I am not a Providence College Alumni, but I've been a fan ever since moving to the city. I am a writer for our House of College Hoops section and cover the sport as a whole, but I will always have a special place in my heart for Coach Cooley, for the years of respect and conversations he's shared with us since starting House Enterprise. I can't imagine what students and alumni and diehard fans are feeling right now, but from my perspective, I am shocked.
There's a lot to unpack, and we'll have a Therapy Session with the Big East crew this week as well as an official Road To The Garden pod drop tonight, but this is what I have for right now.
Last week, we knew this was a possibility. By yesterday, that this was imminent. This morning? His house was listed on Zillow for sale, and the paper work he signed happened EARLIER THIS MONTH?! The fact that Georgetown never contacted Providence is also just shady. Also... when Cooley was "recruiting" TCU big man Eddie Lampkin earlier last week, was he recruiting him for Providence for Georgetown?
If you want to leave and follow your mentor, that's fine. Do that AFTER THE SEASON. It will still sting, but at least it will be correct. Being the first Big East Coach to turncoat is one thing, to go to a rival, and do it in the midst of the season is bonkers.
Clearly, the players knew. Look at the numbers and the conversations. The losing skid happened right after this so called disclosure was signed. Listen to Ed Croswell not mention Cooley right off the bat when reflecting on his Friar career.
Still though, why leave?
Georgetown is not in the position to compete in the Big East anytime soon. Their facilities aren't as nice as Providence's. They aren't the Hoyas of the past, basketball isn't the cities priority. You lose respect by players and coaches in the conference. Besides the pay jump, which Providence probably could have matched, you move laterally? Heck, I would even say it's a downgrade. All for what, legacy? It's tarnished. Your hometown hero tagline has been revoked. Fans will boo you when you visit. Relationships you have will falter. All for a new start? If he left for Michigan, or Louisville, people would be sad, but not hated. Cooley made this a media expose, and dragged it along saying "he had no idea", when clearly that was false.
Ed Cooley is arguably one of the most marketable and loved figure heads in the state of Rhode Island. Beers are named after him, he is a staple of the community. I can confidently day that you can put a picture up of any athlete, actor, or musician, and 50-60% of the state would know who that person is. You put up a picture, and 100% of the residents here would know that's Coach Cooley.
This was your "dream job", this was your "community", "Us, Together, We, Family, Friars", what went wrong and what changed? From our interview on BBB with Cooley last year, it never sounded like leaving was an option.
I truly don't think Providence was expecting this to happen. Even with the rumors flowing and the social media interactions. This is going to be an interesting search, so who even replaces Cooley? Is it Coaches from the past, like Rick Pitino or Billy Donovan? Is it a current star in the league, maybe Penn State's Shrewsberry? Could it be an up and comer, George Mason's Kim English? Or is it an internal promotion for Jeff Battle?
To be honest. I don't know.
That was a lot, but it's been on my mind for some time. Obviously, you respect Ed Cooley for what he has done for the city, Providence College, the athletes, the program, and to the media. He was always a delight to talk to, super respectful and passionate, and someone who fired up the crowd. I understand wanting a change of scenery, and the decision wasn't taken lightly, however, this one hurts. It feels like you burnt a bridge that took you decades to build and foster.
Our guy Michael DeRosa had this to say in our chat. "I really think this job is about more than basketball to Cooley. This is Georgetown. There’s history behind it, behind social justice and standing for more than basketball. Coach Thompson brought together the elites of Georgetown with the inner city. Cooley is looking to do the same. I’m gonna try to explain this on air later, but there’s legit significance here. I think this is really what drew him to the job."
There isn't much more for this blog, but there's more to come from this whole situation. But for now, Goodbye Coach Cooley...