Every offseason, the coaching carousel takes hold of the College Basketball news cycle. Young assistant coaches make the leap to head man, while head coaches at smaller schools advance to a higher level program. In the case of Xavier’s Chris Mack, these opportunities have been plentiful. Mack has been rumored and linked to many programs in his tenure at Xavier, but he has always shown loyalty to his alma mater. This year, Mack is being linked to Louisville, seemingly to give the program some sort of continuity in the wake of Rick Pitino leaving and the sanctions being handed down by the NCAA. During his time at Xavier, Mack has led the Musketeers from the lesser Atlantic 10 conference, reaching a pair of Sweet 16s in the conference.
Xavier then joined the much superior Big East conference, where he has reached two more Sweet 16s and an Elite 8. As of January 2018, Mack is also the all time leader in wins at Xavier. Louisville may be the most logical move for him to make; it would certainly be a step up in terms of competition, jumping to the ACC, arguably the best conference in college hoops. Mack is from Cincinnati, however the move to Louisville is just a 100 mile drive, something that could be a selling point. Louisville needs strong leadership through this turbulent time to restore pride to this once proud program. Current Cardinal’s coach David Padgett is in an interim role, understanding that once the university is able to conduct a full coaching search that he will likely return to his role as assistant.
Chris Mack is a very good recruiter, and with part of the Louisville sanctions coming in the form of loss of scholarships, Mack will have to use recruiting savvy to lure recruits to join him. Louisville sits at 18-9 on the season, not a bad mark considering all of the turmoil and coaching uncertainty that has gone on in the preseason and during the regular season, so Mack would not be starting from scratch. He knows the area well, scouting similar high schools, AAU teams, and camps as Louisville.
The Cardinals will be losing their leader, senior guard Quentin Snyder but will likely get their other two best players, forwards Deng Adel and Ray Spalding, back for their senior seasons. Four of the Cardinal’s top five scorers play forward, with the exception being Snyder, and whoever comes in to be the permanent head coach will have to find depth at the guard position and a new alpha male at PG.
With Mack’s ability to develop guards, most recently J.P. Macura and Trevon Bluiett, he may be able to attract a blue chip recruit and transform him into something that other college coaches can’t see. Whoever takes over at Louisville has a big task with unique challenges in from of them, and Chris Mack may just be the man for the task.