For the second consecutive year, a Cincinnati college basketball team is looking for a new coach. Last year it was Xavier Basketball, now their crosstown rival is in the midst a coaching search.
Cincinnati Basketball head coach Mick Cronin will be the new UCLA Basketball head coach. Taking the helm at one of college basketball’s most prominent programs. Cronin was the Cincinnati Bearcats head coach for 13 seasons. Coaching the Bearcats to nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Plus, back-to-back American Athletic Conference Tournament titles last year and this year.
This comes roughly a year after Xavier hired Travis Steele to be their head coach. The Bearcats could take the same approach that Xavier did last year. In fact, it would be unsurprising if Cincinnati did something similar. Staying in-house by promoting an assistant to fill the head coaching vacancy. Though the Bearcats could also strike metaphorical gold with an outsider.
Hiring an insider to be the Bearcats next head coach could hinge on one factor. Whether any Bearcat assistants leave with Cronin for Westwood. Associate Head Coach Darren Savino could be someone to keep in mind. He is the assistant being mentioned the most currently in media reports. Either as Cronin’s successor or someone that leaves with Cronin.
The Bearcats have many qualified potential candidates to consider. Including candidates with regional ties; such as Northern Kentucky Basketball head coach John Brannen. Former Cincinnati Bearcats player Nick Van Exel is another name being bandied about. He is currently an assistant with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. There’s also speculation about Murray State Basketball coach Matt McMahon.
Hiring McMahon wouldn’t be a big surprise for a few reasons. First, Cronin was Murray State’s head coach before coming to Cincinnati. Second, hiring someone from the same school for the same job twice isn’t an unprecedented move for Cincinnati. The Bearcats took the same approach with their Football program several years ago. Hiring both Brian Kelly and his successor Butch Jones from Central Michigan.
Elsewhere, former St. John’s Basketball head coach Chris Mullin is another interesting potential candidate. He stepped down from the St. John’s job earlier this week for personal reasons. Though it’s unclear whether he would be interesting in coaching elsewhere right away. Mullin is the only potential name in the mix with no local ties to Cincinnati. Other names being floated around are Frank Martin and Rick Pitino.
Ultimately, Cincinnati has many decent options to consider. They could find a good coach by picking an insider or an outsider. Like Xavier last year, the next Bearcats coach will inherit a stable program.