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The 2021 Marquette Basketball Coaching Search: A DO NOT HIRE List

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Let’s talk about the people who the Golden Eagles should avoid when filling the vacancy.

Seton Hall v Marquette Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Friday, Marquette men’s basketball suddenly had a job vacancy, as athletic director Bill Scholl announced that Steve Wojciechowski will not be returning for an eighth season in charge of the Golden Eagles.

The most obvious direction to go in the immediate wake of this news is to make a list of candidates that could/would/might accept the job if they were offered it, with emphasis on coaches that I would most want to see get the job. But that’s the easy direction. In fact, Ryan Jackson over at Paint Touches has already put together a list. Go check that out if that’s what you’re interested in reading.

We’re going to go in the other direction here. This is going to be a list of coaches that I absolutely do NOT want to see patrolling the Marquette sideline in November 2021. There’s a lot of varying reasons as we go from person to person on this list, but at the end of the day, these are the people I do not want acting as steward of the program going forward. There’s no particularly order to this list, they’re just numbered for the sake of organization, nor is this a full and complete list.

#1 — Travis Diener or Dwyane Wade or Steve Novak or whatever other former Marquette player you can think of that has no coaching experience.

Look. I have lots of warm memories about [insert former Marquette player here], and so do you, and so do thousands and thousands of Marquette fans. Would it be fun to see Dwyane Wade stalking the sidelines? Yeah, probably! It also would mean handcuffing the team by occupying one of the four full time coaching positions with a guy who has never coached at all ever. We just went through seven years of a guy with oodles of experience sitting next to maybe the greatest college basketball coach ever and that didn’t go super great. Let’s not invite in problems that are completely avoidable and also dodge the problem of things getting awkward with a guy who is otherwise a Marquette hoops legend. Go ask St. John’s about how much fun it was to fire a guy who won three Big East Player Of The Year trophies.

#2 — Archie Miller

I’m not pulling this out of thin air, this was actually suggested in the comments of the Anonymous Eagle Facebook page. No and thank you. He just went 67-58 overall and 33-45 in Big Ten play in four seasons while never making the NCAA tournament at Indiana and was just fired as a result of that. Not for nothing, but that’s actually a worse record than Steve Wojciechowski’s (54% vs 60% overall, 42% vs 51% in league) in the same time period. Did he have four great years at Dayton in the Atlantic 10 before that? Yes! Do I feel like gambling Marquette’s immediate future on a guy who showed no signs that he could succeed in the Big Ten, a conference that I would like to believe we can successfully argue is comparable to the Big East? No, I absolutely do not.

#3 — Brian Wardle

We return to the Former Golden Eagle Well here for a very specific case. Yes, Wardle has 11 years of Division 1 head coaching experience, and yes, he qualified for the 2019 and the 2020 NCAA tournaments at Bradley (although the 2020 tournament wasn’t actually contested). I’m not even going to ding him for only making it to two tourneys in 11 seasons, because getting to the the national championship field of 68 from one bid leagues like the Horizon League and the Missouri Valley Conference can be very hard.

I am going to point out, though, that Wardle went 9-9 and 11-7 in the MVC in the two years that he got his Bradley squad to the NCAA tournament. That was a tied for fifth performance and a tied for third performance where he — let’s be fair and honest here — caught a break or two to win the conference tournament and thus take the MVC’s automatic bid.

That’s more “let’s be wary” kind of stuff, though. The stuff that disqualifies Wardle as MU head coach for me is 1) what was presumably the reason for his departure from Green Bay and 2) how he handled his first ever NCAA tournament appearance as a head coach. In April of 2013, there was a verbal & emotional abuse complaint lodged against Wardle. The UW-Green Bay investigation into the matter revealed that, apparently, the alleged incidents did not happen as originally described, so Wardle kept his job but he was disciplined for his behavior. Wardle left Green Bay for Bradley two years later. Is it directly related to the incident? Maybe not, but when part of the discipline was “we’re not going to renegotiate a contract for the rest of 2013” and Wardle had just two seasons left on his deal when he left, I’m left with the impression that there was still aftershocks from the accusation.

Then, in 2019, while at Bradley, Wardle elected to get into a tiff with a local beat reporter in Peoria. While the team was celebrating the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2006. Because the reporter wasn’t “promoting the Bradley brand.” I can’t make this nonsense up. Actually, that was just when the tiff blew up into national news as, if you read the Chicago Tribune article I just linked, Wardle has had a running feud with the beat writer and elected to use the NCAA tournament appearance to wield his power.... and come off looking like a gigantic ding dong.

That’s strike two, and strike one was actually a lot worse. No thanks.

#4 — Stan Johnson or Brett Nelson

Why would we want a coach who couldn’t help Steve Wojciechowski figure it out? This goes for Dwayne Killings, Justin Gainey, and Jake Presutti as well, I guess, but they didn’t make the heading because I definitely do not want a head coach with zero head coaching experience this time around.

#5 — Joe Chapman

Back to the Former Golden Eagles Well again! Yes, Joe Chapman coached Marquette’s TBT team to a title this past summer. Yes, he’s had success coaching the squad in TBT before the 2020 event, which was reduced in size due to the pandemic. Yes, he has experience at the club level with his Chapman Basketball Academy.

Chapman still gets a big ol’ no from me.

Like I said in the last item, I think Marquette needs to go after a candidate with Division 1 head coaching experience here, and that automatically disqualifies Chapman. There’s a big ol’ difference between coaching a college team and coaching a TBT team with multiple players who have been in the NBA. There’s a big ol’ difference between running the CBA and running the recruiting operation for a Division 1 team. If we’re going to gamble on someone who has never even been an assistant at the Division 1 level, there are better options than Chapman.

#6 — Buzz Williams

I don’t know how serious the people are who keep saying that they want Buzz Williams back on the Marquette sideline. But I keep seeing that pop up, and that’s a big ol’ nope from me. “But Andy, he wins!” He has a lower winning percentage at Virginia Tech and Texas A&M than he had at Marquette and has won a grand total of three postseason games since leaving Milwaukee, which is only one more than Steve Wojciechowski. He’s also completely bonkers and I’d like to avoid dealing that particular brand of unhinged ever again, thank you.

#7 — Gregg Marshall

Available as in currently not employed and yet not available for Marquette. I always thought it was likely that Marshall wasn’t leaving Wichita State in years past because they were paying him a whole big bunch of money and cost of living in Wichita was pretty advantageous to having a whole big bunch of money. As it turns out, maybe he wasn’t taking a different job because other people knew he was a jackass. Look no further for proof that he is a jackass than he was forced out at Wichita State because he assaulted one of his players and one of his assistant coaches. If you prefer a more neutral explanation, think about it this way: A university employee with a student-facing job assaulted one of the students that he supervises as well as one of the employees in his department that directly reports to him.

He honestly should never coach in an academic setting ever again.

#8 — Rick Pitino

There are a lot of reasons to not want Rick Pitino as your head coach. If your goal is to run a squeaky clean program no matter what, then you probably shouldn’t hire Rick Pitino, even if the NCAA hasn’t ever pinned anything stronger than “failure to monitor” on him.

Anyway, that’s not the reason why I don’t want to hire Pitino away from Iona.

It should take you about 15 seconds to Google up the answer why I don’t want Rick Pitino coaching at Marquette. I will be making jokes about Rick Pitino approximately every 15 seconds if he is the head coach of the Golden Eagles. I will find myself completely unable to focus on running this website for longer than 15 seconds at a time if Rick Pitino is the head coach of the men’s basketball team as a result of the jokes that will be constantly spilling out of my head.

This isn’t me exaggerating for effect. The idea of Pitino leaving Iona has kicked around in various conversations that I’ve head, in person, via text, and via DMs. On average, I have been unable to pass up an opportunity to make a joke once every 15 seconds in these conversations. I can not cope with the concept, much less the actual event transpiring. Please do not do this to me. Thank you.