The end of the Chris Mack era is upon us in what feels like the blink of an eye - and Xavier basketball seems to be, at least momentarily, at a standstill. This is an uncomfortable (although not unchartered territory - CC: Miller 09 and Matta 04) place to be as a Xavier fan considering the momentum that was undeniably built in the last nine seasons Mack was at the helm; but really gang, it’s been even longer than that. The program has without a doubt been on a steady, upward and progressive climb for the last 30 or so years, dating all the way back to Gillen in 1985. This point should both ease, and unfortunately, to some degree, worry us as Xavier fans.
Let’s start with feelings of ease. That’s what we all need during this sensitive time, right? The fact that our last 5 coaches are named Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser, Thad Matta, Sean Miller, and Chris Mack, should make you feel good. It should ease the pain of Mack leaving at least a little, and leave you feeling optimistic that Xavier can and will hire another capable head coach to continue moving this program forward - ideally without any serious hiccups. These 5 coaches leave behind a significant history and tradition of winning that we have come to expect for our favorite team (let me tell you, this seems like a luxury in the college basketball climate right now) - and the next guy up has always delivered. Just looking at that line-up of coaches should not only ease your mind, but get you excited for what’s next for Xavier basketball. Just to point out: if we had always believed being A-10 Conference Champions was our ceiling, we would never be where we are now. So, the sky’s the limit - or as MJ would say “the ceiling is the roof”.
That being said, worry is a feeling that might be creeping into your mind as well. Certainly it has some place in my emotions over the last 24 hours. Maybe, like me, you’re worried that there couldn’t possibly be as seamless of a transition for the new guy (whomever he may be) as there has seemed to be for our new head coaches in the past. Maybe you’re worried that we will lose some more of the players/recruits that we were already excited about (bye Evan Boudreaux). Maybe you’re worried that you won’t connect to a coach as much as you did with Mack. That’s how I felt about Sean Miller and everything turned out okay - remember? Maybe you just can’t possibly fathom how another guy is going to pick up where the winningest coach in Xavier history left off. Maybe, and probably likely for most fans, you just want to pause and be sad about this for the time being. For those of you wallowing in the sorrow of any of these maybes: go back and reread.
I have to believe that it really is going to be okay, even though it might not feel like it right this second. If history is any indication, it will be, and all of this will simply be a blip on the radar when our team and the program continues to excel. It’s time to adopt that “next guy up” mentality, because let’s face it, we really don’t have a better option. Onwards and upwards, Muskie fans.