Georgetown, understandably, was indebted to its own history. It’s a great history. It is a groundbreaking history. It’s history has helped define men’s college basketball for a very long time. He doesn’t have to forget that history.
It must prioritize the future. This necessarily means restarting, deleting and deleting again, without feeling. Patrick Ewing should be the last physical link to John Thompson II and the Georgetown Men’s League coaching chair, following his firing on Thursday. The change is long overdue, but it’s still due.
This is a delicate matter. It may even require a bit of institutional courage. But the free fall in on-field results should make it an easy enough sell for athletic director Lee Reed and other decision-makers at the school. After all, Big John would want Georgetown to win. And win big. The only way he can achieve this is through a clear search for something new.
Georgetown basketball has championship potential. Recent results do not change that. It is a sport at the core of the school’s sports identity. Top priority. Georgetown reported $14 million in men’s basketball expenses for the 2019-2020 season, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That’s not a number without reserve costs in the same stratosphere of Kentucky spending…but it’s $2 million more than North Carolina spent over the same period. What I want is here.
The local recruiting ground is teeming with talent, which mitigates the brand devaluation that has occurred recently; there are many good players who know about men’s basketball at Georgetown. And if the program can build some momentum, there’s at least a chance it could renew its visibility nationally. Which means, in theory, the coach can chase whoever he wants. It’s an ideal scenario, yes, and a far cry from where Georgetown is now. But it is likely.
Patrick Ewing won’t say that. Neither will Georgetown. But this seems like the end
The benefits are real. How connected and competent the leadership is, each candidate will have to assess. But if Reed leads the way in recruiting and has the freedom to make a proper reboot, then the alignment should work itself out. Anyone he hires will understand that it’s a partnership.
That is a very, very big hole that Georgetown dug itself. That’s no small problem in a Big East that continues to add high-quality coaches. But he has the means to climb.
(in alphabetical order)
Kevin Keatts, NC State head coach. These would be both sides that hit at the right time, with Keatts winning off the hot seat in Raleigh and Georgetown taking advantage of a coach who had just led a 12-win season-to-season improvement. The school would have to be willing to go well below $3 million a year to make that happen.
Mike Jones, Virginia Tech associate head coach. Want to try turning the DMV talent channel into a raging river? Hire a guy who spent nearly two decades at DeMatha Catholic High School. Add years spent on the same bench as Mike Young, and Georgetown can be confident that Jones is ready. He’s also likely cheaper than some of the other higher-profile candidates, if buying out Ewing has thinned the coffers.
Matt Langel, Colgate head coach. It would be a pretty aggressive swing and turn, but not without reason. It will be four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for Colgate – in years where the tournament has actually been played – and it’s as fresh a sight as you can imagine. In addition, Langel beat Syracuse two years in a row. That still has to count for something in Georgetown.
Rick Pitino, Iona head coach. There’s no doubt Pitino wants another crack at the big deal. No doubt he would consider Georgetown a big deal. Whether Georgetown deems it appropriate, on multiple levels, is another matter. But victories will follow. They always do.
Micah Shrewsberry, Penn State head coach. The Nittany Lions were a little restless in Shrewsberry’s sophomore year, but they can make the NCAA Tournament regardless. He has a player development mindset that would fit well in that position. Would he leave his Big Ten job for Georgetown? You’d think, given the relative caps of both programs, that he’d be gone this one Big Ten job for Georgetown.
Rodney Terry, Texas acting head coach. He earned Big 12 Coach of the Year honors, but it’s still unclear if he’ll land the full-time job. There is a lot of talk about Chris Del Conte thinking more broadly. But a defensive-minded coach obsessed with recruiting? That could play here.
The rent is…
Do it, Georgetown. Shake the world. Hire Rick Pitino.
(Top photo of Rick Pitino: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)