Before you read any further, understand there isn’t much information in this article that those of you who have followed us on Twitter don’t already know. We have waited for the dust to settle and for any rumors to take shape, but none have. Since, for the immediate future, it appears nothing formal is going to come about on the Marquette head coaching vacancy, we figured we’d do a write-up to get everyone up to speed.
First and foremost, Marquette is now looking to replace a head coach and entire coaching staff after Buzz Williams accepted the head coaching job at Virginia Tech and, as of this afternoon, the entire coaching staff — minus Jerry Wainwright — is also out. Wainwright will stay on staff for now, helping with the transition of the program between coaches. It’s unclear if he’ll stay on staff after a new head coach is hired, though that seems unlikely. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see assistants Isaac Chew and Brad Autry to wind up at Virginia Tech; Chew believes in Williams and Autry has been his right-hand man for quite some time.
The Golden Eagles want an experienced head coach who has had “elite success,” a source told Paint Touches last week. The first call Marquette made was to Ben Howland, as reported by the Journal-Sentinel’s Michael Hunt. ESPN’s Andy Katz tweeted shortly after news broke on Williams that Howland was interested in the job, and there still seems to be mutual interest between the two sides.
Multiple reports came down on Sunday that Marquette and Howland were close to finalizing a deal, but a source close to the program said there was “no truth” to those reports. As of Tuesday there was no new information on Howland, though Hunt is reporting that Howland would take the job immediately if offered but has not heard back from Marquette.
And that’s perhaps because he went on the back burner Monday when ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported that Marquette (and Wake Forest) had reached out to VCU head coach Shaka Smart. That’s when the entire Twitter world went nuts, beginning with tweets from 247 Sports’ Jerry Meyer, who said multiple sources told him Smart to Marquette was “very likely to happen and happen soon,” while BrewCityBall’s Jim Ganzer predicted Smart would be the next coach at Marquette.
Sources close to the program did not immediately respond to Paint Touches about those initial reports. We reported as much. Things really began getting out of control around 4:30, when various reports said an announcement of Smart’s hiring would take place at 5 p.m. That would have been fine if true, except Marquette never called for any announcement to take place, with SID Scott Kuykendall announcing that the team’s postseason banquet would be at the Harley-Davidson museum.
Still, that did not stop various TV personalities from tweeting the news that Smart was to be named the next Marquette head coach. When Jeff Goodman tweeted that no deal was done or, more importantly, imminent, that seemed to put to rest any reports or rumors from any other outlets. Like him or not, Goodman is as in touch in the college basketball world as any other reporter. When he says something, it’s because he’s spoken to people as close to the situation as possible.
But 30 minutes later, Ganzer tweeted that Smart to Marquette was a “done deal.” It’s absolutely worth noting that Ganzer has a solid track record and certainly is in tune with the happenings of the program. But shortly after his tweet, Paint Touches spoke with a source close to the coaching search who said a deal was not done, and Hunt and FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Andrew Gruman reported the same.
You must, must, must read Anonymous Eagles’ play-by-play of the events. It truly was wild.
No deal came on Monday, with Deadspin putting together quite the embarrassing compilation of local TV outlets reporting that the deal was complete, presumably using Ganzer’s tweet as their source.
Early Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Adam Finkelstein reported that “Shaka Smart spoke to VCU commits (and) their coaches yesterday (and) assured them he isn’t going anywhere.” Later in the day, Goodman held a chat on ESPN.com, where he addressed the Smart rumors. In short, he wrote that “I’m being told (Smart’s) leaning toward turning (Marquette) down.” Later he responded “My gut? I don’t think so” in regards to whether Smart was coming to Marquette.
Goodman did speculate that the three most likely candidates for the job were Howland, Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins and Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle. He also said that Marquette did not have interest in Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall.
And that’s where we stand. Things have been quiet since Goodman’s chat, only with Paint Touches confirming that the coaching staff — minus Wainwright — was gone.
Paint Touches can confirm here that Smart is not out as a possible candidate for the Marquette job, according to a source. While Goodman and Finkelstein believe the chances of him landing in Milwaukee aren’t good, the door has not yet been closed.
We’ll keep you posted on everything else that happens throughout the week, and make sure to follow us on Twitter (@PaintTouches) for up-to-the-minute updates.