Smoke is pouring from the tiny chimney perched atop Varsity Village, as the University of Cincinnati has chosen John Brannen to replace Mick Cronin as the men’s head basketball coach. The terms of the deal, reportedly, are six years for $1.5MM, with significant performance-based incentives.
His path to Clifton has been long and winding, including stops as far north as New York and south as Alabama. Here’s a quick look at Coach Brannen’s positions along the way:
- 1999-2000: Assistant Coach, Charleston
- 2001-2003: Assistant Coach, Eastern Kentucky
- 2004-2006: Assistant Coach, St. Bonaventure
- 2007-2009: Assistant Coach, VCU
- 2010-2013: Assistant Coach, Alabama
- 2014-2015: Associate Head Coach, Alabama
- 2016-2019: Head Coach, Northern Kentucky
And now Head Coach of the University of Cincinnati (2019-?).
Brannen lives just across the Ohio River in Alexandria, Kentucky, having led NKU’s nascent D1 program to unforeseen successes. The Norse have made trips to the NCAA Tournament in two out of the last three seasons from the Horizon League. While impressive, it’ll be interesting to see whether his previous successes translate in an increasingly-competitive American Athletic Conference. Moreover, what kind of success will he have at recruiting top-tier talent with a C Paw on his quarter zip?
Mike Bohn’s decision to hire John Brannen marks the end of the Bob Huggins coaching tree era for the men’s basketball program. Because of that, I expect a significant shift in offensive/defensive/recruiting philosophies under the new coaching administration. Fox19’s Joe Danneman interviewed one of Brannen’s recent stars at NKU, Drew McDonald. McDonald had this to say of his former coach: “He’s going to play fast. He used the term ’94-feet both ways.'” Will a change in coaching guard pay off?
As with any coaching change, Brannen will have his hands full. He has to work to make sure existing scorers (like rising senior Jarron Cumberland and Junior Keith Williams) don’t depart. What’s more, Coach Brannen needs to lock down UC’s 2019 star recruit, SG Samari Curtis. Rashawn Fredericks has already announced his plans to enter the transfer portal; however, he was far from the most productive player last season. Will UC lose any more players? Will Cumberland return for his senior season?
One interesting wrinkle in the process is that none-other-than Head Football Coach Luke Fickell participated in the hiring process. Much like Fickell’s recruitment of UC’s Baseball Coach Scott Googins from Xavier, Fickell reportedly interviewed Coach Brannen prior to Mike Bohn making the hire. Clearly that speaks volumes about Bohn’s trust and respect for the head football coach.
A press conference for Coach Brannen’s introduction has been scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10 AM. With many candidates rumored to be involved, and many alumni (and former players) lobbying for their preference, the University of Cincinnati has settled on a direction forward. With smoke billowing, I am excited to meet the new coach and to see what he can do with the Bearcats.
By Brian Fox
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