Louisville Basketball Cannot Mistime the Firing of Kenny Payne

Firing a head coach is all about timing
Louisville v Pittsburgh
Louisville v Pittsburgh / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

The Louisville Cardinals have had a tough 2 year stretch with head coach Kenny Payne, and things are continuing to get worse for the Cardinals as they fell by 27 on the road at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

It is looking like Payne will be let go by the end of the season, but the way that he is let go by Louisville is what is going to make the difference for next seasons roster.

Payne's buyout right now is 8 million dollars, but after March 31st the payment goes down to 6 million. The main reason that Louisville did not fire Payne midseason was likely because of his large buyout, and athletic director Josh Heird likely wants to wait till March 31st to make the final decision.

However, there is a huge problem with that: the transfer portal.

The transfer portal opens the day the regular season ends on March 17th, and closes on the 1st of May, which is a 45 day period. If Louisville were to fire Payne on April 1st that would give the new head coach about a month to get his transfers in order, which would likely be the bulk of the team for year one.

It is all about timing for Louisville and Josh Heird, and every decision has its own set of positives and negatives. If you fire Payne before April 1st you are going to better set yourself up for the 2024-25 season, but in the process you have to pay 2 milion more dollars to Payne, and set yourself up for the narrarive of "why didn't we fire him in December". On the other hand it is the complete opposite, where you save money but lose out on creating a better roster for next season.

For the fans sake, I would let Kenny finish out the season, fire Payne, and then hire a new coach as fast as possible so the roster for next season can at least be comprehensible. Heird has likely been looking for a new head coach since Christmas, though backdoor channels and talks behind closed doors.

Louisville basketball has to get back to the promised land, and Kenny Payne has just not been the fit at all for the Cardinals. Barring an undefeated regualr season finish and an ACC tourney championship, Payne should be (and likely will be) fired at the University of Louisville.

Josh Heird does not have a difficult decision to make, he just has to time it right.