Cooley Still PC’s Top Choice: Money No Object?
Friday, March 18, 2011
While PC Friar fans anxiously await the final decision as to who their new head coach will be, more and more coaching vacancies are popping up throughout the country making more coaches available and the competition for a new coach a bit stiffer.
As was reported first here on Sunday, Providence College seems very much focused on Fairfield’s Ed Cooley as their primary target to replace Keno Davis. Cooley makes sense for PC for a number of reasons.
Beyond the fact that he is a Providence native, Cooley has the strong recruiting ties here in the Northeast because of the fact that he has played and coached only in New England. Keno Davis had his roots and recruiting ties in the Midwest which PC AD Bob Driscoll believes was a problem for his program.
Cooley also has the head coaching experience that Driscoll and PC prefer having built a successful program at Fairfield in his five years at the school.
What also may make Cooley the right coach at the right time for Providence is his heritage and his approach to coaching.
Cooley would be PC’s first African-American coach and it couldn’t come at a better time for PC. Given the off the court transgressions of some PC players both under Davis and his predecessor Tim Welsh, questions have been raised about the lack of racial diversity at PC and whether or not the environment is completely suitable for minorities to flourish. Cooley’s presence could possibly help improve that situation and help resolve any objections recruits might have after hearing from other coaches who might try to dissuade players from attending PC.
Cooley is also a tough, but fair coach who is respected by his players. Keno Davis never seemed to have a great connection with his players. That is something Cooley has at Fairfield. And, when he needs to be tough, he can be.
So why, then, hasn’t PC moved more quickly to bring him in? Two reasons. First, they are respecting Fairfield and their participation in the NIT and will wait until the Stags season is over with before making any kind of move. Second, they not only want to appear to be doing their due diligence, they are doing their due diligence in leaving no coaching stone unturned.
Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins name has been linked to the PC coaching search despite the fact that Hopkins has been told that he will succeed Jim Boeheim when he retires. The problem is, Boeheim could coach for another 10 years so Hopkins may not want to sit and wait for that long.
With Hopkins, he lacks the head coaching experience preferred by Driscoll and PC, but he comes from a great system. Ironically, those who know Hopkins say that it is anything but a given that he would run things as a head coach much like his mentor Boeheim. In fact, most believe that he would scrap the 2-3 zone for man-to-man defense.
Quinnipiac’s Tom Moore has been mentioned in conjunction with the PC opening as well and has the head coaching experience desired. The former Jim Calhoun assistant also recruits tough kids and his teams play a tough, hard, physical brand of basketball.
Like Cooley, Moore led the Bobcats to his conference’s (NEC) regular season title last year but failed to win the postseason tournament and had to settle for an NIT bid. This year his team finished (22-10) and (13-5) in the Northeast Conference which was good enough for second place behind LIU.
An interesting development occurred over the past 48 hours where Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton when asked about the future of his head coach Bruce Pearl in a radio interview said, “the jury is still out.”
We told you here last week that Pearl was on thin ice at Tennessee because of NCAA recruiting violations and the fact that Pearl lied about them to investigators. Pearl admitted yesterday that he was surprised by Hamilton’s comments saying that he assumed that he would still be the Volunteers’ coach when he has his hearing in front of the NCAA come June.
Whether or not PC would take a shot on Pearl because of these problems remains to be seen. It is doubtful that they would. However, if the school were to practice what it preaches – forgiveness, then Pearl would be an outstanding choice.
He has led the Vols to the NCAA Tournament in all 6 of his seasons in Knoxville. He is a local guy having been born and raised in Boston where he attended Boston College. He also has tremendous charisma which not only helps him in recruiting, but also in energizing the fans which is something PC basketball is in desperate need of.
Pearl would be that “big name” that Driscoll would love to hire to make a splash and win over the fans. His hiring would most likely help sell season tickets as well. But is he worth the risk? Something tells me that Providence College thinks not.
There’s one other bit of information about the Friars’ coaching job that hasn’t been discussed and that is the money. Word is that PC is prepared to pay up to possibly 1.2 million per year to get the right coach.
Clearly guys like Cooley, Moore and Hopkins would not require that type of investment. In reality, their package would require something along the lines of $750,000 per year.
But, if the school is willing to pay 1.2 million per season to a new head coach, you have to believe that there is a big name or two out there that they might be considering.
Other college basketball notes:
-Colgate Athletic Director Dave Roach fired men’s basketball coach Emmett Davis this week. Speculation immediately focused on UConn Director of Basketball operations and former Penn and Brown coach Glen Miller. Roach hired Miller at Brown in 1999 where Miller turned around a struggling program. Roach will surely consider Miller but will conduct a thorough search with the help of former A-10 Commissioner Linda Bruno before making his decision. RIC’s Bob Walsh could be in the mix for the job as well.
-The rumor mill is hot and heavy with one of the hottest rumors out there claiming that both Texas Tech and Tennessee would love to talk to Kansas coach Bill Self once his season has ended. Self has done an amazing job wherever he has been winning at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas. Rumor has it that Texas Tech could offer as much as 3.5 million to a coach like Self if he were to become available.
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