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Louisville coaching search: The mid-major candidates


Kansas v New Mexico St Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

You don’t want to be Louisville interim president Greg Postel right now.

After essentially firing athletic director Tom Jurich and men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino on Wednesday amid the fallout of a seismic FBI investigation into the college game, he is about to be neck-deep in university house and image cleaning.

Postel said in a press conference Wednesday that he hopes to name an interim athletic director and basketball coach in the next 48 hours, and who he picks for each post will set the tone for whatever comeback the program has in mind.

The next coach needs to be good. He needs to be clean. He needs to be willing to jump into a mess of a situation with sanctions surely on the way. And he needs to be willing to leave his team, which presumably is ready for the season now, and take over this mess with practice starting in a few days.

Good luck.

If Louisville hires internally (an insane, yet real possibility) assistant David Padgett would likely get the job. It’s presumed that he was not part of the probe — one that alleges a Louisville coach funneled $100,000 to five-star freshman Brian Bowen’s family — and if he is hired, he better be squeaky clean.

If Louisville (more wisely) looks outside of its own program, here are some candidates from the mid-major world who would make sense. Of course this relies on any of these coaches even being interested in getting involved in the first place.

Scott Davenport (Bellarmine)

You don’t often see Division II coaches named as candidates for Power 5 head coaching jobs, but these are strange times. Davenport is entering his 13th season as Bellarmine head coach and is coming off a 32-4 season that ended in the D-II national semifinals. He also led the Knights to the 2011 national championship, giving the university its first-ever national title in any sport. Before taking the reigns at Bellarmine, Davenport spent nine seasons as an assistant at Louisville, spanning the Denny Crum and Pitino eras.

Marvin Menzies (UNLV)

Sure, Menzies has only been at UNLV for a year and that year wasn’t exactly successful. But he’s a former Louisville assistant who had a wealth of success at New Mexico State before getting the call up to the Mountain West. He took the Aggies to five NCAA Tournaments and an NIT, and only lost two total conference games over his final two seasons. As far as recruiting chops goes, he has an elite class coming to the Rebels this season, led by five-star forward Brandon McCoy and two other four-stars. He also has a four-star recruit signed on for 2018.

John Brannen (Northern Kentucky)

Brannen is young, local, and would be a good pick-up if the Tom Creans of the world say no. After 16 years as an assistant coach, from Charleston to Alabama, Brannen took over a Northern Kentucky program that reached the NCAA Tournament in its first year of eligibility as a Division I school. The Norse won just nine games in his first year in 2015-16, but turned it around to go 24-11, capped by an improbable Horizon League championship. The Alexandria, Kentucky native knows the state well and, if he’s not picked, could become a hot name on the coaching carousel in the near future.

Joe Dooley (Florida Gulf Coast)

Dooley is one of those guys who will be floated as a candidate for a high-major job until he actually takes one. So why not now? After a decade as an assistant at Kansas, Dooley has been nothing short of phenomenal in his four-year tenure at FGCU. The Eagles are coming off a 26-8 season and their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, and Dooley is the reigning Atlantic Sun coach of the year. He has a good team coming back to Fort Myers, so he might not want to leave right now, even for a job like Louisville. But it might be worth a phone call...