Could former Boston College basketball coach Al Skinner land at a major conference program this offseason? According to the ProJo's Kevin McNamara, the two sides are at least talking it over. So you're saying there's a chance?
Hearing Al Skinner has spoken to reps at Northwestern and may do the same at Hofstra. Former Nat'l Coach of the Year at ACC's toughest job.— Kevin McNamara (@KevinMcNamara33) March 25, 2013
The "ACC's toughest job" is of course a reference to the Boston College basketball program, which is to be expected from a writer at the Providence Journal.
Skinner had a largely successful 13 year run on the Heights, posting a 247-165 (.600) record, 66 up and 66 down in the Big East and 40 up and 40 down in the ACC for a perfectly average .500 record in conference play. He guided the Eagles to a Big East championship in 2001 and came within a bucket of winning the ACC in the Eagles' first year in the league in 2006.
The one major mark against Skinner's candidacy is that he hasn't coached at the college level since getting fired by Boston College in March of 2010. That, and questions about the Eagles recruiting efforts after Cooley (now at Providence) and Coen (now at Northeastern) left the program.
Northwestern is famous for being the only major conference program never to make the NCAA Tournament. If the Wildcats want to hire a proven coach with the sole purpose of getting NU to the Big Dance, there are far worse coaching candidates to hire than Skinner.
[For what it's worth, I think Northwestern's next coach gets them to the NCAA Tournament anyway. With Rutgers and Maryland joining the league and watering down the Big Ten's basketball product, it's hard to think that Northwestern will be shut out of the NCAAs for too much longer. I mean, if Providence and DePaul have found a way to get into the NCAA Tournament in the past, no reason to think Northwestern can't as well. The 'Cats will get in ... eventually, guided by the next head coach or whenever the tournament field expands to 96. Whichever comes first.]
By virtue of its NCAA Tournament-less streak and with sub-par facilities closer to the Missouri Valley Conference than the Big Ten -- say what you will about Conte Forum as a basketball arena, but Welsh-Ryan is closer to the Newton Campus Quonset Hut than it is Conte -- this is one of the more thankless coaching job in all of college basketball. Skinner could end up a Northwestern folk hero by getting them to the Dance for the first time before calling it quits for good.
I don't think Skinner gets either the Northwestern or Hofstra jobs, but I'm hoping that he does get back into coaching this offseason. The offseason coaching chips are just starting to fall and Skinner could be a good replacement for a mid-major program that could lose its head coach to one of the major conference programs with job openings.
Hat tip: Sippin' On Purple