April 18, 2005
Coaches dream of openings like the head-coaching job at DePaul.
Basketball is No. 1 at DePaul, and the coach will get his due if he performs well. They will treat him like royalty there if he's successful.
Athletic director Jean Ponsetto certainly knows what it takes to win. Her husband, a former Blue Demon who teamed with Dave Corzine, is now an outstanding prosecutor in the state of Illinois. He was as tough as they came during the Ray Meyer era.
For DePaul, there is the added attraction of being a member of the Big East beginning next season. Think about the visibility and exposure of playing in a big market like Chicago. Visits to elite programs like Syracuse and Connecticut, trips to New York City for the conference tournament. How about battles against Notre Dame, Louisville, Marquette and Cincinnati! There are plenty of selling points.
There will be no shortage of candidates, and coaches from all over will come after this job big-time. Now the question is, will Ponsetto go for a big superstar who will create buzz in the community? I can hear it now, with my ESPN buddy Digger Phelps having his name in the mix. Digger loves TV and his "unbeaten record" as an analyst, but if he were a little bit younger, the city of Chicago would really excite him!
Imagine if he were coaching against Notre Dame. Digger did a phenomenal job with the Irish, always finding a magical way to come up with the big W. But rest assured, Digger will not be coaching DePaul.
Names like Rick Majerus, another member of the ESPN family, will pop up. If he wants to coach, he would be a good choice. If he wants that job, he would be No. 1 on my list. He can flat-out coach, and he gets his concepts across as a teacher and motivator. Majerus would be a natural.
The question is, after seeing what happened at USC, when he accepted he job but then decided to go back to television, is he ready to return to the recruiting scene? Still, if I were Ponsetto, Majerus would be the first guy I'd call.
Dayton's Brian Gregory was a finalist the last time the job opened. His name has surfaced already; Dayton is in the Atlantic 10, while DePaul is in the Big East. Seems tempting, though Gregory has said he isn't interested in the Blue Demons' job. We will have to wait and see if he changes his mind if offered the DePaul vacancy. Gregory has love and passion for Dayton basketball, and he has an outstanding returning nucleus.
Stay tuned, as this is interesting. The ball is in Ponsetto's court right now. She could go for the big superstar like Majerus or be poised and patient, opting for a younger rising star. The coaching world turns in the Windy City, as Dave Leitao has moved on to the tough ACC as Virginia's head coach.
Leitao will have a new arena as a recruiting tool. He also has impressed school president John Casteen, who knew the new coach when the two were at Connecticut. Trouble is, the Cavaliers have to face the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest!
The DePaul job search will be fascinating and worth keeping an eye on.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.