ACC Coaching Hires: Jeff Capel to Pittsburgh, Chris Mack to Louisville

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Jeff Capel
WINSTON-SALEM, NC - JANUARY 28: Acting head coach Jeff Capel of the Duke Blue Devils reacts during their game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at LJVM Coliseum Complex on January 28, 2017 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

Despite having no teams represented in the Final Four, the ACC is widely considered the powerhouse of college basketball. As a result, well-respected coaches from around the country flock to the conference every time a job becomes available. The opportunity to join the legendary likes of Jim Boeheim, Mike Krzyzewski, and Roy Williams (among others) is just too good to pass up. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the two newest ACC coaching hires: Jeff Capel to Pittsburgh and Chris Mack to Louisville.

ACC Coaching Hires: Jeff Capel to Pittsburgh, Chris Mack to Louisville

Jeff Capel to Pittsburgh

For those familiar with Duke Blue Devil basketball, Jeff Capel is a household name. Not only did he play for the team from 1993-1997, but he’s also spent the last seven seasons as an assistant under Coach K. On Tuesday, it was announced that Capel would be hired as the Pittsburgh Panthers‘ head coach. The two sides agreed to a deal that will keep Capel in the “Steel City” through 2025.

Pitt is coming off a rough couple of seasons. Under Kevin Stallings, the team went 24-41 over the past two years and was winless in the ACC in 2017-18. Needless to say, a change was needed given the university’s storied past which includes 26 NCAA Tournament appearances.

So why is Jeff Capel such a good hire? Well, for one, he has a ton of experience. Capel has been coaching since 2000, including two stints as a head coach. One was with VCU, where he led the team to four consecutive 18-win seasons and an NCAA tourney birth. And another stop in Oklahoma, where, despite a few eligibility issues, Capel made two post-season runs, including a trip to the Elite Eight.

But it’s not just his knowledge of the game and success that makes Capel such an attractive hire. Capel has been the lead recruiter for Duke for several years now. Under his tutelage, the university has boasted the top recruiting class in four of the last five seasons. That should have Panthers fans salivating over what the next few years may look like.

Chris Mack to Louisville

Another huge splash in the coaching world came out of Louisville, Kentucky, on Tuesday. Chris Mack, the long-time Xavier coach, was plucked from his alma mater to lead the Cardinals out of Rick Pitino‘s shadow. Mack, who spent nine years with the Musketeers, boasts a .689 win percentage as a Division 1 head coach and has been highly sought-after as a result.

This year, Mack led Xavier to the school’s first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They were no stranger to having their name called, however, reaching the big dance in eight of Mack’s nine seasons at the helm. His consistency, and two Atlantic 10 regular season titles, certainly paid dividends in landing him this highly enticing job.

The ACC won’t be as kind to Mack as his preceding conferences were, though. Not only is the competition much stiffer, but he is also taking on a job that will be highly scrutinized. The FBI recently investigated the university regarding fraud and the improper paying of athletes. These allegations are what led to legendary coach Rick Pitino being ousted ahead of this past season. This will likely make recruiting very difficult for Mack at his new home.

Nonetheless, this is a good hire for Louisville, as long as the school keeps its expectations realistic. Although the team finished 22-14 this past season, it’s definitely going to take Mack some time to adjust to his level of competition. Luckily for him, the seven-year deal (worth $4 million per year) he inked will provide him with a good sense of job security right from the tip.

 

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