As Pitt’s coaching search nears the two-week mark, there seems to be some optimism that the end is finally in sight. Here’s where things stand as of Day 13.
Pitt’s top target is Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley. The Panthers have extended an offer to Hurley’s camp that exceeds $3 million per year, which would come pretty close to making Hurley the highest-paid coach in Pitt history and would put him somewhere in the Top 25 of basketball coaches nationally.
Despite the generosity of the offer, Hurley remains undecided, mulling a competing offer from Connecticut, and also a strong push on Tuesday from those that would like to see him remain at Rhode Island.
There’s been plenty of debate on Twitter about whether Pitt or UConn is the better job, but much of that is irrelevant. It only matters what Hurley wants, and Pittsburgh is five hours away from his home turf, while Storrs, Ct., is a stone’s throw. So it’s not as if the better job always wins in these scenarios, anyway.
That debate also misses the fact that this debate isn’t really Pitt vs. UConn. It’s Pitt vs. UConn vs. any other job that could open in the next two years. If Hurley is eventually eyeing a job at a spot higher up the food chain than Pitt or UConn, he’d be better off staying at Rhode Island until it opens rather than jump twice.
Look at what Archie Miller did at Dayton. Miller turned down Pitt in 2016, stayed in the Atlantic-10, and got the Indiana job the next year. There are plenty of jobs that could open in the next two years between the usual amount of turnover plus the ongoing FBI scandal that has already cost Rick Pitino his job and probably won’t stop there.
Clearly, even if Pitt think it’s in the lead for Hurley, the Panthers need to have some other irons in the fire.
Pitt seems to have that with Sean Miller expressing interest in the job and the Panthers kicking the tires on Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard this week in addition to previously covered names liked Boston Celtics assistant Micah Shrewsberry, Atlanta Hawks assistant Chris Jent and St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt.
The fact that Pitt offered Hurley $3 million will certainly get some attention.
NAME OFF THE BOARD
Virginia assistant Ron Sanchez was hired by UNC Charlotte. It’s not known if Pitt ever made contact with Sanchez, but it’s interesting to note that Sanchez was hired without the benefit of a search firm. Nice hire by the 49ers.
ANOTHER DOOR CLOSED
As expected, Memphis has hired Penny Hardaway just a few days after letting Tubby Smith go, so that open job didn’t have much effect on the others.
Nevada’s Eric Mussleman is a hot name thanks to the Wolfpack’s Sweet 16 appearance, but PSN hasn’t been able to connect him to the Pitt job. Maybe he wants to wait until the end of his season to pursue other opportunities.
Meanwhile, Louisville’s season ended Tuesday night with a loss to Mississippi State in the NIT, meaning that the Cardinals can begin in earnest the search for a permanent replacement to Rick Pitino. That could be interim coach David Padgett, but it’s more likely to be a coach that already has a job, meaning the Cardinals opening could set off some serious dominoes.
Some names being tossed around for Louisville include Xavier’s Chris Mack, Texas coach Shaka Smart and UCLA’s Steve Alford. The ripple effect could very well end up making a difference in Pitt’s ongoing search.