Before taking the job at Louisville, Chris Mack had a good thing going at Xavier.
So good, in fact, that he had previously turned down other Power Five conference programs with considerable resources. Yet, Louisville, despite the scandals currently haunting the program, was the job that he deemed appealing enough to leave a comfortable thing for.
And Mack explained why he would make such a risky decision in a recent column by Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde.
“I always wanted to take that next step at a place that truly cared about basketball,” Mack said. “Sometimes coaches talk among themselves about being at a place where football is more important and they leave you alone. I don’t know. At Xavier, we were at the forefront — basketball was it.
“I didn’t want to go to a place where they didn’t necessarily passionately care about basketball. That’s no disrespect to football at Louisville, which has been great, but there’s a huge commitment to basketball. And I always thought the ACC was the best basketball conference in the country.
“Really, there aren’t many Louisvilles out there.”
Mack now has the potential fallout from an NCAA investigation that already resulted in a vacated national title to deal with and an FBI investigation swirling that cost his predecessor his job. There are also lawsuits pending in lieu of the dismissals that resulted from that probe.
He’s got a lot of distractions to deal with but the potential to lead a program like Louisville in a city that truly cares about basketball is why they decided the potential reward outweighed the considerable risk. That has to make Louisville feel really good about the possibility that they found a coach who will stay for a long time if he can find success despite all that he has working against him.