Thursday, May 30, 2024

College basketball coaching carousel: Grading the COVID-era college hoops hires of 2020 — four years later

Matt Norlander’s annual/unique coaching report card looks back on the bizarre cycle of 2020, which featured only one power-conference hire

Wake Forest v Pittsburgh
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I’ve been wondering for four years what this story would look like. 

If you’re a regular reader, you’re aware that I don’t grade coaching hiring in the days, weeks or even a year after they get made. Sure, immediate grades are easy fodder for clicks, but I’m more interested in letting the stew cook and giving a coach four full seasons after they get a job to hand out a proper review. It is the fairest — instead of fastest — way to do this. (Obviously, for good and bad, some guys don’t make it four years.)

I look at the entire body of work: overall record, conference success, NCAA Tournament appearances and win rate in the Big Dance (depending on what job the coach takes). There’s also recruiting hits/misses and, in recent years, how coaches have managed the transfer portal. How good was the situation when a coach took the job and where does it stand four years later? 

I normally reserve this annual feature for the high-major hirings, but 2020 was different. With the coronavirus pandemic in full throe, that year’s coaching carousel cycle was the dimmest we had in decades. In fact, only one high-major program made a coaching change. In total as just 24 jobs switched that year. (Compare that to 2024, which had a whopping 64 flips.)

For previous report cards, here are my four-years-later evals from hirings in 201320142015201620172018 and 2019.

It would be no fun to only look at the one power-conference hiring of 2020, though, right? Right. So, for this year only, I’m including five other mid-major hirings from four years back that worked out very well. Here are the most notable coaching moves four years removed from the COVID-impacted carousel. May we never experience anything like it again.

Grading 2020’s most successful/notable coaching hires

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