Chris Mack is a good coach. He took over the Xavier program as it was growing larger and larger and took it to the next level. Mack now holds the most wins in Xavier history (215). Xavier has had some great coaches over the past few decades with Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser, Thad Matta and Sean Miller.
Chris Mack was loved by Xavier fans. He grew up in Cincinnati, went to St X (gross), played for Xavier and then coached here. He is a true Cincinnatian and lives and dies with the Bengals/Reds seasons. He also loved the Crosstown Shootout and rivalry with Mick Cronin and UC. Many X fans believed Chris Mack was going to be the long-term coach that did not leave like all of the others because of his ties. Just last year Mack was rumored to have turned down an interview/offer from OSU and IU to stay at Xavier.
Did Mack make the right decision to leave X and take the job at the University of Louisville? Is Xavier going to benefit from this move like they have from all of the other coaches leaving?
Xavier backdoored their way to a Big East title this year. This is also part of the problem. Chris Mack is a good coach. He’s not a great coach. Jay Wright outclassed and outcoached him year in and year out and the only reason X won the Big East this year was because other teams took care of the Villanova problem that Chris Mack never could get past.
I believe Chris Mack didn’t heavily consider Indiana or Ohio State last year because he loves Xavier and he had a hell of a team returning. Xavier had 4 seniors this year and a big recruiting class coming in. They were a legit National Champion contender. They made an unexpected deep run last year and were going to be a much better team in 2018. They ended up as a #1 seed for the first time in school history. A bad game by their star player as well as some really bad calls cost them what looked like a secured victory in the 2nd round. Their season ended very prematurely. The roster is not nearly as strong next year so if there was a time to leave it is now.
Chris Mack is a good coach but good does not cut it in the ACC. I’m not sure he can carry Louisville to where their fans expect. Mack struggled to get on par with Jay Wright. There are a bunch of teams and coaches as good or better than Villanova and Jay Wright. The ACC is the Hall of Fame gauntlet of coaches. The ability to recruit 5 star players will be easier at Louisville than Xavier but he now has to go against Duke, UNC, UVA and the big brother school in the state UK. He is not likely to win many of these battles and will have to be a notch below his competitors. The only hope this gives is his Xavier teams seemed to be more successful when expectations were low and they would outperform and make deep runs. The more expectations the more his teams seemed to fall short. I’m not sure Louisville was the right job for him to take but when someone is flaunting $28M in your face it is hard to turn down. Xavier coaches have had some success when leaving but none of them have ever reached the expectations schools had when hiring them away from Xavier. I believe Chris Mack’s fate will be the same and he did himself no favors by choosing the Louisville job.
Every time a Xavier coach leaves the fan base thinks the sky is falling. Each hire in the past 2.5 decades has improved the basketball program. I believe there are 2 HC options that will be able to continue that for Xavier. Travis Steele (assistant at X now) and Pat Kelsey. Kelsey is a former Elder & Xavier grad. He coached under Skip (legend) and has done an impressive job at Winthrop. Travis Steele is their lead recruiter and is loved by former and current players. Today on twitter X players from past and present were raving about him deserving the job. He has impressed me in his limited exposure. If players are saying a big part of the reason they chose Xavier was Steele then I think it is a no brainer to hire him. You want a coach that the players love and are excited to play under.
Chris Mack is a good coach. Chris Mack is gone. And in Chris Mack fashion…”Next Man Up”