The Maryland Terrapins had two advantages in their search for a new men's basketball coach: a three-month head start over every other school who might make a change after the season and what was shaping up as the most valuable head coach opening in the sport. That changes after Louisville and Chris Mack officially parted ways this week.
It's never good to have your coach leave in December, but those were the silver linings when Mark Turgeon and the school parted ways eight games into the season. Turns out those advantages were only temporary and Maryland fans should hope that the search committee has quickly done its due diligence.
Louisville's midseason opening means that there is another big program in an open competition with the Terps. That's not to say other athletic departments and athletic directors aren't out shopping the landscape even with a sitting head coach.
But Maryland and Louisville can be much more forward using their search committees to reach out to current and former head coaches to fill in their open position.
How well did the Terrapins utilize that extra month? Surely they have the leg up on the coaches that don't currently have a job: Sean and Archie Miller and former Michigan coach John Beilein, among others. For those currently employed at a school, the playing field has leveled between the two.
And this also flips the field as the Cardinals are a better coaching destination than the Terps. Remember all that talk of if Maryland was a top-20 coaching job or a top-30 coaching job? It doesn't matter here because Louisville is going to be higher on those lists given its three national championships, and an even bigger, newer arena than Xfinity Center in College Park. The KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville means the Cardinals have better facilities than Maryland, too.
The Terps are long used to competing with elite programs like Duke and North Carolina during their days in the ACC. Louisville is just one tier below given what it accomplished under first Denny Crum and then Rick Pitino.
Related: 11 candidates to replace Mark Turgeon
Three national championships (two if you ask the NCAA given the vacated 2013 title), 10 Final Fours, 43 NCAA Tournaments for the Cardinals. That's compared to one championship, two Final Fours and 29 appearances for the Terps.
It may very well be these are the only two top openings in the sport during this hiring cycle. All the big jobs where a move could be made got new coaches last season. Indiana, North Carolina, Duke (for a new coach next season), Texas and Arizona all exchanged hands a year ago. Barring a surprising retirement (Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, Leonard Hamilton at Florida State) or a coach tired of his situation (John Calipari at Kentucky, Patrick Ewing at Georgetown) - there aren't many expected openings at name programs.
Perhaps there is some muttering among the Oklahoma State and Florida fan bases during subpar seasons, but that is about it.
This is why - when Louisville was not expected to move on from Mack just a few weeks ago - it put Maryland in a golden spot to have little competition in the coaching market. Maybe they wouldn't get a big name like Auburn's Bruce Pearl to jump ship, but the Terps would have their choice of any interested party.
Some may ask if this move gives Maryland a new candidate in Mack? Not so fast. Mack is currently under investigation for Level II violations. Until any potential punishment is cleared up, most Power 5 programs are likely to stay away. Besides, there's already another tarnished former Louisville head coach the Terrapins can consider in Pitino, who is biding his time and doing well at Iona.
Either way, Louisville now needing a head coach moves Maryland down one in the pecking order. There are plenty of great current and ex-college coaches to make a run at and maybe even an NBA assistant or two, but the Cardinals are now the crown jewel. Maryland may own the 2021 BMW roadster in the office parking garage. Louisville just pulled up in a brand new Ferrari.