WASHINGTON, DC – Virtually every major sportsbook app on the internet has already posted odds on who Louisville’s next basketball coach will be.

All the usual suspects are there, from Baylor’s Scott Drew to Auburn and Auburn’s Bruce Pearl.

Athletic director Josh Heird may eventually get around to contacting some or all of them as he begins his search to find a replacement for the recently fired Kenny Payne.

But before he does, there’s one phone call he needs to make.

It should be to Jay Wright.

And this is what he should say:

Hello, Jay. I know you’re not a big fan of the transfer portal and NIL. And I know you enjoy your new television gig. But here’s a blank check. Fill in the number and come coach the Cardinals.

Sure it’s a long shot. With all Wright accomplished during his 21 seasons at Villanova, including a pair of national championships, he has nothing left to prove by returning to the sidelines.

Still, he didn’t exactly say he was retiring when he stepped away at the comparatively young age of 60 following the 2021-22 season. All he said is that he’d “lost the edge” necessary to continue coaching at a championship level.

The thing about the coaching itch, though, is that it doesn’t fade that easily. Time away from the game, like a dab of calamine lotion, might soothe it for a while. More times than not, the itch eventually returns.

Whether it’s happened yet for Wright, if it happens at all, isn’t known. But Heird will never find out if he doesn’t ask.

It’s worth a try.

Louisville isn’t just any job. It’s a job that has a national championship pedigree. One with an NBA-caliber arena and a passionate fan base that deserves more than just 12 lousy wins in the past 2 seasons.

The Cardinals might not be a blueblood program. That’s a title reserved for their rivals across the state. But they are a brand name. And despite their recent struggles, the job of coaching them is still an attractive one.

Even more so because it offers a nearly blank slate for whoever comes in to rebuild with his own players, to his own style.

It’s exactly the kind of elite opportunity that could give an elite former coach the itch again.
If not, there are plenty of other big names out there to pursue.

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