With the search for Jamie Dixon’s replacement already on, here’s a look at 10 potential candidates who may be on athletic director Scott Barnes’ radar.
With Sean Miler already off the list and brother Archie also an extreme long shot, neither are included.
The good news for Pitt fans is that Barnes is not just going to settle for anyone.
“This is a national job,” Barnes said Monday. “The ACC has six teams going to the Sweet 16, most in the history of the NCAA tournament. The platform that is the ACC and the job that this is makes it a national job. So we won’t limit ourselves to any specific area as it relates to hiring the right person.”
“We’re looking for a lot of qualities. We’re looking for a successful, sitting Division I head coach. We’re looking for the same things we look for in all of our head coaches – impeccable character, a high motor, a guy that can absolutely recruit his tail off.”
With that being said, here are a handful of likely options.
Chris Mack, Xavier- Mack would be a tough guy to get to leave his current gig, but he has had a ton of success and likely is ready for the challenge of ACC basketball. He has won 162 games in seven years at Xavier, including six 20-plus win seasons. If Mack can be approached about leaving, he should be near the top of the list.
Mick Cronin, Cincinnati- Cronin has made it clear he is looking to leave his alma mater by flirting with the open UNLV job. The reason he makes the list is he is a proven head coach who has taken the Bearcats to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past six seasons. But like Dixon, Cronin hasn’t had success in March. He also coaches a rugged defensive style of basketball and Barnes is looking for an up-tempo style of play. Regardless, Cronin could be worth a look.
Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa- Jacobson can flat out coach. He has never had a losing season at UNI and could be ready for a bigger challenge. He should definitely be on the radar.
Andy Enfield, USC- As mentioned before, Barnes wants a more exciting brand of basketball. That is right up Enfield’s alley. Enfield has had success at Florida Gulf Coast with is “Dunk City” team and most recently got USC to the NCAA Tournament. Add to that he is from Shippensburg and the Pitt job could peak his interest.
Kevin Keats, UNC-Wilmington- Keats has won 43 games his first two seasons, but most importantly the former Louisville assistant is known as a tremendous recruiter. That is something this Pitt program desperately needs.
Kevin Willard, Seton Hall– If the name sounds familiar it should. Willard is a former Pitt point guard who just led Seton Hall to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006. His father Ralph was also a former Pitt head coach in the 90’s.
Dan Hurley, Rhode Island- Hurley just turned down the Rutgers job and is rumored to be someone Pitt is interested in. Hurley has potential as a head coach and while he has a decent team returning at Rhode Island, getting a call from Pitt is much better than getting a call from Rutgers, so there could be some interest.
Will Wade, VCU – Wade is only 33 years old, and has only held the VCU job for a year, but took the Rams to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He is a Clemson graduate, so is familiar with the ACC. But if Barnes wants up tempo and exciting basketball, Wade is certainly worth a look.
Bryce Drew, Valparaiso- Drew has won at least 26 games in four of the past five seasons and while he has turned down plenty of offers to leave his alma mater before, a chance to jump into the ACC may be tough to pass on. Jumping from the Horizon League to the ACC could be a stretch, but Drew should still be worth a look.
Lorenzo Romar, Washington– Romar isn’t an exciting candidate, but he does have a history with Barnes. Barnes knows the veteran coach well from the four years he spent as senior associate athletic director at Washington (2005-08). Romar has won Pac-12 twice, he is a three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year and he has reached the NCAA Tournament six times, with three Sweet 16 appearances.
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