I was reading about college basketball - as I am wont to do - when I stumbled across this article. You can click through if you'd like, but it's basically an inspection of the age at hire of coaches being brought in by high-major programs. It's in the context of John Beilein's sudden availability, but it casts in context what Xavier has in Travis Steele.
The average age for new high-major hires for the 2019 season was 46. It hasn't been below 45 - 44.92 if you're not into rounding - for the entire decade. The last time it was below 43, the vast bulk of current college basketball players weren't even in preschool.
Travis Steele, in case you forgot, turned 38 this season.
It's also worth noting that most of the guys being hired at an average of eight years older than Steele is right now either have no experience head coaching in college or no experience in the program they're coming on to run. Some of them, like Penny Hardaway, have that rare combination of no experience as a college head coach and no experience in the program.
Again, that's what they are at 46. By the time Steele reaches that age, he'll have basically two decades of experience in the Xavier program, including 10 years as the head coach.
Unless, of course, the Muskies cut bait on him. There have been times during the past couple of seasons during which the more reactive elements of the fan base have called for Steele's job to be in jeopardy. In my estimation, which admittedly isn't worth a whole lot, that would be a mistake.
Of course, it's easy to say that with Xavier once again getting hot at the right part of the season, but even if they weren't, it's clear that Steele has the potential to be something special as a coach. He is at an age at which most coaches are still cutting their teeth at lower levels, and he has already proven himself as a recruiter in a high-major conference and shown at least some acumen as the head man in games. Just as importantly, he's showing the ability to make adjustments based on what is (or isn't) working over the course of the season.
His predecessor, Chris Mack, stepped into the head role at Xavier the year he turned 40. After a couple of years of riding Tu Holloway like Seattle Slew, he managed to go 17-14 in the A10 in his third season as a head coach. In just his second year and in a much tougher conference, Steele has already equalled that win total.
It's almost certain there will be more rough moments as Steele grows as a coach. The fact that he is getting this experience, keeping his head above water, and continuing to recruit at a high level speaks to his immense potential as a head coach. Xavier has already paid some of the toll required for Steele's growth as a coach; there's no reason to not stick with him and reap the rewards of his development.