By the end of this season, DePaul will be fully in the process of finding a new coach to replace pesky interim hire Tracy Webster and his predecessor, Jerry Wainwright. Most DePaul fans are probably hoping for someone established but with a bright future, someone who'd want to spend the prime of his life coaching high-end Big East basketball in the Midwest's greatest city. (And yes, I live in Chicago and yes, I'm totally biased, but what Midwestern city is better? Minneapolis? Madison? Don't even give me Indy. Cincinnati? Pshh.)
In other words, they'll be looking for someone like Craig Robinson, a good coach who has yet to turn around Oregon State, and who might be interested in a return to Chicago. Or maybe someone like Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, who already has recruiting roots in the city. How about this name: Mark Aguirre. Bet you hadn't thought of him, had you? Well, that's why Aguirre is here to remind you:
"DePaul interests me period," Aguirre said. "I'm a very close friend of everybody up there. I like DePaul. If it was right and we thought the situation (was) right, you're doggone right I would do that. I would absolutely. I would do that."
"I want to get back to, committed to trying to get the Chicago kids to understand what an incredible city Chicago is to play in," he said. "I don't know of any place I've ever seen that I went during my career that had fans that incredible. We were like a pro team in college. It was crazy. And Chicago is big enough to support that 10 times over. What do you want as a kid? What kind of stage do you want to play on?"
Aguirre sounds just a little bit delusional about the way DePaul basketball works, but in some ways he's right. A good DePaul team with better facilities -- a gym closer to the campus' upscale Lincoln Park neighborhood -- would certainly attract more attention from the locals, who tend to be Big Ten wanderers. Still, take it from a resident and a college hoops fan: If the Demons were good, I'd go see them play, especially when the Big East heavyweights came to town. They'll never be on the Chicago Bulls' level, because this isn't the 1970s anymore. But they'd be a ticket.
In any case, this is the recruiting pitch any incumbent DePaul coach has to make if he wants to have any chance of competing in the Big East. Aguirre hits all the right notes, and he has an extra layer of "I know it's possible" credibility thanks to his story -- he was a renowned Chicago high school player before launching DePaul into the college hoops stratosphere in the late 70s. He's not entirely inexperienced, either; he's currently a Knicks assistant under Mike D'Antoni and has been an assistant in Indianapolis and a director of player development for the Dallas Mavericks. And he wants the job. He really, really wants it.
You know what? I think I just talked myself into Mark Aguirre. I did not see that one coming.