Sidelines with John Clay

Reaction to Louisville basketball hiring Chris Mack as coach

University of Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra, left, shakes hands with Chris Mack after Mack was introduced as Louisville’s new head basketball coach during an NCAA college basketball press conference on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Louisville, Ky.
University of Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra, left, shakes hands with Chris Mack after Mack was introduced as Louisville’s new head basketball coach during an NCAA college basketball press conference on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. Associated Press

In addition to my column, a sample of reaction to Louisville hiring Chris Mack as its new head men’s basketball coach on Wednesday:

Louisville welcomed its new coach, reports Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal. “Mack comes to Louisville from Xavier, where his teams won 215 games in nine seasons, reaching three Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight. Mack was the 2016 U.S. Basketball Writers Association coach of the year and has won Atlantic 10 and Big East coach of the year honors. His Musketeers won two regular-season A-10 titles and the regular-season Big East crown this past campaign, earning the first No. 1 seed in program history.”

For a Louisville program under a cloud, Mack’s arrival brings clarity, writes Eric Crawford of WDRB. “All I know is this. When I arrived at the KFC Yum! Center for Chris Mack’s introduction as coach on Wednesday afternoon, the Ohio River was covered in a thick fog. You could just barely see the banks in Indiana as the Second Street Bridge disappeared into it. By the time Mack finished talking, the fog had lifted and river was clear.”

Former Evansville coach Jim Crews remembers the Chris Mack he recruited to college, reports Rick Bozich of WDRB. Mack transferred from Evansville back home to Xavier to play for Pete Gillen. Why? “Probably because he was sick of me,” Crews said with a laugh. “I really don’t remember.”

Mack said Louisville will be his last stop, reports Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal. “Except for some kind words about Kentucky coach John Calipari, Mack hit most of the notes necessary to start reuniting a fractured fan base, and he artfully dropped a passing reference to New Albany, Ind., site of his wedding reception and, coincidentally, home of the coveted recruit Romeo Langford.”

Fallout and response to Chris Mack leaving Xavier, from Patrick Brennan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Athletic Director Greg Christopher appears poised to tackle the challenges that await. Christopher discussed the hiring process before him, obstacles he’ll face along the way – philosophical, organizational and otherwise – and a wide array of other topics related to Mack’s departure during a Tuesday evening press conference at Cintas Center, Xavier’s on-campus home arena.”

Chris Mack and Louisville are taking a big risk with each other, says Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports. “Cliff divers don’t plummet head-first into unknown waters. They know how deep it is, where the rocks are, what the risk is. If Chris Mack were a cliff diver, he’d be one of the most daring of all-time.”

Mack says he has big shoes to fill, reports Gary Graves of the Associated Press. “I know these past few months have been unbelievably difficult,” said Mack, who received a seven-year contract. “They say the darkest clouds, you miss it, the brightest lightning bolt. That lightning bolt is coming.”

Christi Mack returns to her Louisville roots, reports Dennis Ting of WHAS. “The gym at Holy Cross may have been empty for a short while Wednesday afternoon, the court taking a break from the sounds of dribbling and sneakers squeaking that normally fill the walls, like they have for decades. On the wall, photos of those who've made their mark on the Holy Cross hardwood, among them, Christi Hester.”

Chris Mack won’t just be Xavier’s loss, writes Mo Egger for The Athletic. “Nearly six years ago, I was sitting in Great American Ballpark, watching the Reds with the person in charge of organizing some of their social media initiatives. Her assignment was to organize a ‘tweetup,’ where people who were active on Twitter would attend a game, hang out together, and engage in actual eye-to-eye, in-person conversation.”

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