Coach Mark Schmidt of St. Bonaventure University is one of the names that has come up in the discussion for Boston College’s next men’s basketball head coaching hire. As a mid-major head coach for the last 2 decades and a BC alum, he would bring a much needed experienced and steady hand as Boston College looks to rebuild their program from where Steve Donahue and Jim Christian left us.
Mark Schmidt has been the head coach of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies since 2007, posting a 238-183 record (.563) overall and a 123-105 record (.539) in the Atlantic-10 conference. Schmidt has taken the Bonnies to the NCAA tournament twice during his tenure, a second-round exit in 2012 and a first round exit in 2018. He also served as head coach of Robert Morris from 2001-2007 with an 82-90 (.477) overall record. Before his coaching days, he played for Boston College from 1981-1985 under coaches Tom Davis and Gary Williams. Coach Schmidt is also an Attleboro, MA native with deep ties to the New England area.
Why he’d be interested:
First of all, Schmidt is a Boston College alum from Massachusetts, so the allure of coaching at your alma mater in your home state is always a strong one. It’s unclear exactly how much that would factor into a decision by Schmidt, but it has got to be an advantage for the Eagles.
Coach Schmidt has also reached a bit of a ceiling with the Bonnies. He took that struggling program finishing well below .500 every year in the 2000’s and turned them into a perennial contender for their conference’s title. He only achieved conference gold one time, in the 2015-16 season, but has finished top 5 every year since then. It’s not clear that there’s much more room to grow in that environment, however. The allure of a P6 program with many more resources like Boston College could be convincing. Given the state of the programs, Boston College is not a gigantic step-up from St. Bonaventure right now, but it is definitely at least a step-up in terms of resources. And Schmidt’s leash would likely be a large one that would allow him time to rebuild the program in the way that he wants.
Why it could work:
Schmidt has a proven track record of building a program back up after it was bottom-feeding for years on end. The Bonnies had gone 24-88 (.214) in the 4 years leading up to Schmidt’s hiring. By his 4th year they had a winning record for this first time in almost a decade, and by his 5th year they had made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. This ability to build sustained success, along with mounds of recruiting and coaching experience overall, is exactly the kind of candidate BC should be looking for. This rebuild is going to take some time considering where the program lies today, so a leader like Schmidt with some experience in a long, sustained rebuild would be a welcomed addition.
Why it could flop:
Coach Schmidt has only really hit a season out of the water once or twice, and his competition in the ACC would only get tougher. Pulling a struggling program out of a hole is certainly an admirable feat, but a .539 conference win% in the Atlantic-10 does not necessarily inspire a lot of confidence for a BC program trying to compete in one of college basketball’s toughest conferences. Sure BC will have more resources than St. Bonaventure, but it still significantly lags behind other ACC schools at the same time. In order to compete for NCAA tourney berths while playing a tough ACC, the Eagles will need a coach not just to meet expectations, but to exceed them. And Schmidt has mostly just had his teams hang out in the 4th-9th place range during his tenure, only reaching the Atlantic-10’s top 3 two times. Jim Christian was a promising mid-major coach as well before Boston College hired him and the P6 environment proved too daunting.
How likely is this hire?
This is one of the more likely hires of the current candidate pool. There are so many potential candidates, and with COVID who knows what anybody is thinking, but this is about as clean of a fit as you can get. Coach Schmidt is an alum that meets all of the needs that the BC administration would be looking for. But the bigger question remains on if he would be willing to leave a St. Bonaventure program that he has spent 14 years building. I think it’s a logical step-up, but he may not see it that way.