Georgetown coaching candidates: Rick Pitino, Mike Brey among possible targets to replace Patrick Ewing

Georgetown is a program in crisis. He’s never had a less reputable position in college basketball than right now, after a disastrous six-year run under his most famous former basketball player, Patrick Ewing, who was dismissed Thursday after six seasons at the head of the Hoyas.

With the page finally turned, Georgetown will find itself in a position it hasn’t seen in some time: receiving positive attention and curiosity. Despite all the shortcomings of the basketball team over the past decade, it remains a very attractive job, underpinned by its history and greater cultural significance in the sport. This was built by Naismith Hall of Famer John Thompson Jr.

But Thompson’s connection in the head coaching seat ends in 2023 – for the first time in five decades. Georgetown can now fill that position with someone who has no connection to the Georgetown basketball family, but specifically to the Thompson tree. It seems to be for the best.

With that in mind, here are six candidates the school should, and some of whom no doubt will, seek to interview for the position created by Ewing’s firing.

Rick Pitino, Iona Head Coach

The biggest and most obvious name tied to this opening, as it has been for months and months. With no sanctions handed down to him in the Louisville IRP case last fall, Pitino is more hireable and marketable than he has been in a decade. He will be courted by several schools, and I expect Pitino to take on a bigger role and leave Iona in the coming weeks. It’s unclear if Georgetown has Pitino at the top of its roster, but what is clear is that there would be no brighter hire than the man who coached two national title teams and, like Thompson, is in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. He has a 707-289 record as a college coach, a .710 winning percentage.

Micah Shrewsberry, Penn State head coach

Shrewsberry has a promising future in college hoops. His reputation is huge, and he’s in a great position right now. He has Penn State on the rise, and so more prestigious programs will inevitably come knocking on his door. If he made it to the stadium with Georgetown where he got an offer, he’s done for the Hilltop. That said, he’s 33-29 in two seasons in one of the toughest positions in the Big Ten.

Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley

The buzz around the plausibility that Cooley (334-220 for his career) would leave the hometown program has grown in recent weeks, but we’ll see. Cooley, he claims to be the greatest coach in Providence history. Cooley made Providence an almost annual NCAA Tournament team and did things this school had never done before, like making the NCAA Tournament in five straight years. Would he leave, only to stay in the Great East? That’s the big question. Georgetown, for many reasons, would be a place where Cooley could continue to thrive as he coached into his 50s.

Jeff Capel, Pitt’s head coach

Capel is in his 14th year in charge of a program, the last five with the Panthers. He’s Pitt on the bubble, but most likely on his way to the NCAA for the first time since 2016. Capel (247-190 career) was a good coach at VCU in the 2000s, but that was admittedly a different era and on a different level and not exactly right in the heart of DC Still, hard to fathom he wouldn’t be tempted by the interest, if Georgetown had interest. And a pivot in the Big East would reset his coaching clock; Capel cooled off in a scorching season finishing fifth in the ACC and taking that team to NCAA Tournament caliber.

Mike Brey, former Notre Dame coach

Brey was a finalist six years ago, before Ewing got the nod. He’s also a coaching free agent, and Brey said he plans to coach again. The 63-year-old has DC roots and, like Cooley and Pitino, has the media savvy to take on this job and infuse it with the energy and positive attitude Georgetown needs right now. But Brey (career best 582-332) might be a few years too late to actually get that offer. If I’m Georgetown, I always schedule an interview. I have to cover all the bases.

Boynton, 41, is trying to guide the Cowboys to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years; the other year was a lost cause because OSU was the subject of a controversial postseason ban by the NCAA. Boynton is 105-87 in his career, but his biggest selling point of all the candidates listed here: he’s had huge recruiting wins and he’s the youngest of the bunch. Some might say the Hoyas need a coach who can step in and revitalize things – and do it with a youthful approach.

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