Louisville basketball was handed a heavy blow yesterday with the news of their involvement in a FBI investigation regarding bribery and corruption in college basketball. And today, we saw the fallout. Athletic Director Tom Jurich and Head Coach Rick Pitino were both “effectively fired” today by the board of regents.
Today, we take a look at the top 5 coaches the Louisville Cardinals should be looking at to replace Rick Pitino.
1. Shaka Smart – Texas Head Coach
If I were Louisville, Smart would be at the top of my list. He hasn’t had the success expected of him during his first two years at Texas, but he’s had top 10 classes each of his first two years of recruiting. Louisville is a much more prestigious job, and they would likely pay him more than the $3M a year he’s set to make at Texas. In return, Louisville would get a class coach that would keep them near the top of the college basketball landscape. I do have to say though after hesitating for so long about leaving VCU, it would be hard to see Smart leave Texas after only two years.
2. Tom Crean – Former Indiana Head Coach
Crean was fired at Indiana after the 2016-17 season after getting bounced in the first round of the NIT. He might have underachieved at Indiana, but he’s still considered a top notch coach around the country. He doesn’t have any instances of recruiting violations or even allegations, and I’m sure that would be held at a premium for Louisville in their coaching search.
3. Greg Marshall – Wichita State Head Coach
Marshall is widely considered the top coach outside the power five conferences and for good reason. Amassing 4 30 win seasons at Wichita State including a Final Four appearance, it’s surprising that he hasn’t taken an elite coaching job yet. He decided against taking the Texas and the Indiana job, but he is on record about keeping his options open. The Louisville job will be very tempting for Marshall no doubt about it.
4. John Thompson III – Former Georgetown Head Coach
John Thompson III, son of legendary coach John Thompson, was let go this past year after 13 seasons as the Georgetown head coach. They underachieved his last few years as coach, but you can also blame the University for falling back on their resources and lack of money into the program. It would be weird seeing a Thompson coach not at Georgetown, but I think he should be in the conversation, and would be a guy that can keep top recruits from leaving the school.
5. Tommy Amaker – Harvard Head Coach
Amaker has sort of lost his buzz as a candidate for a top job lately, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forget about him. In his 10 seasons leading Harvard, they’ve gone 193-103 with 5 NCAA Tournament appearances. He’s also led previous schools out of scandal before, notably when he took over as the head coach of Michigan, who were hit with sanctions for acts done during the “Fab Five” era. Amaker is a top notch coach, that I think would be a wicked smart hire (I’ll see myself out now).
The next five: Ed Cooley (Providence), Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), Chris Mooney (Richmond), Tony Bennett (Virginia), Kermit Davis (Middle Tennessee State)