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Coach Candidate: A Veteran of the Trade, Ed Cooley Could Bring Back the ‘Al Skinner Days’ to The Heights

Let’s Have Some Fun Dreaming About this One

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

With every change of the guard and a new coach is to be named, there are always a few extra names that alums and fans of the team in question love to throw on their wish lists. The names and suggestions of these coaches are often a tad bit out of a reach and seemingly out of the question. However, if you close your eyes, and dream really big, you might just be able to convince yourself that coaches like Ed Cooley could be the next big hire for the Maroon and Gold. Let’s dream a little, shall we?

Ed Cooley has been the head coach for the Providence Friars since 2011 and has certainly worked in turning that program around making it one of the best teams of the Big East and a consistent contender for the national spotlight come every March. Under Cooley, the Friars have made it to the NCAA tournament from 2014-2018 making it as far as the second round in 2016. From a coaching record’s standpoint, Cooley is quite a big upgrade from the mess that Donahue and Christian left behind. He boasts a 284-202 (.584) winning record as a head coach and had the Friars win their first Big East title in 20 years in 2014. Not only that, aside from his first year as head coach of the Friars, he has led Providence to winning record since his hiring. Given this type of success, it is hard to imagine Cooley walking away from it all. Not unless he gets a taste of pure nostalgia of the ‘Al Skinner Days’, that is.

Why he would be interested:

There are few reasons as to why Cooley would pack his suitcases and leave Providence. Hell, when he signed contract extension through 2021 in 2013, he said in an interview with the Providence Journal “I truly want this to be the only coaching job I ever have,” said Cooley, who grew up in Providence and played high school basketball at Central High. “I’m really excited about it,” Cooley said of his new deal. “I keep saying that this is the only place I ever want to coach - and that’s real.”

While this does sound like his position is set in stone, there could be a slight interest on Cooley’s part to take his talents back up I-95 to help with a struggling Boston College program. He helped nurture the Eagles into a top class basketball program as an Assistant under Al Skinner in what many Alum’s would call the “glory days” of the program. Who is to say he doesn’t have some drive to take the keys and drive the program back to success again?

Oh, and money. Yeah, money also can be interesting when there is enough of it being offered. Right now, according to a quick Google search, Cooley has made, on average $2.45 Million per year at providence. BC would have to structure their contract in such a way to satisfy that number for Cooley as that is almost double to what they were paying Christian.

Why it could work:

I am going to keep running with the nostalgia example here. Cooley clearly had some of the best days of his coaching career on the Heights. However, I understand the desire to up and leave to go off to his own head coaching careers at Fairfield and Providence. He had been the Robin to Skinner’s Batman for so many years both at URI and BC that he wanted to prove that he-to could excel as a head coach. For now the past 15 years as a head coach, he has proven that he has capable of turning programs around and putting them on the map. He is a rebuilder in nature.

So why not help in rebuild BC, but this time as their head coach? There are already ties formed between Cooley and BC that would make the transition smooth enough.

Why it could flop:

Every reason that I mentioned above. Current success rate, money, comfortability and that he gets to coach in the city he grew up in. It is evident that Cooley has been fighting an uphill battle to make himself one of the most well-known coaches in basketball. His time at BC under Skinner was used as a stepping stone to get him to some place greater and have something successful on his resume. While I am sure he has fond memories of the Heights and the players that he coached during his time there, he clearly has found a new home in Providence.

The only lingering question is that his contract is up. Yet, since his extension in 2013, Cooley has only continued on an upward trend with the Friars that it would be surprising to see the school and Cooley part ways.

How likely is this hire?

Close your eyes hard enough and you might just start to be able to convince yourself it will happen by sheer grace and Cooley’s longing to the old days.