Georgetown coaching candidates: Could Rick Pitino or Kevin Keatts replace Patrick Ewing?

Georgetown, of course, has been indebted to its own history. It’s a big story. It is a revolutionary story. It’s a story of helping define men’s college basketball for a very long time. We must not forget this story.

He must give priority to the future. It necessarily means a reboot, a slate wiped and then wiped again, with no feelings involved. Patrick Ewing is expected to be the last physical link to John Thompson II and president of Georgetown’s men’s hoop coach, following his dismissal on Thursday. Change is long overdue, but it is due nonetheless.

It’s a tricky thing. It might even require a little institutional courage. But the plummeting results on the pitch should make it a pretty easy sell for athletic director Lee Reed and the rest of the school’s decision makers. After all, Big John would want Georgetown to win. And win big. The only way to achieve this is to lucidly search for something new.

Job evaluation

Georgetown basketball has championship potential. The latest results don’t change that. It is sport at the heart of the school’s sporting identity. Top priority. Georgetown reported north of $14 million in men’s basketball spending in 2019-20, according to U.S. Department of Education figures. That’s not a no-spend figure in the same spending stratosphere as Kentucky…but it’s $2 million more than North Carolina spent in the same period. The urge is there.

The local recruiting turf is teeming with talent, mitigating the brand devaluation that has been happening lately; there are many good players who know Georgetown men’s basketball. And if the program can create some momentum, there is at least the possibility that it can renew its visibility at the national level. Which means, in theory, a coach can sue whoever they want. It’s the ideal scenario, yes, and a long way from where Georgetown is now. But it is plausible.


Patrick Ewing won’t say. Neither does Georgetown. But it feels like the end

The benefits are real. How connected and competent the leadership is – well, that’s something every candidate will need to assess. But if Reed is leading the charge on the rental and has the leeway to make a proper restart, then the lineup should work on its own. Anyone he hires will understand that this is a partnership.

It’s a very, very big hole that Georgetown has dug itself. That’s no small problem in a Big East that continues to add high-quality coaches. But he has the means to get out of it.

Kevin Keatts has had a stellar season at NC State. (Rich Barnes / USA Today)

Call list

(in alphabetical order)

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts. It would be the two sides striking at the right time, with Keatts earning his way out of the hot seat in Raleigh and Georgetown capitalizing on a coach who just presided over a 12-game season-over-season improvement. The school should be willing to spend well over $3 million a year to make this happen.

Virginia Tech associate head coach Mike Jones. Want to attempt to turn the DMV talent pool into a raging river? Hire the guy who spent nearly two decades at DeMatha Catholic High School. Add years on the same bench as Mike Young, and Georgetown can be sure Jones is ready. He’s also likely cheaper than some of the other high-profile contenders, if the Ewing takeover has thinned the coffers.

Matt Langel, head coach of Colgate. It would be quite an aggressive swing and deflection, but not without merit. It’ll be four straight NCAA Tournament appearances for Colgate — in the years the tournament has actually been played — and that’s about as fresh as you can imagine. Additionally, Langel has beaten Syracuse two years in a row. It must still count for something in Georgetown.

Rick Pitino, head coach of Iona. There’s no doubt that Pitino wants one more chance in a big job. There is no doubt that he would consider Georgetown a big job. Whether Georgetown sees it as an adjustment, on many levels, is another thing. But the victories would follow. They always do.

Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry. The Nittany Lions have been a bit mercurial in Shrewsberry’s sophomore year, but they might just reach the NCAA Tournament regardless. He has the player development mindset that would suit the place well. Would he leave a job in the Big Ten for Georgetown? One would think, given the relative ceilings of the two programs, that it would start This Big Ten job for Georgetown.

Texas interim head coach Rodney Terry. He won Big 12 Coach of the Year honors, but it’s still unclear if he’ll get the permanent job. There’s a lot of talk about Chris Del Conte thinking bigger. But a defensive coach obsessed with recruiting? It could play here.

The rental is…

Do it, Georgetown. Shake the world. Hire Rick Pitino.

(Top photo by Rick Pitino: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

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