[Part 1 of a 3-part series]
We’ve said before on this site that we hate the characterization of Friar fans as starry-eyed dreamers who expect the program to regularly compete with the UConns and Louisvilles of the world. The vast majority of Friar fans have a firm grip on reality, and we like to think that we’re a part of that group.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to get a reality check every once in a while. So as we begin our examination of coaching candidates for PC, we’ll start with “The Untouchables,” those whose arrival as Providence coach can be filed under “P” for “pipe dream.” Without further ado, here’s a list of men who aren’t walking through that door…
Head Coach, Florida
PC’s favorite son, the sharpshooting guard on the 1987 Final Four team. He’d certainly be the perfect coach for Providence: he’s young, a great recruiter, and — oh yeah — he’s won two National Titles. But he turned down the Orlando Magic last summer to re-up at Florida for something like 148 years at $37 million per. And did we mention that Florida is about a million times better of a job than PC? PC’s best hope of hiring Billy the Kid is to wait 20 years and then hope he’d fancy a swan song at his alma mater — you know, out of nostalgia’s sake. Good things come to those that wait, right? Right? [I begin to twitch nervously].
Jeff van Gundy
Lead NBA Analyst, ESPN
Assistant coach to Pitino at PC for the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons before moving on to bigger and better things (i.e. wrapping himself around Alonzo Mourning’s leg). A very good NBA coach and a defensive whiz, van Gundy has absolutely no incentive to leave his cushy job as ESPN analyst for the rough-and-tumble life of Big East basketball. And anyway, he’s on top of his profession right now — Bill Simmons recently dubbed him “the single best (analyst) for any sport, college or pro” — so it stands to reason that he’d have absolutely nothing to gain by wading into college hoops. Driscoll could always place a call (it doesn’t hurt, obviously) but he’d be wise not to hold his breath.
Head Coach, Xavier
Yes, Xavier is an A-10 team, and yes, the Big East is better than the A-10. But Xavier has become the Gonzaga of the A-10 in recent years; the Musketeers are a fixture in March at this point (having made it 7 out of the last 8 years), and the team was recently ranked No. 20 by Forbes on the list of most valuable college basketball programs. In other words… it’s a better job than PC. Let that sink in for a second, and then consider this: Sean Miller is in line for a much better job than Providence (like, say, Indiana). So forget about him.
Assistant to the Athletic Director, Stanford
Montgomery’s mediocre turn as Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors certainly shouldn’t overshadow the tremendous success he had while at the helm of the Stanford program. In 18 years, Montgomery compiled a 393-167 record (a stellar .702 winning percentage), made 10 straight NCAA Tournaments from 1995-2004, and recruited seven future first round picks. He only works part-time for Stanford now in a role that amounts to advisor, but facts are facts: he’s 61 years old, he’s done everything at the NCAA level except win a title, and he’s a West Coast guy. Even if he had a hankering to get back into coaching, Providence would hold absolutely no appeal for him.
Head Coach, St. Joe’s
We don’t mean to cause an A-10 inferiority complex here, but Martelli is a special case. He was born in Philly, played college basketball in Philly (at Widener), and has coached in Philly his entire adult life. He’s had chances to leave before, most notably in 2003 when he was courted by Penn State amongst other schools; instead, he signed a lengthy extension (he’s currently inked through the 2011-12 season). In other words, we don’t ever see him leaving. He’s the John Chaney of St. Joe’s, except instead of being black and angry, he’s Italian and goofy. He’s shown that he’s a great recruiter — Jameer Nelson and Delonte West spring to mind — and would certainly be a fantastic hire for PC, but it’ll never happen.
We’ll be back tomorrow with “The Odd Men Out”: a list of candidates that Bob Driscoll should avoid in his search. In the meantime, your thoughts on any of these names?