By Dalton Ray–
Sixteen years after being hired as U of L’s men’s basketball coach, Rick Pitino exits in a disgraceful fashion. His final seven years roaming the Cardinal sideline have been filled with highest of the highs on the court and lowest of the low off.
All signs point to Pitino being removed, including reports saying he will fight the university to get his money owed due to breach of contract.
The question now is who replaces Pitino?
Louisville is one of the nation’s most prestigious programs. Any other time it would have no trouble pulling nearly any coach of their choice, but this is a toxic situation.
Here are potential candidates:
David Padgett, current U of L assistant coach
Let’s start in-house. If the interim athletic director chooses the former Cardinal to coach this season, it’s an obvious interim decision.
Padgett has no head coaching experience, but is reportedly the players’ choice. Padgett is currently running day-to-day operations.
The biggest knock against Padgett is he is on former coach Rick Pitino’s staff.
Scott Davenport, current Bellarmaine head coach
Davenport is a former U of L assistant, both under Denny Crum and Pitino. He led the Knights to a D II national title in 2011 and has nearly 300 career wins since taking over in 2005.
Davenport, a Louisville native, is a well-known and beloved member of the community. Before his time at the collegiate level, Davenport coached at Ballard High School.
Tom Crean, former Indiana head coach
This is the name that keeps coming up. Six months after his firing from IU, Crean has been rumored as one of the lead candidates.
Crean has a career record of 356–231 between Indiana and Marquette.
Seth Greenberg, current ESPN analyst and former Virginia Tech head coach
ESPN Louisville radio host Bob Valvano mentioned this choice and it has picked up steam by the fan base.
Greenberg last coached for Virginia Tech in 2011-12. With 22 years of head coaching experience, Greenberg could potentially go from the studio back to the court.
Chris Mack, current Xavier head coach
Here is the home-run hire.
Mack has been on the shortlist for U of L fans for years — they just didn’t expect to go after him now. Mack is a hard-nosed, clean coach that has over-achieved at Xavier.
Head coach since 2009, Mack has led the Musketeers in the NCAA tournament in every season but one. Xavier has also reached the Sweet 16 five times under Mack.
Greg Marshall, current Wichita State head coach
Marshall has been mentioned for multiple jobs over the past years, including Indiana’s job search earlier this year.
Like Mack, Marshall has had success winning with less talent.
Shaka Smart, current Texas head coach
Three years ago, Smart was the hottest name in the country. A young coach, Smart brought mid-major VCU to the national scene like both Mack and Marshall did with their programs.
Smart is entering his third year with the Longhorns. Despite having mixed results in the first two years, it’s tough to imagine he would jump ship to U of L at a time like this.
You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477.
File photo / The Louisville Cardinal