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Coach Candidate: Bill Coen knows New England well, could he be a rockstar recruiter at BC?

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A Boston-area head coach with old ties to BC

NCAA Basketball: Northeastern at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Bill Coen of Northeastern University is a part of former BC coach Al Skinner’s coaching tree and has been a rumored candidate for the Eagles’ head coaching job. As a former BC assistant and experienced head coach in the Boston area, he would be an exciting choice to lead Boston College’s men’s basketball program.

Bill Coen has been the head coach of the Northeastern Huskies since 2006, posting a 250-220 (.532) overall record and a 154-106 (.592) conference record in the Colonial Athletic Association. Coen has taken the Huskies to the NCAA tournament two times, in 2015 and 2019, both ending in first round losses. Coen has also won his conference 3 times since 2012 and has posted a winning record in 6 of his last 7 seasons. Before coaching at Northeastern, Coen was an assistant to Al Skinner at Boston College from 1997-2006, as well as an assistant to Skinner at Rhode Island for 8 seasons prior to that.

Why he’d be interested:

Boston College is in an area that Coen is already comfortable recruiting for, and its status as a program in the ACC (even if it’s a struggling one) is a clear step-up from Northeastern. Not to mention that Coen has hit a bit of a brick wall at NU, unable to really push past 23 wins and an NCAA opening round loss. BC would give him a much greater opportunity to expand his players’ talent pool and the end-of-season result could be much more successful for him in the long run.

Why it could work:

Coen knows the New England recruiting landscape. He took over a very new and rocky Northeastern program in 2006 and turned them into an annual conference contender through his talent evaluation and culture-building. While previous head coach Jim Christian had some success recruiting states like North Carolina, the Northeast had always been a struggle for the Boston College program when it really should not have been. Bringing in a coach like Coen could change the culture at BC and bring a lot of the good New England recruits to Chestnut Hill. That would end up creating a more sustainable recruiting model in the process.

Why it could flop:

Northeastern does not play in a very tough conference, yet Coen’s teams still post 9+ conference losses in most years. Consistency in his program has been a real issue, too, as his teams have dropped to 6th in conference standings in three of the last six years. Perhaps more resources at BC and a bigger brand name in the area could help combat some of those issues. But that inconsistency does send up a red flag that we could potentially be looking at a coach who would not be able to handle the spotlight of bigger program.

How likely is this hire?

I’d say it’s pretty unlikely but not impossible. Not only is Coen one of the weaker candidates for this position, but his history with the school may prevent the move as well. As a BC assistant for 10 years under Al Skinner, Coach Coen has got to have some conflicted feelings about Boston College. Leadership at Boston College has changed since Skinner’s questionable firing. Based on the Jim Christian and Steve Addazio eras, the Athletic department has been much more willing to hold onto struggling coaches in major sports. But the bad blood may still persist and only Coach Coen really knows if it’s enough to turn down the BC job. I only see Coen getting this job if BC is heavily prioritizing the ability to recruit locally and Coen is able to put this slightly rocky past behind him.