[Part 2 of a 3-part series]
Over the last decade, Providence has made a concerted effort to invest in athletics to compete in the Big East. With the increase in coaches’ salaries, upgrades in on-campus facilities and renovations to the Dunk, PC is as enticing a job as it has ever been in our lifetimes.
That said, after three years of irrelevancy, and with a senior-laden roster returning next season, an imprudent hire could set PC back years, and relegate the Friars to perennial cellar-dwellers in the Big East (or worse, as the fellow in the picture could attest to). The following candidates will be bandied about amongst fans, and may even interview to fill the vacancy. But, in his role as judge, Bob Driscoll should drop his gavel and dismiss them from consideration.
Former Head Coach, Ohio State
A very popular candidate among fans for his success at Boston College (NCAA tournament teams three of his last four years) and The Ohio State (four consecutive trips to the Dance, and a Final Four appearance in ’99). He’s a regional guy — grew up in Brooklyn — who has proven he can recruit at the high-major level and win in New England.
He’s also left a black stain on every program he touches. Boston College? Lawsuit. Ohio State? Sanctions, scandal (academic fraud and paying recruits) and a lawsuit. (It should be noted that his lawsuit against BC was resolved out of court.) While we understand that college athletics at this level are never pristine, and cheating does occur, O’Brien is right up there with Kelvin Sampson in terms of tactics. At Ohio State, violations like these can be overcome. At PC, actions like O’Brien’s threaten to send us to the A-10. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. We have no problem with the idea of playing with some fire in hiring a coach, but handing the keys to O’Brien is like throwing ourselves directly into the incinerator.
Head Coach, Loyola (Md.)
The coach of “Providence College at Baltimore.” Lord knows he’s coached enough former Friars in his time at Loyola (Md.) so he should have a realistic handle on the intricacies of the job in Little Rhodie’s capitol. But can he build a program? We say no.
His stint at Loyola has been fueled by accepting transfers from high-majors (i.e. Providence and Maryland) and troubled recruits that scared off other suitors because of off-the-court concerns (Brian Rudolph, anyone?) or academic shortcomings. You can’t build a Big East program on transfers. You can’t slide those kind of recruits in at PC. Patsos has never proven he can build a program the way he would have to at Providence. Thumbs down.
Head Coach, George Washington
No way. This guy’s antics on the sideline are only topped by Bobby Gonzalez’s, which turns us off from the start. Supporters of Hobbs cite his success in guiding George Washington to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a 27-3 record in 2005-’06. But, like Patsos, an examination of how he built the program yields some alarming results.
Under Hobbs’ watch, GW recruited key players from “diploma mills,” or schools that were shams academically and little-more than half-way houses to qualify athletes for college. Just like Patsos’ techniques, that won’t fly at PC. Can Hobbs win when he has to worry about recruiting potential academic casualties? We don’t know yet, and we’d rather not see Providence serve as his guinea pig.
Head Coach, UMass
Not only does Ford have Northeast ties (he’s in his second year as head coach at UMass) to go along with a former career at Kentucky under Rick Pitino, he would give PC a coach that starred in the Academy Award winning picture “The Sixth Man,” with the Wayans brothers. I’m not kidding (except for the Academy Award part).
On the surface, Ford is a terrific candidate. But, digging deeper than his budding thespian career and time in Amherst, we don’t see Ford as a viable option, largely because he’ll always be one good season away from leaving Smith Hill.
You see, Ford is from Kentucky. His entire coaching career prior to landing at UMass was in Kentucky. He’s a southern boy, and he’s looking for his shot to land a plum SEC job. Should he not land one of several SEC gigs likely to open this offseason, the only reason he would take over the Friars would be to improve his resume in hopes of better positioning himself for the next wave of openings in the South. PC’s veteran squad would appeal to him as a one-and-done layover on his way back to Dixie.
Head Coach, Iona
PC hiring a young, up-and-coming coach from Iona, who’s father was a coach, and who previously served as an assistant to a Hall of Fame Big East coach. Sound familiar? Actually, our case against Willard has nothing to do with his similar career path to Tim Welsh. If we are comparing Willard’s resume with Welsh’s from a decade ago, there’s really no contest — Welsh had accomplished far more. And that’s our biggest beef with Willard. What has he ever done to warrant the head coach’s seat at the Dunk? Answer: nothing.
Head Coach, Brown
Robinson has impressed us in his short time at Brown — last year’s victory over PC still makes us shudder — so let’s be clear, his appearance on this list is not meant to be an indictment. He is an intelligent, well-spoken man who has impressed us in our few personal dealings with him. Plus, his brother-in-law may well be our next President. How’s that for a recruiting pitch? However, he just doesn’t have enough of a background to warrant the position. His coaching experience consists of six years as an assistant at Northwestern, and two years as the head man at Brown. That’s too big a jump for our liking.
Head Coach, Quinnipiac
See Robinson, Craig. Except for the brother-in-law thing. We like Moore ahead of Robinson because he cut his teeth in the Big East as an assistant to Jim Calhoun at UConn. He became an ace recruiter in his last few years in Storrs, and fits the mold of what we want in PC’s next coach. But, he’s only been at the helm of his own program for one year, and that was at Quinnipiac. Like Robinson, we’d like someone with more time running a program. Also rumored to be Calhoun’s eventual successor.
Head Coach, Hofstra
In the spirit of Survivor, Pecora has spent his entire career on the Island. Long Island. And we’d rather not vote him off, at least not to ship him to Providence. He was one of the hot names swirling around as a replacement had Welsh been dismissed after last season, but the bloom has fallen off Pecora’s rose a bit. To us, Pecora has reached his ceiling — a very good coach in a smaller conference. He wouldn’t cut it at PC though.
Head Coach, Marist
It’s not that Brady would be a terrible hire. It’s that there are too many more appealing options. Throw in that Brady is more of an offensive coach, and that PC desperately needs a coach that will preach and teach defense first, and this isn’t a good match.
The coaching posts are on hiatus through the weekend as the games take center stage. Sign up for our contests, enjoy the action, and check back on Monday as we roll out the “Goodfellas” — our list of acceptable candidates.