The Curious Case Of The DePaul Coaching Carousel

Here we go again.

DePaul Blue Demons men's basketball coach Jerry Wainwright has had his staff raided ... by his own AD. Earlier in the college hoops off-season, Scott Wainwright (yes, Jerry's son and former staff assisstant) was given his walking papers ... much to the chagrin of Papa Wainwright.

The younger Wainwright was allegedly pushed off the Lincoln Park campus when his pops would not agree to a partial buy-out of the three years remaining on his contract. Now, the rest of his staff is looking for work.

(Aside: Seriously, has there ever been a job in college basketball history where three assistant coaches have gotten the heave-ho and the head coach has gotten to stay?)


Sources told WSCR afternoon host Dan Bernstein DePaul had been trying to push Wainwright and his entire staff out the door in an effort to help lure SIU head coach Chris Lowery away from his alma mater. And when Wainwright declined to resign and accept the partial buy-out, heads started to roll.

In December, Lindsey Willhite of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, basically gauged Lowery's interest in the gig. C-Lo's response: Deserving of a block quote.

The biggest thing for me is, I want to win. That's No. 1. The only way I would leave Southern is if I thought I could go and win somewhere. I make great money. So I don't have to take a job where I feel is going to be detrimental to my career. I don't think I'm going to go anywhere that's detrimental to winning. And that's the thing: I've always been a part of winning, from high school to college to assistant (coach). Every step of the way, I've had some success. At this point, I don't need to go anywhere just for money.

In my chats with Lowery, I've learned that he likes the city of Chicago. (Most of those chats revolve around: "Hey Coach, get some Chicago games on the schedule so I can see the team once I graduates. Always my favorite ice-breaker w/C-Lo ... I digress.) He likes the city's recruits. He likes the exposure that could come from the media there. He likes Harold's Chicken (yeah, he told me that ... long story for another day). But DePaul seems like a job (right now) that could be detrimental to his career. Nothing says "detrimental to my career" like going to a school that was winless in the Big East.

Suprisingly, this is the last Lowery's name will be mentioned in this post (kind of).

Because if DePaul can't have C-Lo, it seems as if it will settle for assistant Lance Irvin, who coached under Joey Meyer in one of his many previous stops. As the Blue Demons attempt to rebuild the mess created by Wainwright (technically started by Dave Leitao but dates back to the Pat Kennedy days), Irvin is the "perfect" candidate because of his family ties to the very talented Mac Irvin Fire AAU team ran by his pappy.

At this point, Irvin should weigh his options carefully. If he returns to DePaul, it will likely be only for one year ... and likely will not land any of the Mac Irvin crew because he'll be added so late in the process. (Kind of why SIU doesn't have any Fire recruits right now. Most of those kids have already committed elsewhere.)

One year of bad Blue Demon basketball probably isn't worth the nearly six-hour trip up I-57.

Meanwhile, I can't help but wonder if Lowery is getting agitated by the situation. One of Lowery's top recruiting principles is bringing kids in who want to be Salukis. If an assistant (a highly regarded one at that) doesn't follow the same mantra, isn't that self-defeating ... or hypocritical?

Having dealt with Coach Irvin this season, I know the following:
  • He's a great quote.
  • In practice, he participates like he's a 20something.
  • The kids love him.
  • Coach Lowery loves him.
But if he goes, he goes. Remember when SIU had three different head coaches in three years ... and each of them won the Valley and the Valley's Coach of the Year award? If Saluki Nation can overcome that, it can overcome the loss of an assistant who had only one year worth of ties to the program.