Mick Cronin is officially out of Clifton and headed to sunny Los Angeles. Cronin’s time as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats comes to a quick end as he was feeling the pressure of continuously disappointing in the postseason. While Mick built the Bearcats back up to a national power, it was time for both sides to officially move on. Cronin’s void will be large, but Mike Bohn has the opportunity to hire a name that will once again electrify a fan base yearning for more.
The most obvious candidate that would fit this description is former Bearcat Nick Van Exel. Van Exel already stated that he wanted to coach college basketball and has tossed his hat into the running, informing Bohn of his desire to be at the university. Cincinnati needs a new face to rally behind and fire up this fan base, just how Penny Hardaway has turned around Memphis with his fast paced tempo and outstanding recruiting.
While other candidates, such as John Brannen and Matt McMahon are well qualified to take over the position, they aren’t the sexiest of picks. You’re probably telling yourself “Geez, isn’t that what Luke Fickell was and look how he has turned out.” Yes, the safer pick is usually the best option, but UC stayed safe with Mick, which has left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. It’s time for change, and Bohn knows it.
Van Exel isn’t just a former player pulled out of the dark either as he has coached since 2009 when he was an assistant for Texas Southern. He’s been in the NBA as an assistant since he joined the Atlanta Hawks staff in 2010, but he was the head coach of the G-League Texas Legends for the 2015-2016 season. His experience at the college level may come into question, but his familiarity with coaching is not in doubt.
Mike Bohn has had three straight outstanding hires with Luke Fickell, Michelle Clark-Heard, and Scott Googins, and now he has the chance to make it four straight. Van Exel might not be the most highly qualified based on college coaching records, but the energy he brought to Cincinnati playing under Bob Huggins can be reignited once again. There’s only one man right for the job, and that is Nick Van Exel.