Marquette finally did it! After seven sometimes fun (thank you Markus Howard), but mostly grueling and disappointing seasons, Marquette has parted ways with Steve Wojciechowski. Below are the top choices to take over for the Golden Eagles.
Porter Moser became one of the most attractive mid major coaches when he led Loyola-Chicago to the Final Four in 2018. This season he led the Ramblers to their third regular season Missouri Valley Conference championship in four years (second place in the other year). Loyola Chicago finished this season ranked in the top 25 and is in the Sweet Sixteen yet again. After playing at Creighton in 1986-1990, Moser’s coaching career has been focused in the Midwest. Moser’s teams feature strong defense, highlighted by their third ranked defense in Kenpom’s AdjD, which would be a nice shift from Marquette’s weak defenses under Wojo. The program Moser has built at Loyola-Chicago is incredible. What could he accomplish with Marquette’s resources? This hire would be a home run for the Golden Eagles.
The former UNC player has found success at UNC Greensboro. Since Miller was hired in 2011, he has taken the Spartans from being one of the worst teams in the Southern Conference to being an NCAA tournament regular. UNC Greensboro has won their regular season conference championship three times in the past five years (second and third the other two years). Miller is a young coach at just 37 years old. He has no coaching experience at a high level (assistant at Elon and High Point before UNCG), but after 10 years as a HC, Miller is ready to make a jump to the next level.
Ritchie has found success in his second stint at Liberty. In 2009, Ritchie left Liberty to be an assistant for his friend Tony Bennett at Virginia. He returned in 2015 and has won the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championship each of the last three years. McKay has been coaching since 1988 and has coached at various levels. Liberty is the fifth team McKay has been the head coach of with Oregon State (2000-2002) being the highest level team he has coached in the past. McKay coached NBA players Danny Granger and Seth Curry. With so much excellent experience, not taking a serious look at McKay would be a mistake for Marquette, especially coming off a coach who had no HC experience prior to Marquette.
Marquette may be the only high level program that will look to hire Johnson this year, but that might be everyone else’s loss. After serving as an assistant coach at seven different programs from 2003-2020 (Marquette 2015-2020), Johnson finally got his first head coaching job at Loyola Marymount. In his one season he led the Lions to a 13-9 record and a third place finish in the West Coast Conference. At Marquette, Johnson was a proven high level recruiter. He has shown to have a great connection with his players, an attribute Wojo appeared to struggle with. Johnson is still loved by the Marquette community and his hire would be a very welcome one.
Jay Wright’s top assistant has been at Villanova for the past seven years. Wright has praised Neptune’s X’s and O’s and player development skills. As Villanova has become one of the best basketball programs in the country, their top-tier player development has played a key part. Neptune is very young at 36 years-old and has no HC experience, but his years helping build Villanova with one of the country’s top coaches are very attractive.
Stephens is in year 17 as an assistant coach (8th as associate HC) for Tom Izzo at Michigan St. From 1999-2003 he was an assistant for Tom Crean at Marquette. He has coached in the last 19 NCAA tournaments, including five final four runs (one with Marquette in 2003). Stephens may be the successor to Izzo, but Marquette’s program will be in great hands if they can steal him away.
*Marquette fans will likely have a bias against assistants with no previous HC experience after Wojo (especially against Jon Scheyer and Chris Carrawell, two Duke assistants who will no doubt be hot coaching candidates).
Power Six Coaches
Oats has never had a losing season as a head coach. After four very successful seasons at Buffalo, Oats was hired by Alabama. In his second season with the Crimson Tide, they won the conference regular season and tournament championship and earned a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Would Oats leave Alabama for Marquette? Probably not, but maybe Marquette can snag the Watertown, WI native.
After coaching at Marquette from 1999-2008, Crean left for one of the most prestigious programs in the country in Indiana. Despite winning the Big Ten twice and leading Indiana to three Sweet 16s, Crean was let go in 2017. Crean would find a HC job again in 2018 at Georgia, Despite landing Anthony Edwards to play for him in 2019, Crean has not finished higher than 10th in the SEC, however; Georgia has improved every year he has been there. Crean’s final four run featuring Dwayne Wade is obviously remembered very fondly by Marquette and the return of his sideline antics would be a welcome sight for the Golden Eagle faithful.
After an unsuccessful stint in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers, one of college basketball’s most successful is jobless. Having 754 career division one wins, 13 career NCAA tournament appearances, and two NCAA finals appearances, Beilein’s resume speaks for itself. Marquette will have to hope the Jesuit college graduate (Wheeling Jesuit College) will consider returning to college basketball with the Golden Eagles.