The timeline for hiring the new Louisville men’s head basketball coach was always going to be tricky.
On one hand, Cardinal fans are (understandably) eager to turn the page to the next era of U of L hoops as quickly as possible. On the other, there are almost certain to be multiple top tier candidates whose 2022 postseason runs last either slightly or much longer than Louisville’s.
Toss in the fact that there are tons of head coaches who have buyouts dropping on April 1 and the still more than murky timeline for when U of L is going to hear back from the NCAA/IARP, and things become even more difficult to predict.
Thankfully, interim athletic director Josh Heird went on Jeff Greer’s “Floyd Street’s Finest” podcast to shed some light on the situation.
In a perfect world, Heird says U of L would be able to name its next head coach very close to the end of its current season so that the new coach could hit the ground running when it comes to assembling his roster for the 2022-23 season.
“If we continue this thing through April, the next thing you know we’re not going to have any student athletes to compete on our basketball team,” Heird said. “I say that half-joking, but I’m not, because almost every coach that we have now, they essentially have to re-recruit their current roster. So imagine going through that process without a head coach.
“We’re doing a disservice to our current student-athletes if we don’t have a coach in place sooner than later. Obviously it goes without saying it’s a disservice to any of the high school kids who have committed to us. Ideal terms, we have a coach here named close to the conclusion of our season.”
Heird added that some of this will depend on whether or not an interested candidate is willing to have a conversation with U of L while their season is still going on, and also if there’s a candidate that U of L might be willing to wait a little bit longer to hear back from.
While Heird made it a point to state multiple times that none of this is definitive, the fact that his “ideal” timeline is very close to the end of Louisville’s season is yet another sign that would seem to point in the direction of Kenny Payne. Just about every other head coach who has been rumored to be a candidate has a team that plans on hearing their name called on Selection Sunday. Payne is pretty much the only man in the conversation who U of L could reach out to five minutes after the team bows out of the ACC tournament and know that he would be willing to have a discussion and potentially commit to taking the job.
You can listen to Greer’s full conversation with Heird (and I highly encourage you to do so), by going right here.