The Floyd Street Tribune: On the conflicting reports on Louisville's coaching search
Inside: Is Kenny Payne a "done deal"? Or has Louisville's coaching search not quite ramped up yet? We try to parse what has been yet another smoke-filled week.
Thanks for reading The Floyd Street Tribune! Catch up on our coaching search coverage the past few weeks with all our stories in one place. Last week’s newsletter focused on the internal and external politics surrounding the Louisville coaching search.
A hearty welcome to all of our new subscribers. For the uninitiated, this newsletter, which is exclusively about Louisville men’s basketball, hits your email inbox every Thursday morning at 5 a.m., with rare exceptions. I also plan to have bonus newsletters — better known as TFST Extra — on other weekdays as needed as things ramp up over the next few weeks
Let’s get to this week’s topic: What’s actually happening in Louisville’s coaching search?
One Big Question: What’s going on?
We arrive at the writing of this week’s newsletter late Wednesday evening with two competing, very different storylines in my world, and I’m trying to parse them:
* On the one hand, we have several Louisville basketball insiders, both on Twitter and on message boards, saying in varying ways that the university is either close to, or already has agreed to, a deal with New York Knicks assistant and former Louisville standout Kenny Payne to be the next coach at Louisville.
What’s more, two university sources told me last week about an athletics department advisory to mark March 11 on their calendars for an event related to the men’s basketball program. That is the Friday of the ACC Tournament, when the semifinals will be played. With all due respect to the current team, I don’t think many people believe they’ll still be playing next Friday. (More on this nugget below.)
* On the other hand, we have my very best industry sources — people who have worked in the basketball world for years and years and know just about everyone on the college level — saying interim Louisville AD Josh Heird, who they have known for a while, would have to be deliberately misleading and lying to them if a hire has already been made because he is still calling around about coaches. Heird has spent the past five weeks sounding out a number of agents and industry contacts about possible coaching candidates.
This is where Baylor coach Scott Drew came up to me — and credit to my friend Bob Valvano at ESPN Louisville for being the first to mention that name — and it’s also where names like Mick Cronin and Eric Musselman surfaced. Cronin, one source said, is the most persistent non-Payne name in agent/collegiate athletics circles. He has told people around him in the past that Louisville is his dream job. Nevertheless, the buyout for any of these coaches will be a potentially disqualifying factor in Louisville’s process.
So, what do we make of all this?