Chris Mack and Louisville have finalized a separation agreement. The Cardinals are now in the market for a new head coach. Here are five potential head coach candidates for the Louisville Cardinals.
1. Kenny Payne
Kenny Payne is currently an assistant coach for the New York Knicks. Before that, he was a longtime assistant at Kentucky under John Calipari from 2010-2020. He is largely credited with the development of the big men that the Wildcats produced under Calipari. Before Kentucky, he was an assistant at Oregon and played in the pros.
The thing that might draw Payne to Louisville is that he played for the Cardinals. Payne has reported interest in the job. With his ability to develop big men and recruit, Louisville could build their program back up in a matter of years. While plenty of coaches will be in the search, Payne may be the most likely to take the job.
2. Bruce Pearl
Pearl has had plenty of success as a head coach at the collegiate level. He has a 387-192 record in his career in time at Milwaukee, Tennessee and Auburn. In his time as a head coach, he has made 11 NCAA Tournaments. He made the Final Four at Auburn in 2019. Currently, Pearl has led Auburn to the number one ranking in the country.
It might seem unlikely that Pearl would leave such a good situation for Louisville, but he is reportedly interested in the job. Pearl has shown the ability to build programs well, as he helped take both Tennessee and Auburn to new heights, although he has had some run-ins with the NCAA. He would have some rebuilding to do, as Louisville is just 11-9 on the year. If Louisville had their pick of anyone, Pearl may be it.
3. Nate Oats
Oats has proven to be a good coach at two different schools already. At Buffalo, he posted a 96-43 record and made three NCAA Tournaments. He then received the Alabama job. In two and a half years in Tuscaloosa, Oats has a 55-28 record and has led the team to one NCAA Tournament. He looks like he’ll be well on his way to another NCAA Tournament appearance this season.
While Oats did just get to Alabama, he is a proven coach. He probably should be a top 25-paid coach, but currently, he isn’t. Oats may want to leave for a school offering more money. It would help that Louisville has a great arena and solid facilities. If Louisville is looking to pry Oats away from Alabama, they may be able to do so.
4. Will Wade
Wade took over a 10-win LSU team before he got there and has found some success. He has made two NCAA Tournaments and has a 101-46 record. Wade likely would have made a third tournament, but the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled. He has done a great job of recruiting, albeit with some FBI and NCAA trouble. Wade has also had success at Charleston Southern and VCU before coaching at LSU.
Louisville has had its fair share of issues with the NCAA, so hiring Wade would be a risk. If they think he can play by the rules, which may be helped by NIL deals, Wade could be hired because of his recruiting and decent job improving the program.
5. Chris Holtmann
Holtmann has coached in the area at both Butler and Ohio State. At Butler, he had a 70-31 record and made three NCAA Tournaments in three seasons at the school. He then left for the Ohio State job. With the Buckeyes, he has made the NCAA Tournament every season it’s been held and has posted a 99-48 record. Holtmann also coached at Gardner-Webb before taking the Butler job.
Because he is from the state, Holtmann could be drawn to the Louisville job. He is the 24th highest-paid coach in college basketball and could make more if he made the jump to the Cardinals. Holtman has a solid thing going at Ohio State, but if Louisville makes it worth his while he could be convinced to coach in his home state.
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