This is getting exhausting. The difference between the mostly honorable way that Coach Mack is going about, most likely, leaving Xavier and the extremely dubious way that both Thad Matta and Sean Miller did it is that it leads to days of stress and strain. No simply sneaking out under cover of darkness means that fans are put through a long waiting process of simply not knowing what is going on.
Right now, here’s what definitively know: nothing. If you are looking for confirmed reports or actual fact, there’s precious little to be had. There are multiple threads that are being pulled and multiple stories that have to be followed.
What we know: Steele was a candidate for openings at both Middle Tennessee and Evansville but didn’t take either job. He definitively removed himself from consideration at Evansville. Steele is Xavier’s coach in waiting should Chris Mack leave.
What we think: Rumor has Steele turning down a job offer from MTSU on Friday. Obviously, this points to him holding out for an opening as the head coach at X. Or, if you choose to be positive, holding out for a raise as Mack’s top assistant. It’s far more likely that Steele didn’t leave because he knows a major promotion is in the offing.
What we know: Vitale says that the Louisville job has been offered to Mack and is his “if he wants it.” He also reports that Mack will be announced sometime after Monday as the new head coach of the Cardinals.
What we think: Vitale is a doddering old man about 20 years past his sell by date. If anyone has legitimate news to break, they aren’t going through him. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong, it does mean he’s not a reliable source here. No one else is reporting an offer.
What we know: We know that Mack met with Louisville at some point this weekend. That’s almost all we know about that.
What we think: It’s safe to assume that Louisville is offering Coach Mack a monstrous raise. The last salary any of us know for certain that Mack made is $1.7 million two years and two extensions ago. On the low end, Louisville will be offering more than double that. Some sources are saying UL will offer $7 million per year. Frankly, Mack would be a fool not to take that unless Xavier can come up with some serious extra money.
What we know: Late on Saturday it came out that UL had contacted UK for permission to speak with their assistant coach, Kenny Payne. There is no Rooney Rule in college basketball.
What we think: If we are positive we think that this means there is some hope that Coach Mack is returning to Xavier and Louisville is expanding their search. Payne played for Louisville and won a national title there in 1986 before playing in the NBA. He’s also been an assistant at UK since 2010 and is a renowned recruiter. If we are negative we think this is a gambit from Louisville to gain leverage on Coach Mack and force him to bring down his salary demands.
That’s essentially what we know and what we think at this point. There is so much conjecture and innuendo flying around that it is difficult to really know what is going on at all. One thing that is certain is that Florida State is playing Michigan for the chance to play Loyola in the Final Four. Xavier missed an amazing chance.