The four coaches that could end up in Ann Arbor
Many were surprised to see former University of Michigan Head Coach, John Beilein, head to the NBA and take head coaching position with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. In 12 seasons at Michigan, Beilein accumulated a record of 278-150, including two trips to the national championship game—in 2013 and 2018—both losses.
Questions quickly arose as to who Michigan Athletic Director, Warde Manuel will look to coin as Beilein’s successor. Beilein took over the Michigan program following the firing of Tommy Amaker, following five seasons with West Virginia.
At the time, West Virginia was a member of the Big East, before deciding to leave the conference in 2013. That said, there is precedent in Michigan finding a really good, program-changing coach from the Big East. In the past 36 hours, a few current Big East Coaching names have arose. Let’s take a look at four that could make the jump to Ann Arbor.
LaVall Jordan (Butler)- Jordan’s name was one of the first to come up, as he spent six seasons at Michigan as an assistant to Beilein. Jordan was one of their top recruiters during this time, recruiting and working with the likes of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. In two seasons as the head coach at Butler, he has failed to finish in the top half of the conference, and has one NCAA Men’s Tournament appearance. He should be considered, but I don’t think he’s done enough as a head coach just yet.
Steve Wojciechowski (Marquette)- Woj has done a good job at Marquette in his five seasons with the school, posting a 97-69 record, including two Tournament appearances. He’s yet to win a tournament game, however, and just saw two of his top returning players in Sam Hauser and Joey Hauser, put their names into the transfer portal. Woj’s name came up with the Virginia Tech opening as well, but there wasn’t much traction there.
Ed Cooley (Providence)- I’m sorry Providence fans, but I have to put the cool Ed Cooley on this list. I hate to do it, but I have to. In fact, I believe he is the most qualified for the Michigan job. Whether at Fairfield or Providence, Cooley has just won games. He took the Friars to five straight NCAA Men’s Tournaments, before missing out this past season. He also led the Friars to the the Big East Tournament Championship in 2014. Manuel was also the AD at UConn— before heading to Michigan—so has seen Cooley as a part of the Big East, albeit in a very short time frame. Cooley is born and raised in Providence, and is a New England guy. I doubt he leaves for Michigan, but he has the resume to do so.
Kevin Willard (Seton Hall)- . I’m not sure if any coach has been more under the radar than Willard. In his nine seasons as head coach of the Pirates, he has a .573 winning percentage, and has made four consecutive Tournament appearances. Willard has also led Seton Hall to four consecutive top-3 Big East regular season finishes. Willard has recruited and developed pro-level players at Seton Hall; something Michigan is also known to do well. If there’s a Big East guy that ends up in Ann Arbor, it might just be him.
As much as it would be nice to include Jay Wright in this list—and make a nice number of five—it isn’t happening. Wright isn’t going anywhere. In the coming days, we will see where this coaching search goes. It feels as if one of these coaches were to get the call it would be Willard.
For the sake of the Big East, it would be nice for all four of these coaches to remain in the league, but Michigan is a top-5 job in men’s college basketball. An offer might just be too difficult to pass up.