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Xavier’s only undefeated coach ever is headed to Georgia State

Coach Jonas Hayes earned a shot at running his own program and, unfortunately for Xavier, he’s taking it.

NCAA Basketball: NIT Final-Xavier vs Texas A&M Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The problem with having incredible assistant coaches is that other places want them to turn into incredible head coaches. Jonas Hayes had a reputation as a great recruiter and game planner when he came to Xavier. He more than delivered on the first part in his time at Xavier landing, amongst others, Colby Jones, Dwon Odom, and Elijah Tucker.

The question of how good a head coach Hayes could be was answered this March. Xavier and Travis Steele mutually parted ways in circumstances that were essentially the firing of a coach that Xavier’s higher ups had finally decided was not up to the task of restoring the Musketeers to the top tier of the Big East.

That happened after Xavier had won their first NIT game. Jonas Hayes walked into a situation where he was taking over a team that had unquestionably underachieved playing in a tournament they gave every indication of not wanting to be in. Hayes almost immediately turned things around with a combination of food analogies, a singsong “believe” chant, and no small amount of tactical nous that opened up Xavier’s opponents. More importantly, he made basketball at Xavier look fun again.

That run ended with Hayes 4-0 as a head coach and Xavier one of two teams in the nation that ended their season with a win. It was no small wonder that teams came calling, especially those from his home state of Georgia. Hayes will take over for Rob Lanier (now at SMU) at a Georgia State team that finished 150th in the KenPom and briefly gave Gonzaga a run in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

So Jonas Hayes has moved on. He leaves Xavier as an all-conquering hero, the one coach who has never lost a game for the Musketeers. Hayes gave Xavier Nation some great times in the brief two weeks he was in charge, hopefully he can give Georgia State many good years.