First, I am of the same mind as Mike Rutherford as to Pitino being on the hot seat. We could lose every remaining game this year and Rick will still be back (barring his own decision to walk away) next year, if only for financial reasons.
That said, I see a lot of people throwing Brad Stephens's name around as a potential replacement, should we find ourselves in need of a coach next year. Let's get this on the record right now: Brad Stephens would be a Kragthorpe-level misstep for the Cardinal basketball program. He ABSOLUTELY is the wrong guy for us. Here's why:
1. He plays a slow-it-down Tubby-ball style. His teams are lockdown defensive squads that play a deliberate offense, limit possessions, and try to avoid running at all costs. In other words, the exact same attributes that make our team almost unwatchable this year. I guarantee you the faithful would be screaming about the pain of watching a slew of 59-54 games every year, even if we were winning.
2. He has absolutely no recruiting track record. Yes, Stephens stole some talent with Howard, Mack and so forth, but only because those guys were underrated, and he has absolutely no experience going head to head for elite-level recruits. That's job requirement #1 for the next UofL coach. If you can't land a Top 10 class every year, you don't get to apply. Period.
3. His slow-starting teams would get murdered in the Big East. Even in his title-game years, Stephens's squads started slow and then worked out their kinks in the Horizon League. By the time the tourney started, they were finally capable of winning consistently. That's a recipe for disaster in the Big East, as weekly visits from Top 25 squads leaves little time or margin to "get better" and "figure things out."
Stephens is a perfect fit at Butler, where he can steal some underrated guys, mold them into pit bull defenders and then make some noise when the March cameras are rolling. But then, Steve Kragthorpe was a perfect fit at Tulsa, too. Stephens may have the chops to run a Top 10 program, but he needs to prove it at a stop a bit more challenging and prestigious than Butler -- or at least land some elite-level recruits and win some banner nonconference games at Butler -- before he earns the keys to Cardinal basketball.
We're not a training ground. We're a destination. You don't come here to "find out" if you can coach at the highest level. You come to Louisville because we already know you can.