No final word on the Boston College coaching search as it gets into the interview process with a group of candidates who have emerged, but various sources familiar with the process have labeled St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt and Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins as the front runners, with Schmidt slightly in the lead.
Other coaches scheduled to be interviewed include Quinnipiac Coach Tom Moore and Celtic assistant Walter McCarty. Towson coach Pat Skerry was on the original list, but that may not happen.
Only a very closed group has access to all the information with BC athletic director Brad Bates, BC VP of Human Resources Leo Sullivan and BC President Father William Leahy forming a tight decision making circle in which few leaks develop.
Schmidt is on the list because he is a Boston College graduate, who also has the backing of former BC quarterback and icon Doug Flutie, who was at BC as the same time as Schmidt. While Flutie’s support is not a factor in a decision, Flutie is part of a large group of BC alumni who have become more vocal and influential with the Board of Trustees at BC, who do play a part in the decision making process.
The status of Harvard coach Tommy Amaker remains unclear, but also could be fading, barring a last minute reversal in thinking by the BC administration who were reluctant to make some major changes in the philosophy of the basketball program which Amaker felt was necessary to turn BC back into a winning program.
The puzzling part of the extent of Amaker’s involvement is that, while he does not appear to be the front runner, he has yet to make a public statement that he will be returning to Harvard.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility for a final decision be made by the inner circle decision makers turning back to Amaker, which remains the most logical move.
Maybe the closed door meetings that were held throughout the day on Friday with Father Leahy, Bates and Sullivan were examining the options about life with Amaker or without him.
There also seems to be a residual resentment against anyone associated with former BC coach Al Skinner, which is the only plausible reason why another former BC player, Tim O’Shea, the head coach at Bryant and a former assistant on Skinner’s staff, was not brought in for an interview.
O’Shea has a similar and arguably better coaching resume than Schmidt.
If BC is seriously interested in Hopkins, a long time assistant to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, it might want to speed up the process since Hopkins reportedly is in the mix for the opening at Marquette.
Since Schmidt has already been interviewed and has the backing of Flutie, he may indeed emerge as the choice which could be announced in the next few days.
Just how many candidates BC will actually interview remains unclear.
But is usually the case in the usual mysterious world of BC coaching searches nothing is certain until an official announcement is made.
At this point, all options, ranging from Schmidt to Amaker to a mystery candidate, such as former UCLA and Pittsburgh coach Ben Howland remain open.
Those option decrease as coaches are hired for the remaining openings.
BC–along with Marquette and Wake Forest–is one of the premier openings, with the competition among the schools increasing as each opening is filled.
© 2014, Mark. All rights reserved.