For the second offseason in a row, the Big East was lightly affected by the coaching carousel. The only departure from the league was Chris Mullin, who stepped down after leading St. John’s to an NCAA tournament berth this past season. That means the only new addition to the league’s coaches is the Red Storm’s Mike Anderson. Will the coaching stability remain for the future? Here’s a look at the 10 coaches heading into the 2019-20 season.
Jay Wright, Villanova
As a future Hall of Famer and two-time national champion, Wright has earned the ability to end his Villanova tenure on his own terms and will likely do so. He’s rebuffed enough offers from other schools to feel confident he’ll remain on the Main Line, and at 57 years old, he likely still has at least a decade of coaching in front of him. He’s the face of the Big East conference and will remain so for years to come.
Most likely scenario to leave: It’s the same old story here — the only other job that seems even like a remote possibility for Wright is the 76ers gig. It’s his local team and a legit chance to compete for an NBA title. If the Sixers fail to make a conference final this year or next, expect the speculation to grow of such a marriage.
Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
In Ewing’s second season as head coach, the Hoyas showed significant improvement. They entered March with a chance to make the Big Dance — an unthinkable accomplishment given the roster when he took over. He’s recruiting well and getting the most out of his players. If he can start making the NCAA tournament, he should be there for a long time.
Most likely scenario to leave: The team takes a step back the next two seasons and still can’t find a way into the NCAA tournament. With the lack of success, Ewing steps down after facing pressure from the administration.
Ed Cooley, Providence
While it was a down year for the Friars, Cooley maintained his reputation as one of the league’s best coaches and recruiters. For a coach that has done such a good job at such a tough place to win, it’s somewhat surprising his name doesn’t pop up more in coaching searches. He’s becoming part of Providence’s identity and seems more locked into that program by the day, but never say never.
Most likely scenario to leave: A top-tier program in the Northeast gives him an offer he can’t refuse. He would make sense as successor at Syracuse and would also be a good fit at Maryland one day.
Mike Anderson, St. John’s
The lack of local ties makes it a strange hire for St. John’s, but not necessarily a bad one. Anderson has won everywhere and plays a style of basketball that will be appealing to the New York City market. If he can make three NCAA tournaments in eight years like he did at Arkansas, he’d be the most successful Red Storm coach since Mike Jarvis, so the bar is low. And as an older coach who already has had his dream job, Anderson does not seem like some one who would leave town for another job.
Most likely scenario to leave: The lack of recruiting ties to the area makes it a disaster and Anderson is out after two years.
Probably not going anywhere
Greg McDermott, Creighton
Outside of a brief flirtation with Ohio State two seasons ago, there hasn’t been much chatter in terms of McDermott bolting Creighton for another job. He’s reached five NCAA tournaments in nine seasons at Creighton and seems poised to add his sixth in the upcoming season. The one negative of his Creighton tenure is a possible recruiting violation as a Jays assistant was accused of offering money to a recruit.
Most likely scenario to leave: If he’s leaving for another job, it will be a big one. Think Texas or Oklahoma. He may be interested in a move if the FBI concerns grow louder.
Travis Steele, Xavier
While the Musketeers didn’t make the NCAA tournament last year, Steele can be praised for the job he did. Xavier transformed from conference bottom dweller to fringe NCAA tournament team during the Big East season. By March, the Musketeers were as good as any team in the league. He’s young (37 years old) and is recruiting well. A few postseason berths, and he’ll be a hot name for other jobs.
Most likely scenario to leave: Xavier is back to being a perennial NCAA tournament team and a storied Big Ten program with an opening scoops up Steele by giving him a massive raise. As a former Indiana assistant, he would likely be in the mix if the Hoosiers fire Archie Miller.
Might be here for awhile, but could be gone tomorrow
Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
The Big East almost lost Willard this month, as he was a serious candidate to take the Virginia Tech job before deciding to return. One wonders if the Pirates didn’t have such a strong group returning if he would have made a different decision. Even with him turning down the Hokies, the interest shows his reputation outside the league. He may be gone soon.
Most likely scenario to leave: If Seton Hall can make a deep tournament run, other programs will continue to express interest. East Coast ties and a strong history could be appealing. A school like Maryland may make sense.
LaVall Jordan, Butler
When he came to Butler, Jordan had a strong reputation as a coach and a recruiter, but at some point the results are what they are. In three seasons as a head coach, Jordan has compiled a 48-55 record. Butler will likely give him at least two more seasons, but the school’s identity is tied to its basketball program. They will be expecting results soon.
Most likely scenario to leave: Butler misses the NCAA tournament the next two seasons and Jordan is handed his walking papers.
Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette
It was just two months ago that Marquette appeared poised for a Big East regular season title. Instead, they collapsed down the stretch and got blown out in the NCAA tournament by a 12-seed. Then, a consensus top-10 team for 2019-20 lost Sam and Joey Hauser to the transfer market. It’s all not a great look for Woj, who also has struggled recently in recruiting. Now next season may be a make or break year for Woj’s future at Marquette.
Most likely scenario to leave: The Golden Eagles can’t compete without the Hausers, the recruiting woes continue, and Woj is relieved of his duties.
Not a lock to be here in 2020-21
Dave Leitao, DePaul
There were finally some signs of progress in Chicago this season, as DePaul finished with a winning record and did a nice job in recruiting. Still, Leitao remains firmly on the hot seat as the returning talent isn’t that great and the Blue Demons haven’t even made the NIT in his second stint with the university. However, the administration seems to like Leitao, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Most likely scenario to leave: The Blue Demons return to their non-competitive ways, the strong recruiting class begins to transfer, and DePaul axes its coach.