After the season ended last year, we did a multi-week series profiling who Syracuse’s next coach could be. It started with current assistants Adrian Autry and Gerry McNamara, moved to Mike Hopkins, and even had a little splash of Rick Pitino. But, currently, none of those options seem to be looking like the best to get the Syracuse program back to relevance.
So, let’s look at two guys who if John Wildhack decides to hire from outside the family, there shouldn’t be an uproar, it should be celebrated.
Colgate Head Coach Matt Langel
At just 45 years old, Langel is someone who if he got the job could coach for multiple decades, if he was successful and chose to. A Penn graduate, Langel was an assistant coach for the Quakers for a couple of seasons, then roamed the Temple bench for a good amount of time before Colgate hired him as head coach in 2011, where he’s been ever since.
In the last two seasons, the Raiders have put a beating on the Orange, and Langel is on track to take Cplgate to the NCAA Tournament for what would have been the fifth straight year if the 2020 tournament wasn’t canceled. He owns the Patriot League. Now, the concern that comes with that is Langel has never coached outside of mid-major college basketball and is being thrown into a major conference team and program with high expectations. It’s always hard to follow “the guy”. Hubert Davis and Kyle Neptune have dealt with that plenty this year.
But, Langel’s style is so in tune with the current nature of college basketball, and he’s spent so much time in Upstate New York that he should be fine making the move up from Hamilton to Syracuse, and if Wildhack wants to look outside, he shouldn’t look further than Langel.
G-League Ignite Head Coach Jason Hart
When we did the coaching candidate series last spring, Hart was on the list of “under the radar candidates” and he should be firmly in the discussion if John Wildhack looks outside of the current staff. After a great career playing for Syracuse from 1996-2000 and a 10-year NBA career, Hart has the collegiate and professional pedigree to succeed.
Plus, as an assistant coach on the west coast (where he’s from) for a decade as well, he was given the opportunity to coach young, talented players on the G-League Ignite team in 2021. These are valuable connections and relationships Hart has made, and the people that come through the Ignite team have been high-level draft picks in the NBA, thanks in part to Hart getting them to commit to playing for the team.
The playing and coaching experience speaks for itself, but it’s also about the narrative when it comes to Syracuse, and Hart would fit the narrative as a former player. Yes, he has not been an assistant for Boeheim like others, but he’s had arguably more success than any of the current or former Boeheim assistants that also played for him.
McNamara and Autry will get diligent consideration for the head coaching job, but maybe the only way for Syracuse to wipe this slate clean and start a new era is from outside of the current staff, and Langel and Hart should be the top two candidates for that.