Louisville Coach Candidate Profile: Eric Musselman, Arkansas Head Coach

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville’s men’s basketball program has mutually parted ways with Chris Mack, ending a nearly four-year run with the Cardinals. At the start of the coaching search, we’ll break down each potential candidate from most realistic to most distant. Next, we’ll take a look at Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman.

Name: Eric Mousselman
Age: 57
Born and Raised: Ashland, Ohio
Player career: University of San Diego Toreros
Previous experience: Head coach of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, assistant to four other NBA teams. Associate head coach at Arizona State and LSU, head coach at Nevada from 2015-2019 before taking a stint at Arkansas.
Connections with Louisville: Any.

Benefits: Musselman has a plethora of basketball experience at many levels of the sport. He has not only been a head coach at the collegiate level, but also in the NBA with the Warriors and Kings, and internationally with the national teams of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. While his time in the college ranks was brief compared to most other head coaches, Musselman had nothing but success. He posted a 110-34 record in Nevada, guiding the Wolfpack to three NCAA Tournament appearances during his four seasons there, including a trip to the Sweet 16. After his first year at Arkansas was cut short due to COVID, he guided the Razorbacks to the Elite Eight in 2021, and a top 10 to finish this season. Former players have also recognized him as a terrific player developer, and two of his three full recruiting cycles at Arkansas have been in the top 10 classes – including the signing of two McDonald’s All Americans in the ’22 class. .

The inconvenients: The biggest downside with Musselman is that, even at 57, he hasn’t been involved in the college game for very long. His first gig came in 2012 as an assistant coach at Arizona State – just ten years ago. Still, credit is due for his ability to rise through the coaching ranks. He also has a high-intensity personality that – while not necessarily a “con”, per se – isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Other factors: We must not forget that the Musselman buyout drops from $7.5 million to $2 million as soon as the 2021-22 season ends. Going back to his high-intensity personality, this also translates to his work ethic, with several former players and coaches raving about his attention to detail.

Probability of becoming Louisville’s next head coach: Moderate. Acting AD Josh Heird, in my opinion, would be stupid if he didn’t at least call Musselman. The real question is whether Musselman would be interested in leaving Arkansas. He’s got things going in Fayetteville right now, and making a second move in three years could be asking a lot of his family.

Other candidates:

Kenny Payne

Mick Cronin

Oats Nate

Steve Forbes

Scott Davenport

(Photo by Eric Musselman: Brett Rojo – USA TODAY Sports)

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