Expansion Brings Tenured Coaches to ACC

Duke will face a former assistant of his in Notre Dame's Mike Brey starting next season.
Duke will face a former assistant of his in Notre Dame’s Mike Brey starting next season.

Of the twelve coaches who will be in Greensboro for this week’s ACC Tournament, only three assumed their current position before 2009.  That number will double next year.

The Big East and Notre Dame officially announced today that the two parties would split on July 1, 2013. This paves the way for the Fighting Irish to join the conference for the 2013-14 season in every sport except for football and hockey.

With Leonard Hamilton’s arrival in Tallahassee in 2002 and Roy Williams’ return to his alma mater in 2003, Mike Krzyzewski currently stands as the most tenured head coach of the conference.

However, Mike Krzyzewski may find a way to feel younger and older at the same time next season.  While he will relinquish the grasp on the title of longest-tenured head coach in the ACC due to Jim Boeheim’s arrival, he will also be facing a protege in former assistant Mike Brey.

Mike Brey has coached Notre Dame since 2000. Brey was first an assistant from 1987 to 1995 at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski.  Brey’s first head coaching job came at Delaware, where he led the Blue Hens to a 99-51 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances.  When North Carolina hired Matt Doherty to succeed Bill Guthridge, Brey was hired to fill Doherty’s vacancy at Notre Dame.  Now, Brey will have the opportunity to meet his mentor annually in conference play.

Under Brey, the Fighting Irish have reached the NCAA Tournament eight times in 12 seasons, including five of the last six.  However, they have only gone past the first weekend of the tournament once, when they reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2003.  Brey was voted Big East Coach of the Year in 2007, 2008, and 2011, and has been honored as national coach of the year by CBSSports.com and Sports Illustrated in 2011.  Brey’s contract at Notre Dame runs through 2022, so the future of that program seems to be charted.

There is rampant speculation that this may be Jim Boeheim’s last season as head coach of the Orange.  On Thursday, a tweet from the Syracuse University twitter account (which has since been deleted) suggested that Boeheim would retire at the end of this season.  The reports have been denied, and Boeheim says he has not put any thought towards retirement, despite mentioning “I am pretty much ready to go play golf somewhere,” following his team’s loss to Georgetown.

This year has been a tumultuous one so far for Boeheim. In February, he made headlines for calling ESPN’s Andy Katz an “idiot.” His post game conversations have broached a variety of topics, from the friends he’ll make in Clemson to gun control.  Regardless of the conversation constantly surrounding the program, there is little debate that Boeheim’s career at Syracuse has been legendary.  With more than 900 wins to his credit, Boeheim has led the Orange program since 1976.  In that time, he has claimed the 2003 National Championship, three Final Fours, five Big East Tournaments, and nine Big East Regular Season Championships.  If he chooses to coach next year, his credentials will carry considerable weight in the ACC.

The other coach joining the conference, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, will also have greater longevity at his current school than the majority of his new peers.  Dixon was an assistant coach for Ben Howland at Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh, with a brief stint as an assistant at Hawaii in between those two jobs.  When Howland left Pitt for UCLA in 2003, Dixon was promoted to the head coaching position.  Under Dixon, the Panthers went to eight consecutive NCAA Tournaments before missing last season’s field of 68.  However, the Panthers made the most of their situation in 2012, winning the College Basketball Invitational Championship.

Combined, these three coaches account for 45 NCAA Tournament appearances, three Final Fours, 11 Big East regular season championships, and six Big East Tournament championships.  All three of these programs are currently ranked in the Associated Press’ Men’s Basketball Rankings.  The Panthers lead the way at 17th, with Syracuse 19th and Notre Dame 24th.  However, the support they are expected to provide the conference upon their arrival next season comes not in their recent performance, but in the traditions of success they have built under their current coaches.

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