Louisville Basketball has not been the same in the past 3 years and while a decent amount of that can be attributed to the arrival of current head coach Kenny Payne, a lot of it can also be attributed to the NCAA cloud and everything else the university has been involved in recently. However, the only cloud that seems to be causing Louisville any trouble nowadays is Louisville.
Payne does have the basketball program in the best spot right now, but after a huge road win over Miami, the Cards and Payne have a chance to prove themselves until the season ends in March. If Payne miraculously wins a lot of games then he should be evaluated further, but as of right now as I am writing this article, it is looking like Kenny will not be retained for 2024-25.
With all that said, if Kenny is fired Louisville will have to begin another head coaching search, and the one name that shouldn't be anywhere near the top of that list is the current UCLA head coach Mick Cronin.
Let me start by saying that I do like Mick Cronin as a coach, for his style of play and how he sees the game. His time at Louisville under Rick Pitino was greatly appreciated and what he has done for Cincinnati and UCLA in the past is quite impressive.
However, as a potential fit for Louisville in 2024-25, it is not a good fit in the slightest.
The biggest reasons for this are his massive buyout and the actual product Cronin has been putting out on the floor for UCLA recently.
Cronin has a reciprocal buyout for his contract, which essentially means that if he leaves or is fired the buyout is the same amount of money. If Cronin leaves or is fired before April 1st then he is owed 20 million, but if it is after April 1st then it would be a 16 million dollar buyout.
That would be a historical buyout for any team in college basketball, let alone Louisville, who would still be paying off Chris Mack and a potential Kenny Payne. Mick Cronin is a good basketball coach, but 16 million plus a new contract he would have to sign is way too much for a head coach like Mick.
If Louisville is going to hire someone for that much money then they need to go after the best of the best, and not Mick Cronin. Cronin is a good basketball coach but for 16+ million I'm not sure the price is worth the product.
UCLA and Cronin are also having a terrible season when looking at recent memory. The Bruins recently just lost to Utah by a score of 90-44. That is a 46-point loss and is the 2nd worst in the history of UCLA basketball. I'm not sure there is a positive way you can spin that, and the fact that with that loss UCLA falls to 6-10 is even more embarrassing.
If you want to compare records and wins in 2023-24 then I would have to say Kenny Payne and Louisville are having a better season than UCLA. This is in a season where the Cards lost to Chattanooga at home by 10 and let Kentucky fans overtake their home stadium in the annual rivalry game. While Payne's team had a huge win the other night they still have lot of work to do if they want to be anywhere close to having a successful season. However, compared to what Cronin and UCLA have done this season, it is disgraceful.
What is UCLA's best win besides Oregon State in 2023-24? It might be the 1-point comeback win over UC Riverside where they took the lead with under 3 seconds left in the game.
That is the state of turmoil that UCLA basketball is in under Cronin right now. I know it is normal to have a down year every once in a while, but a 46-point loss to Utah and a 6-10 record? That can't be the sign of an "elite" coach.
However, even when looking at all of this there is still one person who thinks Mick Cronin will be the savior of Louisville basketball and he seems to spam tweet anyone who questions him.
The Bring Brohm Home guy on Twitter did what his entire account was made for, and that was to bring Jeff Brohm to coach Louisville football. He helped "create that movement" and ever since then, he has been a pretty normal-ish member of Louisville's Twitter. However, in the past few weeks, he has been adamant that Mick Cronin is the pick for Louisville basketball in the future.
If any criticism is made of Mick Cronin he just responds with a #Mickisthepick. While that is objectively funny, it is made on no real grounds and has no real reasoning or facts when looking past it just being spamming.
It may seem ridiculous to bring all of this up, but it is essentially everything that is wrong with a Mick Cronin to Louisville hire.
It is easy to say "Cronin to Louisville" because of his ties to the basketball program, how he runs a basketball team, his coaching style, and his success at UCLA. However, when looking at the financial situation, recent play on the court for his UCLA team, and all other potential candidates if Payne is fired, it is hard to see him as the #1 candidate for the job.
While Cronin could definitely be a candidate for the job and could have success here, he should not be the consensus pick for the job just based on his past here. We should all know better by now, especially with how Payne has worked out so far.
Mick Cronin should not be the #1 pick as of right now.