Best Of 2019

Best Eternal Stepping Stone to a Bigger Job: Xavier University

Thanks to its seemingly endless stream of coaches who have gone on to bigger things, Miami University earned the nickname “The Cradle of Coaches.” But in the past few decades, it seems almost a given that when an NCAA basketball program needs a new coach, they’re not headed to Oxford — they’re going to come sniffing around Xavier University’s campus. From the ’80s through 2001, Pete Gillen and Skip Prosser had good and fairly lengthy runs at X, but Gillen would eventually jump to Providence, then Virginia, while Prosser was poached by Wake Forest. Then Thad Matta did so well at Xavier, he was lured to Ohio State after three years. His successor, Sean Miller (who, like Matta, came out of that Cradle of Coaches), likewise earned a lot of interest from other teams, ultimately leaving for Arizona after five years. Xavier fans fell quickly in love with Chris Mack, the Cincinnati native and X grad who took over in 2009 and led the team to five Sweet 16 appearances. But after helping X get the first No. 1 tournament seed in school history, Louisville found itself without a head coach after firing school legend Rick Pitino; they opened up their checkbook and hired Mack last March. Fans are hoping new coach Travis Steele will be great… just maybe not too great too soon, so he sticks around and maybe has a career like Mack’s. Xavier University, goxavier.com