The Georgetown coaching job is once again open, as, after six years with Patrick Ewing as head coach, the school has decided to move on.
A hire with so much hype - Ewing was not only a program icon, but a respected NBA assistant - quickly fizzled, as Ewing finished his time at Georgetown with a winning record just once in six seasons, and one NCAA Tournament run. The came in a season where Georgetown finished 13-13 and won the Big East's automatic bid at a league tournament with no fans in it.
So now, the Hoyas move on, looking for a new coach to get them back to respectability, and they do so with a twist: For the first time in the modern era, they'll be making a hire without program icon John Thompson hovering over it. Thompson of course led the school to great heights (including a championship in the mid-1980's) but then also basically handpicked each of his last three successors. Long-time assistant Craig Escherick replaced Thompson in 1999, and then was followed by John Thompson III. When Thompson III was let go, it paved the way for Ewing.
With the elder Thompson no longer around, it appears as though the school will make a clean break in its next hire.
Here are some names to watch:
Mike Brey, head coach, Notre Dame: In one of the weirdest twists we've seen in coaching of late, Brey announced his retirement back in mid-January, only to then un-announce his retirement a few weeks later. Brey confirmed to Stadium's Jeff Goodman that he planned to continue to coach - just not at Notre Dame.
Yes, it appears as though Brey just pulled the ultimate "You can't fire me... I quit!" only on a national stage, at an internationally renowned university.
Regardless of how Brey's departure at Notre Dame went however, the important part is that he wants to keep coaching, and to be blunt, he makes a lot of sense for Georgetown.
Brey is from the Washington D.C area, playing and serving as an assistant coach at famed DeMatha Catholic in Maryland, before getting into the coaching ranks. He knows the area well and has the recruiting chops and ties to keep some of the best local players local.
The one issue of course is Brey's age. He'll be 64 in March, and if you're getting him, it's probably for a short window. Is it worth hiring a guy - even if you truly believe he's the right fit - if the ceiling to keep him is probably only six to seven years? That's the No. 1 question at Georgetown right now.
Ed Cooley, head coach, Providence: So, there's a lot going on here, so let's dive into this.
On the one hand, it seems crazy to think that Cooley will leave one Big East school for another. Especially one in the state he grew up in (Rhode Island), especially as he has the program rolling at levels we haven't seen in decades. Providence won the Big East title just a season ago, and is set to make its seventh NCAA Tournament in the last nine years where the tournament has been played.
So, from that perspective, it's hard to see him leaving.
On the other hand, Georgetown is, to be blunt, a better job, with a better recruiting base and a higher ceiling. And maybe Cooley just feels like its time to try something different after 12 years in Providence. It probably doesn't help that fans, for whatever reason, were booing the team on Senior Day the other day - if anything, just a sign of how high the bar has been raised in another year that will almost certainly end in the NCAA Tournament.
Still, there is plenty of internet chatter about Cooley to Providence, and ultimately it could come down to this: What is Cooley's buyout at Providence? He just signed an extension at the school last year, but because it's a private school, details of that contract are not public.
If it isn't too cost prohibitive for the Hoyas, it's worth a phone call.
Whether Cooley will seriously consider it - again, assuming it isn't too expensive to buy him out of his deal - is another question altogether.
Micah Shrewsberry, head coach, Penn State: Shrewsberry is the opposite of Brey - a 46-year-old without the resume of Brey, but with youth on his side, a deep basketball resume and already one impressive rebuilding project under his belt.
In just Year 2 at Penn State Shrewsberry has already done incredible work, using the transfer portal to revamp this roster and put the Nittany Lions in contention to compete for a tournament berth. He did this after waiting patiently for a head coaching job and working behind some of the biggest names in the business, including Brad Stevens (with the Celtics), Purdue's Matt Painter and others.
Assuming Georgetown wants him, the big question is this: Is he willing to leave Penn State after just two years? More importantly, is Penn State - in the cash-rich Big Ten - willing to pony up to keep him?
You'd have to imagine that in the new era of college sports, there's no number that Georgetown can offer that Penn State isn't capable of matching.
Rick Pitino, head coach, Iona: Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the biggest name on any coaching candidate list this season: One, Rick Pitino.
At this point, everyone knows the good and bad with Pitino: He is a guy who wins everywhere he goes, the ultimate program builder and put simply, one of the greatest coaches the sport of college basketball has ever seen. He also brings controversy as well, as he brought multiple NCAA scandals to Louisville.
Six years, and three coaches after his departure, Louisville still hasn't recovered.
Meanwhile, Pitino just won his second straight MAAC regular season title at Iona. And is looking for his second tournament bid in three seasons.
The question: Does Georgetown want to deal with all the, umm, extra stuff, that comes with Pitino?
At some point, someone is going to hire the guy, and if Georgetown doesn't do it, someone else will. Potentially, Big East rival St. John's.
Like Cooley, there's a lot of internet buzz with Pitino to Georgetown.
We'll see if it comes to fruition.
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