CBS continues its series of Candid Coaches columns and this one is relevant for Duke fans: “Who should replace Duke’s Coach K as the most prominent face and voice of college basketball?“
Who can and who should are two different things. We’re not sure anyone can. First, Mike Krzyzewski’s character and accomplishments have allowed him a certain level of authority. Let’s look at who the coaches point to now...
- Jay Wright (Villanova)
- Tom Izzo (Michigan State)
- John Calipari (Kentucky)
- Tony Bennett (Virginia)
- Mark Few (Gonzaga)
- Juwan Howard (Michigan)
- Mick Cronin (UCLA)
- Matt Painter (Purdue)
There are only a few real candidates here: Wright, Izzo, Bennett and Cronin.
Calipari has two deleted Final Four appearances and has left a sense of oozing slime behind him everywhere he’s been. He’s also self-serving, paranoid and passive-aggressive. Needless to say, Kentucky is the right place for him, but the face of the sport?
It deserves better.
This summer’s DWI hurt Few’s reputation. There’s no way around that. Howard is too new and Painter just hasn’t accomplished that much outside of the regular season.
That leaves Wright, Izzo, Bennett and Cronin, and of those, as much as we respect Izzo, his inability to deal with controversies at Michigan State involving a player accused of sexual assault and how MSU dealt with Larry Nassar should rule him out of being the face of the sport. We admire Izzo but not as much as we did before he mishandled those situations.
Remember a few years back when there was a brawl between Xavier and Cincinnati? He handled it much better than then-Xavier coach Chris Mack. We could see it.
As for Bennett, he is capable but he is low-key and genuinely humble. We’re not sure he would want that responsibility.
So of the guys listed, Wright might be the best candidate. He’s very impressive in every way that we’re aware of.
Still, as his reputation grew, Coach K made it a point to advocate for the game and to talk about how it needed to change. We’ve never seen Wright do that and someone will need to do those things after K has left the scene.
So perhaps the best candidate is someone not currently listed.