The last five Butler head coaches – dating back to Thad Matta in 2000 – were elevated from Butler assistants, today’s hiring of Milwaukee head coach LaVall Jordan is still very much from within “the family.” Jordan, a star Bulldog player under Matta and current Butler AD Barry Collier, spent three years as an assistant with his alma mater back in the mid 2000’s. In the time since, he has nine years of Big Ten coaching experience at Iowa and Michigan and finally landed a head coaching position just over a year ago.
After one season with the Panthers – an 11-24 re-building year – Jordan returns to Indianapolis, the city that was his home as a student and then again to start his coaching career. When the Butler position opened up last week, Jordan’s name was firmly situated on every basketball writers’ candidate list. On paper, he is the perfect fit – familiar with the school and the so-called “Butler Way,” a former BU assistant, plenty of experience recruiting the Midwest and some head coaching experience as the cherry on top.
Previous coach Chris Holtmann became the fifth coach to leave Butler for a power conference head coaching job since 2000, when he was hired to take over at Ohio State. Time will tell whether Jordan will add his name to that list or perhaps be the coach that stays at Butler for the long haul. Now that the Bulldogs are in the Big East and continue to be a fixture in March and beyond, the caliber of job required to pull a coach away (Ohio State, Boston Celtics) gets higher and higher.
As for Milwaukee, the school finds itself in the unlucky position of a surprise mid-June coaching search after just having hired a highly touted Big Ten assistant just 14 months ago. When previous Panthers head coach Rob Jeter was surprisingly fired, the player exodus began and turned Jordan’s job into a full re-build. The turnover took a 20-win team with three senior starters to a young and inexperienced squad that won just 11 games. Now, Director of Athletics Amanda Braun will have to hire another coach and hope that they can keep the team in tact and build upon whatever chemistry and momentum was created during Jordan’s brief tenure. Look for lead assistant Todd Townsend to get a serious look for the job.