Kenny Payne is Treading Thin Ice With Louisville Basketball

Kenny Payne is walking with spiked boots on melting ice
Kentucky v Louisville
Kentucky v Louisville / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Louisville Basketball has not been in a good place, to say the least in the past couple of weeks. Kenny Payne was looking like he was going to be fired after a 20-point home loss to Kentucky, but was said to be "kept as head coach going into the new year".

Athletic Director Josh Heird also said that he would "evaluate Payne as the season progresses". Heird is a smart guy and he knows the state that Louisville Basketball is in, and that it is something that cannot be retained if the university is to prosper. Louisville lives off basketball, and if they are struggling to not get 30 pieced by Kentucky, then there is an issue.

It seems as if coach Kenny Payne is on a game-by-game basis right now, and that if the team continues to lose games he will be fired. But does Heird think Payne can somehow magically turn things around in ACC play? Surely not based on what he has seen so far from this head coach and team. Nothing has shown much improvement from last season besides the overall talent that the roster has.

I think Heird is looking at this situation from a more financial point of view. If Louisville fires Payne after this season they will owe him around 6 million, but if they fire him now they will owe him around 8 million. Heird seems to want to wait till the season is over to save Louisville some money in the long run. However, if things get so catastrophically bad from an on-court and coaching perspective, I can imagine he will pull the trigger on Payne.

Heird is looking at everything on a week-by-week basis and trying to make the best decision for the fans and the university. It is unlikely that Payne will be retained for year 3, and Heird is just trying to find the right moment to dismiss Kenny Payne. Whether that be at the end of the season or at some point during ACC play.

The players and coaching staff are all behind Payne, and that also plays a part in the firing. If everyone on that staff is going to carry over Kenny's policies then what is the point in firing him? If Payne is dismissed Louisville would likely try to bring in a whole new interim staff, which would be a hard thing to accomplish in any circumstance.

Heird and Louisville are in a tough place, but when it is all said and done it looks like Kenny Payne will not be coaching the Louisville Cardinals for a year three.

It is a matter of when, not if, for Kenny Payne.