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Who will Louisville’s interim basketball coach be? Some names to consider

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Because everyone else is doing it.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

When a major job opens up, a “here are the candidates” post is not only customary, it’s pretty much demanded. This is different, though. This is a situation where we’re not 100 percent sure what the team for the upcoming season is going to look like or if there are going to be additional sanctions levied against the program. Hell, we don’t even know who’s doing the hiring here.

Having said all that, here are the names that I believe you may hear pop up over the course of the next 48 hours. Keep in mind that we’re talking about just the coach for this season, not necessarily the man who will be tasked with taking over the program for 2018-19 and beyond.

Tom Crean

Ok, look, I don’t like this any more than you do. First, this was the guy we hated at Marquette because he kept beating us and accused Ellis Myles of faking a torn ACL. Then he was the super weird guy at Indiana who couldn’t beat us (or most anyone else) and was really easy to make fun of. Now he might be ... our interim head coach?

Jody Demling has already said that Crean to U of L has legs, and word around town is that the former IU coach has a very strong, sugary pizza-loving supporter. The only issue is there’s a direct tie to Kenny Johnson, which may or may not wind up being important in all of this. Again, it’s hard to do this without all the details.

I honestly don’t know how I would handle this. Probably with tears and then reverting to the “I’m just laughing at all this” fan mentality that I was forced to carry during the 2000-01 season.

David Padgett

Potentially the only major member of the last staff who could survive this, and therefore one of the most likely people out there to carry the interim tag into 2017-18. The season is so close and the players needs an answer sooner rather than later. If feelers to more established names don’t produce any results, then this might have to be the play. It would provide at least some semblance of continuity, and the fans would support the hell out of it.

Thad Matta

Matta’s firing at Ohio State in June came as a massive surprise to just about everyone around college basketball. Matta had been the head coach at OSU since 2004, guiding the Buckeyes to the Final Four in both 2007 and 2012. He ranks as the school’s all-time leader in both wins (337) and games coached (460). Under his watch, OSU won at least 20 games in 12-consecutive seasons (2005-2016), also a school record.

Additionally, Matta established a reputation throughout his coaching career of doing things “the right way,” a status he discussed during the press conference announcing his firing.

If it’s impossible for us to get a guy who already has a current job (practice starts Friday!), then this is who I’d like to see coaching U of L in 2017-18. He’s won at the highest-level, he comes off as easily likable, and he has a sparkling reputation for doing things the right way.

If Louisville can get a guy who already has a job....

Chris Mack

If Rick Pitino had walked away from the program two years ago, this would be your current Louisville basketball coach. Xavier fans and anyone else can roll their eyes at that if they want to. I understand. Everyone else is going to just have to trust me.

The issue here is that Mack just signed an extension earlier this month and he has a legitimate top 20 team that’s about to start practicing. He’s also a Xavier guy through and through, so leaving under any circumstances would de difficult, and leaving under these circumstances would be doubly so.

It feels like we may have missed what was an open window on this one.

Gregg Marshall

Another candidate from the (very) short list when Pitino’s future was in doubt a couple years ago, and another who was far more likely to leave then than he is now. Marshall could thrive at Louisville, and word for a long time has been that he’d like a grander stage, but it would have to be one of the grandest. There are large hurdles here as well, though.

For starters, he’s well-compensated (sup, Koch brothers?), and he’s very happy that Wichita State made the move to the AAC. He also has a team returning that could start this season ranked in the top five and has a legitimate shot at reaching the Final Four. This season could very well be his crowning achievement. That’s hard to walk away from when the next stop is rife with uncertainty.

Buzz Williams

The man has a strange obsession with thinking about being fired and where his next job might come. That being the case, if Louisville were to throw a lengthy (say, 10-year) deal in his direction, he might be more open to it than the average coach of a team about to start the season nationally ranked.

Scott Davenport

Louisville fans would be delighted and this would instantly become one of the easiest teams in the world to root for, but the man loves where he is at Bellarmine, and it’s hard for me to believe that he’d walk away right now, even for this gig.

John Thompson III

He’s done this before and he’s available.

Lorenzo Romar