College basketball may be more than a month away, but it is front and center today, just not for the right reasons. In case you missed it, and I’m not sure how you could have, a number of coaches and programs have been implicated in a recruiting scandal that will most certainly shake the ground CBB stands on.
But I’m not here to go over the legalese or condemn anybody. If you want more details on this case as it develops, there are plenty of places to look. What I’d like to use this opportunity for is to remind everyone who holds the Cincinnati Bearcats deep in their hearts that you should appreciate Mick Cronin.
While Rick Pitino (reportedly) and others have once again been exposed for back-door dealings, Cronin is one of the coaches in the country who does not get the respect he deserves even as he leads an extremely successful program. Obviously, no coach is beyond suspicion in the world of big-time college athletics, just as any player who cracked 40 home runs during the Steroid Era will always be evaluated with an eyebrow firmly raised, but Cronin has by all accounts run a clean program and one that has been colored by success, even if plenty of people will try to downplay his accomplishments by decrying a failure to win in March or other such nonsense.
The Bearcats have gone to the NCAA Tournament in seven of Cronin’s 11 years at the helm, doing so every year since 2011. The former Murray State head coach is 237-135 all-time at UC, which puts him behind only mentor Bob Huggins for the most wins by a UC coach. He has recruited some exceptional talent in his day, bringing in the likes of Sean Kilpatrick, Justin Jackson, Troy Caupain and Jacob Evans, as well as transfer difference makers like Kyle Washington and Cane Broome. Just look at this year’s class alone to see the type of recruiting ability he has, as he brought in four-star shooting guard Keith Williams along with Mamoudou Diarra, Trevor Moore and Eliel Nsoseme to address specific needs on the roster. That class rates at the No. 2 class in the American Athletic Conference.
He is going to be coaching for a long time too, as he is just 46 and already has more than 300 career wins (including Murray State) as a head coach. Let’s just appreciate him for as long as he’s coaching the Bearcats.