Louisville Will Regret Firing David Padgett is They Can’t Land Chris Mack

David Padgett did not expect to be the head man at the University of Louisville this year. But as the saying goes, “Life comes at you fast.” In what was a whirlwind start to the college basketball season, Padgett found himself one seat further up the bench, as interim head coach for the Cardinals. He led the Cards to a 22-14 record, with a modest 9-9 in ACC play. Louisville missed the NCAA Tournament and lost to Mississippi State in the Quaterfinals of the NIT. One day later, the school parted ways with Padgett.

In the world of coaching rumors, Louisville and Chris Mack has been a steady one all season long. He appeared to be perfect candidate to take over the soon-to-be-vacant position. Mack is already the all-time winningest coach at Xavier, and won the Big East regular season this year. More importantly, with the off-court drama circulating the sport, he’s been thought to run a clean program. To Louisville, that may be the most important piece. Landing Mack isn’t a slam dunk, however. Xavier is his alma mater and pulling away from a program he has brought to the top of the Big East may not be easy, especially with the Cardinals looking at potential NCAA violations.

If Mack falls through, Louisville could find themselves in a bad situation. The coaching situation at Louisville is less than ideal. The Cards are still subject to NCAA penalty and they have the blackest of clouds hanging over their program after this year. That could result in loss of scholarships and possible tournament bans. The looming uncertainty is a tough thing for a coach in a good position, like Mack, to leave for.

Padgett did a great job given his circumstances. He took over a team right before the start of the season, that it’s best recruit right before the start of the season. He dealt with countless off the court issues as the season progressed and almost took Louisville to the NCAA Tournament. Not many first year coaches could have had the season he had given the situation. I get a school like Louisville wants a more established coach, but they may have let a good one slip away. At the very least, Padgett could have stuck around for two years to help guide the program through its NCAA penalties, then be re-evaluated.

I think some school should give Padgett his first real head coaching job. In his one season audition, he achieved more than most people thought. He deserves a chance to lead a team. As for Louisville, they better be very confident that they can land Mack. Dan Hurley could be an outside shot, but will likely stay in the Northeast, Tom Crean was already scooped up, and I can’t see Thad Matta wanting to walk into their situation. It could end up that Louisville just let go their best candidate.

To Leave or Not to Leave: Where Should Dan Hurley Coach Next Season

For all but 16 teams, 34 if you include the NIT, CBI and CIT, it’s the offseason. Time for coaches to turn the page and look forward to next season. They try to envision what their team is going to look like seven months from now. For Dan Hurley, that process could start later than usual. Currently the head coach of Rhode Island, Hurley is maybe the most desired coach in college basketball. He’s on the short list for maybe every high major program with a coaching vacancy. Ever since the firings of Kevin Ollie and Kevin Stallings, Hurley has been rumored to be heavily desired by both UConn and Pittsburgh. As Jon Rothsein reported today, Pitt already offered him a multiyear contract.

For 95% of “mid” or “low major” coaches, the move is a no brainer. If you can get a job at an ACC school, or a school with the prestige of UConn, you take it. But this isn’t any mid major coach. And this isn’t the first “high major” coaching job he’s been offered. Hurley could have taken Rutgers two years ago. A jersey kid returning home to rebuild a tumultuous program. Hurley turned it down. Instead Hurley spent the next two years taking Rhode Island to the NCAA Tournament. He won the A-10 Tournament last season, and was regular season champs this year. Now the offers are coming in again, and the expectation at least is that Hurley is going to make the move. But are his options now better than what he turned down two years ago?

Pitt is a disaster

Rutgers isn’t a dream job. They don’t have the basketball history that Pitt and UConn have, but that’s all those programs have right now. History. Pittsburgh is coming off a season in which they went winless in the ACC conference. They had some embarrassing performances, including a seven point first half against Virginia. After firing Kevin Stallings, they saw eight players request transfer from the program. As if the coaching position could not be any less desirable, the roster is now completely cut up. Competing in a conference as tough as the ACC, this program is maybe in worse shape than Rutgers was two years ago. Pitt doesn’t need a rebuild, they need a miracle.

UConn is better, slightly

Connecticut is a little better of a situation than Pitt, but that’s not saying much. The program has tailed off a little since Shabazz Napier carried the Huskies to a National Championship. Ollie had his struggles retaining players as well. Last year, UConn saw three players transfer, which ultimately hurt them this year when several others went down with injury. With all the talent in the Northeast, you have to be able to recruit that region if you want to put Connecticut back on the map, figuratively. Hurley can certainly recruit; The senior class he is graduating at Rhode Island this year proves it. If UConn can avoid having their whole team transfer like Pitt did, it could be a quicker rebuild in a conference that is much easier to compete in than the ACC.

Or, he can stay

Neither job is as glamorous as it was a few years ago. The prestige has been wiped away from both programs after a couple of strung together sub par seasons. Hurley graduates a heck of a senior class this year, but he does have enough players coming back and coming in, that will have Rhode Island contending at the top of the A-10 again next year. Another trip to the NCAA Tournament will put Hurley in contention for the next group of jobs that open up. He turned down Rutgers, he could do it again.

Stay or go, Danny Hurley will be a wanted man. He and his players completely turned around a Rhode Island program in his time there. It is that turnaround that makes him such a heavily desired target by both Pitt and UConn. I think if Hurley were to make the move, UConn makes the most sense. It’s not a total rebuild, and it’s an easier program to sell to recruits initially. The rise to the top of the AAC is much easier than the ACC. And it’s easier when you have a player or two to start with. As the coaching carousel goes round and round, we may not see any schools make a move until Hurley makes his decision.

UConn Fires Kevin Ollie

The Kevin Ollie era is over at UConn. University department of athletics made a statement early this morning. In the statement, the department said “The University of Connecticut has initiated disciplinary procedures to terminate the employment of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Ollie for just cause.” 

Ollie was one of the hottest coaches in basketball just four years ago. After winning the National Championship, every level of coaching was an option for Ollie. He was heavily rumored around the Oklahoma City vacancy, but stayed at UConn. It has been downhill ever since for Ollie and the Huskies.

Ollie had a career record of 127-79 as the head coach at Connecticut, but UConn’s best finish in the AAC was third. The past two seasons Connecticut has gone 16-17 and 14-18. Ollie has seen players transfer from the program recently, and has not been effective in the recruiting landscape. It was beginning to feel more and more like change was needed.

One of the biggest issues for Connecticut is where do they go next? Ollie will surely be fine; With his NBA background he could serve as an assistant to a team next year. One name that will certainly be thrown around is Dan Hurley. Hurley had been nothing short of magnificent at Rhode Island and will surely be at the top of every team’s list. It will be interesting to see if UConn could sway him over URI, and the countless other schools that will come calling.

Time will tell how this works out for both sides. For now, UConn has been embarrassing for the better part of two seasons, new blood and a shake up was needed. This is March, right?