Bearcats Breakfast 4.2.12

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Mick Cronin's postseason interview with Bill Koch provides evidence once again how lucky UC should feel to have this coach on the sidelines. Specifically from a school that has seen multiple quality football coaches bolt for greener pastures, to have a young coach willing and desiring to stay at this school for 20 years is a rarity.

Considering the high profile of the Big East, it's not at the same level of Brad Stevens sticking around at Butler or Shaka Smart turning down offers to leave VCU. In the same light, when schools with money to burn dangle it in front your guy and the conversation lasts five seconds -- as he told Bill -- that's makes for a gratifying offseason.

Cronin allows the rare combination of loyalty to alma mater, youth and success. As Cronin states all the time, he wants to be the Jim Boeheim of Cincinnati. The only way to accomplish such a run would be to own a combination of those three in a major conference.

Only 29 current NCAA basketball coaches are at their alma mater. Here's the list with all numbers according to

Of those 29, only eight lead teams in what I could consider major basketball conferences and half of those are over 49 -- the median age of college coaches:

Mick Cronin - UC - 40
Derek Kellogg - UMass - 38
Roy Williams - UNC - 61
Matt Painter - Purdue - 41
Jim Boeheim - Syracuse - 67
Dave Rice - UNLV - 43
Lorenzo Romar - Washington - 53
Bob Huggins - WVU - 58

(UPDATE: For some reason didn't list Chris Mack, 42. He's obviously among the top of this list and can be added in with Painter and Cronin)

Of the four young coaches on this list, judging success, only Painter and Cronin hold the combination. Dave Rice, while a nice coach and well on his way, just completed his first year at UNLV (26-9). Sidenote: Cronin and Rice will square off in a Vegas tournament over Thanksgiving.

In four seasons at UMass, Kellogg is under .500.

Painter, however, has reeled off six consecutive 20-win seasons and been to the Sweet 16 twice during his seven-year run with the Boilermakers.

Compare that with Cronin, who rebuilt the Bearcats and now accumulated back-to-back 26-wins seasons and won games in The Dance both years.

Looking at a specific category such as coaches at their alma mater under 50 may be slightly obscure in the eyes of some. Yet, in a sport where the coaches are the stars that sustain the program and finding the perfect combination of security, longevity and talent represents the holy trinity, UC is one of just two in the country to own a stranglehold on the trifecta.

--- Consider this piece by Jeff Goodman from last summer that ranked the top coaches by age group, the under-40 crowd included. He listed his top young coaches as Butler's Brad Stevens, Painter, Marquette's Buzz Williams, Smart and Baylor Scott Drew.

While not much happened to dissuade that top five this year outside of a down year for the Bulldogs -- but Stevens and his back-to-back trips to the championship game aren't going anywhere, ever. Marquette reached the Sweet 16 with the Big East Player of the Year, Shaka served up another first-round upset and nearly moved on to the Sweet 16 as an 11-seed. All Drew did was take Baylor to within a game of the Final Four.

After this season of a double-bye and runner-up in the Big East tournament (one that sent four teams to the Sweet 16 and two to the Elite 8, by the way) and two wins in The Dance and Cronin must be a part of that conversation now, too.

There's little doubt he's among the top young coaches in the game. Take into consideration how short the the list of active coaches under 40 who even own one NCAA tournament win:

Chris Mooney, Richmond
Buzz Williams, Marquette
Chris Lowery, Southern Illinois
Steve Prohm, Murray State
Brad Stevens, Butler
Shaka Smart, VCU

Most of the UC fans who were critical of Cronin through the rebuilding years have either jumped back on the bandwagon or ditched the sport altogether. Anyone left still taking jabs at Mick probably wouldn't be happy even if Coach K and Roy Williams showed up tomorrow deciding to joint-coach the Bearcats.

A deeper look at where other programs succeed and fail is with a great coach/recruiter. Just look at tonight's championship game between John Calipari and Bill Self, two of the great coach/recruiters in the sport.

Clearly, when looking at the results and the state of the program, UC owns as bright a future in that category as any team in the country. And by all indications, it isn't going anywhere.

--- Spring practice continued with a family day for UC faculty and staff to take in practice and interact with the team for a day. Cool way to say thank you to everyone that works behind the scenes. Scott Springer talked to Butch Jones about the event and John Jancek -- father of four with youngest son Brady joining -- spoke with Tommy G.

--- Remember, the Bearcat Bowl
will be April 14. That afternoon a youth mini-camp will be held on the field there are UC. Here's all the details on the events surrounding the spring game.

--- The team resumes spring practice Tuesday. I'll be out there and pick up a few stories for this week and any other relevant info that comes to light.

--- Heard it here first: UK 72, Kansas 66.

Now, randomness...

--- I despise people promoting fake news stories on April Fools Day. Call me a sourpuss, but I think it's bad journalism to ever purposely "report" fake news -- even in a joking form. Plus, how often is that actually funny? Yes, the answer is never.

And the runaway winner in this case was the Penn State student newspaper that prematurely reported Joe Paterno's death apparently thinking it should remind everyone of their massive foul-up and report their editor who allowed the slip was dead. Yikes. Bad call from every angle.

--- Speaking of bad journalism, HBO is premiering a series on the inner-workings of 24-hour news networks.

--- Bigger Neanderthals: UK students or hockey players?

--- In a shocking development, a Mega Millions winner is trying to keep all of the money instead of distributing among the 15 McDonald's co-workers in she was in a pool with. I assume True Hollywood Story is already on the scene shooting footage.

--- I am down with bands that cover Hall & Oates. I'm definitely down with bands that do so while driving their tour bus. Here's The Gramblers:

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