Pitt and Kevin Stallings have parted ways after just two seasons, according to a statement released by the university.
Stallings was 24-41 in his Panthers tenure and finished this season with an 8-24 record and an 0-19 mark against ACC competition.
Since 2000, only six high-major coaches had been fired after just two seasons on the job and just two of the six — James Johnson at Virginia and Billy Gillispie at Kentucky — were fired because of on-court performance. Kelvin Sampson at Indiana, Sean Sutton at Oklahoma State, Gillispie at Texas Tech and Donnie Tyndall at Tennessee were all fired for various off the court issues.
Who Pitt hires now will be an interesting thing to track. It’s not going to be easy to turn that program around, and it will be important for their AD Heather Lykes, who was hired last March, to get this decision right. The issue that Pitt has run into in the last few years is that the way they built their program was on the talent that they could pull out of New York and sell on playing in the Big East. That pipeline is not going to work as well in the ACC.
Clearly the big name here is Sean Miller, who is a Pittsburgh native that may be looking for a soft landing, depending on what he knows or thinks the FBI may have on him. Pitt also should make Danny Hurley say no. Thad Matta is another name that has popped up. The former Ohio State head coach has a proven track record and can get players in the midwest, but he’s never coach in the ACC before and part of the reason that things ended for him early at Ohio State is that he didn’t put in the same hours on the recruiting trail. Another out of work former Big Ten coach that would make sense is Tom Crean.
Former Pitt assistant and current Towson head coach Pat Skerry is another name that has popped up, and Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne would probably get the Panther fan base excited if they could land him. Iona head coach Tim Cluess, who has made five of the last seven NCAA tournaments out of the MAAC, would be another name that makes sense.
If I was Lykes, one of the first calls that I would make would be to Paul Weir, the current head coach at New Mexico who took New Mexico State to the NCAA tournament in 2017. He has been able to recruit players from Canada — he’s from Toronto — and in order to succeed at Pitt you need to find some way to gain a recruiting advantage. Canada might just be it.