By WC Peters
There was movement in the college basketball coaching ranks today as Chris Mack left Xavier for Louisville and Jeff Capel left Coach K’s side to be the Head Coach at Pittsburgh. Chris Mack has inherited quite a mess at Louisville, as they fired their longtime successful Head Coach Rick Pitino last summer amid allegations that he lost control of his program. They elevated assistant David Pagett to Head Coach to get the team through the 2017-2018 season, which he did successfully. The administration decided to move on from any tie to Pitino, including getting rid of Tom Jurich as Athletic Director. Mack will have the best of a bad situation, as he is the new AD’s guy, which will give him some much-needed leeway. Mack comes from a very successful Xavier program that has produced a lot of big-time NCAA basketball coaches. Starting with Pete Gillen, who went from Xavier to the Big East’s Providence Friars to the Virginia Cavaliers.
Gillen was followed at Xavier by the late Skip Prosser, who was wildly successful and then went to Wake Forest of the ACC. Prosser was followed by Thad Matta, who also was successful at Xavier before moving up to the Ohio State University of the Big Ten. Matta was followed by the ultra-successful Sean Miller before he landed an upgrade at Arizona, which led to Mack becoming the Head Coach at the Cincinnati based university. Whoever takes over the Xavier program will have some pressure on them to continue the stretch of success they’re currently enjoying. When they keep this machine churning there will be a payday at the end of the road for them. Louisville is getting in Mack a coach that is as good with X’s and O’s, as he is on the recruiting trail. Mack will not be intimidated by the other big name coaches in the ACC, as he has been in big pressure packed games in the tournament before. Xavier has been to the dance 8 times and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in four of those appearances. Good luck to Coach Mack at Louisville.
The other big-time move in the college basketball world this week was Duke Assistant Coach Jeff Capel going to Pittsburgh as the Head Coach. Capel has been a Head Coach before at the University of Oklahoma, where he was mildly successful before they let him go amid allegations of players receiving impermissible benefits. Capel was at Oklahoma for 5 years. The first three were decently successful, but the last two were some of the worst in Oklahoma basketball history. Capel then returned to Duke as an Assistant. He played at Duke from 1993-1997. Capel was instrumental in garnering Duke the top recruiting class in 4 of the last 5 years. Capel is going to Pitt of the ACC, who lost every conference game last year and most of them were not close. Capel has a rebuild on his hands, but being the great recruiter that he is, he should have the Panthers back being competitive in short order. Common thinking is that he will be the next Head Coach at Duke when Coach K steps down. In my opinion, Duke needed Capel to go to a Power 5 school, win, and not have any issues in order for them to feel good about hiring him as the next head coach. Good Luck to Coach Capel, he will need it rebuilding Pitt!