Rick Pitino is now on administrative leave, which leaves the University of Louisville in a bind. Practices start soon, so the Cardinals need to find someone to take over as the head man. Here are five options Louisville should explore for their head coaching vacancy, whether they take the job is another issue.
1. Tom Crean
Crean may be one of the most likely big time coaches to consider the Louisville job. He is unemployed after being fired by Indiana. With Louisville still being a big time job and having a lot of money, Crean could be enticed to take the job.
With his two stops at Marquette and Indiana, Crean has posted a 356-231 record. He also has made a Final Four and has some tournament success, despite falling off at Indiana. At Indiana, Crean had to come in after Kelvin Sampson was let go for recruiting violations. This will be the same type of thing he has to deal with at Louisville. He fits the mold of what Louisville wants in a coach.
Crean’s options to coach for the coming years will likely be at lower level programs than this. He may see Louisville being down as a great opportunity to get back in the game at a big conference school.
2. Mick Cronin
It is a bit interesting, but according to Vegas, Cronin is the odds on favorite to take the job. Cronin has ties to Pitino, but wasn’t involved with the Louisville program when any of NCAA violations or FBI investigations happened. Would he take the job after they got rid of one of his mentors? That is the big question.
Cronin is another coach that fits the mold of what Louisville wants. He’s never had any major NCAA violations, which has to be the biggest thing that the Cardinals are looking at right now. When Cronin started at Cincinnati he had to reboot the program. Bob Huggins was fired, Andy Kennedy was interim coach for a year, but Cincinnati decided to hire Cronin. The program was depleted of talent and Cronin has led them back to being a solid program.
With experience working with a program that is at its lows, Cronin would be a good hire. Unfortunately, Louisville would have to try and pry him from his hometown city and his alma mater.
3. Chris Mack
Chris Mack is at a perennial Big East power in Xavier, that has been getting to the NCAA Tournament and winning in it for years. Louisville will have to prove they still have what it takes to compete in the years to come if they want to land Mack.
Mack has turned down a lot of big time jobs at power conferences to stay at Xavier. The Louisville job might be a little different for him. His wife is from Louisville. Louisville can likely pay him more than Xavier. He also knows the recruiting landscape of the Midwest, something that is needed to thrive at Louisville. Getting Mack would be a best case scenario for Louisville.
The problem with Mack as a candidate is that he too, is going to need to be pried from his hometown and alma mater that he has had success at.
4. Buzz Williams
Buzz Williams is a rather unique name that has shown up in the coaching rumors. The question has to be: Why would Williams leave one ACC school for another? It has to be the money that Louisville will be willing to pay him, because he certainly has a better chance at postseason play at Virginia Tech.
He did a good job at Marquette before jumping ship to Virginia Tech. He has helped build a solid program at Virginia Tech, which isn’t easy to do. With his no non-sense attitude it could be a good fit. He also doesn’t have any ties to Pitino which will be seen as a plus.
In the end it will be really hard to convince Williams to leave Virginia Tech, but that’s what people said when he was the head coach at Marquette.
5. Scott Davenport
Davenport is the least known person on this list, but might be the most likely to take the job. He is currently the head coach at Bellarmine University in Louisville and has had a lot of success at the NCAA Division II level.
With only a short time until the season starts, Louisville needs to act fast. Hiring someone already in the city would take away a lot of the logistics of hiring a new coach. Davenport has proven he can win at a lower level, but may want to scratch that itch to prove he can win at the highest level. It makes it even nicer that he wouldn’t have to uproot his life to move to another city.
This may be the best opportunity Davenport gets to get to the next level. Will he take it or stay at Bellarmine?
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