As a fan base, we're incredibly disappointed by this season. Even those of us who defend Pitino can no longer ignore the obvious criticisms. Personally, I forgot what offense looks like. Seriously. A terrible offense/great defense combination means nobody scores for either team. Something needs to change.
However, the pragmatic fans among us ask, "would things get better if Pitino gets the axe?" You can hire someone based on potential (e.g., Shaka Smart) or someone based on accomplishment. One well-established piece of information about the NBA draft is that players go a few spots higher than their merit indicates if they just came off a deep tournament run. The same is true for coaches. One final four can easily be a fluke. VCU had a good run last year, but let's remember, the bracket fell apart in front of them.
So, which coaches have been objectively more successful than Pitino in the last 5 years or so?
Let's start with the Big East
Pitino has won the most regular season games since the merger. That's not as good as tournament success, but it says something. Pitino has been to two elite eights in the last 5 years.
Calhoun won a championship and went to another final four, so he gets the nod despite missing the tournament twice.
John Thompson III has a solid program and has been to a final four. A strong argument could be made for him.
Jay Wright and Bob Huggins went to final fours, but they haven't been as successful during the regular season and both are missing the tournament this year. Our fanbase would not stand for that. To me, this is a wash.
Jamie Dixon isn't getting it done any better than Pitino. Jim Boeheim has had some good teams, but has had arguably less tournament success and lost 7 in a row to Pitino.
Big East: Calhoun, John Thompson III
On to the SEC...
John Calipari is killing it. He made his first ever Final Four last year, after a long career going on vacation for the last weekend of the tournament. If we're being honest, there's no argument here.
Billy Donovan won his 2nd of two championships five years ago. He's been mediocre to above average otherwise, but he gets the nod for the championship.
No one else in the SEC is even close.
SEC: John Calipari, Billy Donovan
The Big 10.
This one's simple. Tom Izzo has been getting it done for a very long time. I read somewhere that every player he's had in 10 years has played in at least one final four.
Thad Matta has been a recruiting mastermind. He's been to a championship game, and could have made the final four last year.
No one else is worth consideration.
Big 10: Tom Izzo, Thad Matta
Obviosuly Roy Williams and Coach K have been more successful. Nothing else really needs to be said about that. No one else has been to the final four from the ACC in over 10 years.
ACC: Coach K, Roy Williams
On to the Big 12
Bill Self has absolutely dominated the Big 12 since he took over after Roy Williams said, "I don't give a shit about North Carolina." He won a championship.
Maybe Rick Barnes, but he's had zero tournament success.
Big 12: Bill Self
Ben Howland had a really nice run of 3 straight final fours. But, his program is in shambles. None of us want that at UL.
Pac 12: No one
How about mid majors?
You can't ignore Brad Stevens. Personally, I'm convinced it was a combination of good coaching and fortuitousness. Still, back-to-back championship games are more impressive than Pitino's back-to-back wins over Stevens.
Gonzaga, UNLV, St. Marys, etc.... I'm not buying any of it.
So, who's better than Pitino?
Calhoun, John Thompson III, John Calipari, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, Thad Matta, Roy Williams, Coach K, Bill Self, Brad Stevens
If we could hire one of these 10 guys (outside of the 2 who are already pulling social security), most UL fans would probably be on board. Of these, we could potentially hire Brad Stevens. That's it.
There are dozens of coaches with potential (e.g., Shaka Smart, Sean Miller, Bruce Pearl~, etc...). But, don't forget. There are always dozens of coaches with potential. Do we really want to get rid of a hall of fame coach for potential? Pitino's not meeting expectations, but we aren't an awful program either. If we get rid of him for potential, we could end up missing the tournament for a few years while we rebuild.
Some might say, "missing the tournament is just as bad as only getting past the first weekend twice in five years." I say, that's crazy. You gotta be in it to win it. A tournament without UL is not a tournament at all.
If you don't like this post, please read it and call me an asshole. God knows I'd do it to you.