At the tail end of my junior year at Providence College, I cut class to watch Ed Cooley’s introductory press conference as our next basketball coach. It didn’t take long for Ed to mention the importance of returning to his hometown of Providence. “Home means everything to me” was one of the first things uttered out of coach’s mouth as he addressed fans, alumni and students at Mullaney Gym. He discussed how his fit in Providence would make this a match made in heaven for years to come. Cooley wanted to build a program that won and won big and insisted it would take commitment to upgrade the resources and facilities.
Fast forward five years later and fresh off three straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament Cooley agreed to a multi-year extension. While discussing his new deal with the media he said that PC wasn’t a stepping stone job but a “destination job” and the deal was dubbed as making him “A Friar for Life”. While I trust in Ed Cooley and believe he has conviction in what he says regarding the program, the school and the community I always knew there’d be the possibility he could leave for a new school.
That possibility almost became a reality yesterday when Cooley emerged as a top candidate to fill the University of Michigan coaching vacancy created when John Beilein left for the Cleveland Cavaliers. While I knew Cooley loved PC, the brand and cache that comes with Michigan made me think we were fucked. In my brain I was getting ready to get on board the ‘Bring Back Pitino’ train. Even though PC had just landed 3 new transfers and 2020 being the Crier Prophecy (Final 4 season) I knew Michigan could outspend us and with the job being a top 10-15 destination in the country I knew it’d be hard for Cooley to pass. Well, Coach Cooley backed up all that talk over the years by removing his name from consideration and signing another multi-year extension today. Whether you want to argue that Cooley turned down Michigan or used them as leverage for the school to further invest in the program is semantics the fact of the matter is Ed is staying home.
Now that all the dust has settled this whole dilemma has told me two things regarding the program. The first thing Ed’s decision tells me is that the Crier Prophecy is alive and well. While this underwhelming past season had me starting to question the Crier Prophecy’s legitimacy this offseason ended that notion. Replacing a point guard who couldn’t create his own offense for one that can is a huge start and PC did exactly that with the addition of Luwane Pipkins. While the other two transfers don’t impact the prophecy I do like those additions as well, especially Jared Bynum, who could develop into the next great PG for PC. Emmitt Holt getting a waiver for another season is also massive because while it may be a tall order if Holt can return to the form he was before the abdominal injury we are cooking gas. I haven’t even mentioned that incoming freshman Greg Gantt has the length and athleticism to potentially make an immediate this upcoming season, plus the further development of last year’s freshman David Duke and AJ Reeves, plus the vets Alpha Diallo, Maliek White, and Kalif Young. With Cooley deciding to stay all of this remains intact and I don’t know about you but I can just see Jim Nantz interviewing Cooley after the Elite 8 victory saying “Ed you had the opportunity to leave Providence College last season but you didn’t, why?!?”. The second take away from today’s developments is that Cooley was right in 2016 when he said PC was a destination job otherwise he would’ve left. Sure you could argue that Michigan never came in with an offer but Cooley would’ve kept his name in the mix had PC not been the program he transformed it into. The facilities are some of the best in the country, the fan and alumni support seems at an all-time high. So while I’ll be the first to admit the NCAA Tournament record could be better I believe in Cooley because he believes in the vision and even if the Crier Prophecy is made up bullshit I’m ready to ride with Ed Cooley for many years to come.