The abrupt end of the season halted the coaching carousel around college basketball as only a handful of programs made coaching changes. None of those programs were in the Big East, and the league enters next season with the same coaches plus the addition of Dan Hurley and UConn. With only one coaching change (St. John’s) since 2019, the Big East has remained a stable league, but that could change a year from now. Here’s a look at the 11 coaches heading into the 2019-20 season.
Ed Cooley, Providence
Once Cooley reportedly turned down Michigan last year, it became hard to imagine him ever leaving Providence. He was born there and has done nothing but win since he started coaching there. The Friars’ 12 conference wins this season were the most Cooley ever had. He recruits well, and the fans love him. He’ll likely be allowed to stay there as long as he wants.
Most likely scenario to leave: Cooley seems like he will never leave the Northeast, and there aren’t many jobs better than Providence in that region. UConn would have been a good fit, but they chose Hurley over him. He would likely consider Syracuse, Maryland and Villanova if the jobs became available and would be a strong hire at any of those spots.
Jay Wright, Villanova
Wright and the Wildcats won yet another share of the Big East crown in 2020. The successful season has the Villanova coach continuing his march towards the Hall of Fame, and he should receive the call in the next few years, which may be an extra incentive to stay on the Main Line. Wright is in one of the best coaching situations in the country, and he seems to be fully aware of it.
Most likely scenario to leave: The Philadelphia 76ers job seems likely to open within the next 18 months, and when that happens, Wright could have a decision to make. A logical case can be made to stay or to go. Also, in a league of young coaches, Wright is oddly enough probably the closest to retirement.
Mike Anderson, St. John’s
Anderson and St. John’s did not get much positive press when the two joined forces last offseason, but the hiring turned out to be one of the country’s best. Despite having probably the least talent in the conference, Anderson churned out a 17-15 record, including several Top 25 wins. He’s just a professional coach and should flourish with more talent coming in.
Most likely scenario to leave: No one else is hiring him, and his strong start means he probably has a leash of at least four years before St. John’s thinks about firing him. He’s as stable as they come, although the administration is a little unpredictable and could do something like hire Rick Pitino if he succeeds at Iona.
Dan Hurley, UConn
In one decade, Hurley went from N.J. high school basketball coach to Big East coach. Now that the Huskies are in the conference, he’s not going anywhere. The school wants him to rebuild its identity in the league, and he wants the opportunity to coach in the conference he played in while at Seton Hall. He’ll be here for a long time.
Most likely scenario to leave: It’s really hard to see Hurley ever leaving UConn for another college job. If the Huskies can’t compete in the Big East, he could be fired, but he would seem to have a long leash. It’s also possible an NBA job like the New York Knicks could be appealing for him one day.
Some cause for concern
Greg McDermott, Creighton
McDermott arguably just coached his best ever team and would have had a legit chance to make the Final Four this past season. Luckily for him and Creighton, they probably have an ever better chance next year. The looming NCAA response to the FBI investigation is the only thing keeping McDermott from the top category.
Most likely scenario to leave: The NCAA comes down hard on Creighton, and he’s fired. He also would make a lot of sense for Texas if it fires Shaka Smart.
Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
This was supposed to be the special season for Seton Hall, but the cancellation of the NCAA tournament left things incomplete. Willard almost left for Virginia Tech last season, but the pull of a potential Final Four team kept him around. Now that’s gone, and he could be reassessing his future.
Most likely scenario to leave: The jobs that make sense for Williard are places like Louisville and Maryland, but those jobs aren’t opening soon. Still, he reportedly seriously considered Virginia Tech, so if an East Coast throws a lot of money at him, he could leave the Pirates.
Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
This year was quite a mixed bag for Ewing. On the negative side, his team was riddled by scandal, transfers and injuries, forcing him to play shorthanded for most of the season. On the positive side, the Hoyas were surprisingly competitive during most of that time. Ewing seems like a good coach, but he still has to win at some point.
Most likely scenario to leave: He’ll never take another college job, and the NBA has passed over him enough to make that unlikely. So it’s more likely he would be fired after another pair of mediocre seasons, although his ties to the university will probably give him a longer leash than others would get.
LaVall Jordan, Butler
Jordan was trending downward after his first two seasons at Butler, but a strong 2019-20 season has him in a more comfortable spot. Next season may determine his long-term fate, though. The Bulldogs lose Kamar Baldwin and don’t have many key pieces coming in. What Jordan does with that group will say a lot about his coaching ability.
Most likely scenario to leave: Butler slides back into an NIT team or worse over the next two seasons, and the school makes a change.
Travis Steele, Xavier
In Year 2 at Xavier, Steele was likely going to just barely make the NCAA tournament, which would have been a step forward. He’s won 19 games in both seasons and recruited well. Yet, Xavier is a school with a history of making some noise in March. He will be expected to do that soon.
Most likely scenario to leave: Steele is the latest coach to use Xavier as a stepping stone to a bigger job. That job is potentially Indiana, where he was a former assistant.
Not a lock to be here in 2021-22
Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette
It’s been a rough 12 months for Wojciechowski. First, the transfers of the Hauser brothers torpedoed a potential Final Four team. Then, the Golden Eagles lost six of their final seven games this season. And finally, he lost another assistant to a head coaching gig. To say the fanbase is restless is an understatement, as many feel Marquette wasted the college career of Markus Howard.
Most likely scenario to leave: The Golden Eagles miss the 2021 NCAA tournament and the Woj tenure ends.
Dave Leitao, DePaul
In Leitao’s second tenure with DePaul, he has one winning season in five years. Yet not only is he still here, but he now has a three-year extension. It’s clear he has a strong relationship with the athletic director, and maybe that’s all he needs. But one would assume that eventually Leitao will need to win more to keep his job.
Most likely scenario to leave: DePaul takes a step back in 2020-21, and the Leitao era is officially over.