Louisville has reportedly found its next head coach after recently firing Kenny Payne. In the process, the Cardinals have turned to a rising mid-major head coach with 4 NCAA Tournament appearances.

According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Jeff Borzello, Louisville is targeting Charleston’s Pat Kelsey to be the next head coach of the Cardinals. The 48-year-old head coach most recently led the College of Charleston to back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament.

The task ahead is not an easy one, to say the least. Louisville just sustained a disastrous 2-year stretch under Payne, finishing 12-52 overall with just 5 ACC wins and back-to-back last-place finishes in the conference.

Overall, the Cardinals have not been back to the NCAA Tournament since 2019, and the program has not been out of the first weekend of the tournament since 2015 under Rick Pitino. Fans can track the latest odds and trends for the upcoming 2024-25 season with Saturday Road’s FanDuel links.

Impact of the hiring

Though not yet announced as complete, the expectation is that the two sides will complete a deal to bring Kelsey to Louisville. If that happens, he brings an exciting brand of basketball with 4 trips to March Madness across Winthrop and Charleston.

While at Winthrop, the Eagles went 186-95 overall with appearances in the Big Dance in 2017 and 2021. Since taking over the Charleston job in 2021, the Cougars have gone 75-27 with back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tournament.

The last two seasons, Kelsey’s squad has gone 58-9 while averaging more than 80 points per game this past season. Facing Alabama in the opening round of the tournament, Charleston delivered 96 points in a loss to the Tide.

The Cougars finished 4th nationally in field goal attempts per game and 3rd in 3-point attempts per game. They finished the year with 368 made 3-pointers.

Ultimately, Louisville needs a passionate voice to rebuild, and that is something Kelsey possesses. Louisville maintains a passionate fanbase, but Kelsey was not above hitting the streets at Charleston to get students to turn out and turn up for the Cougars.

Per ESPN’s reporting, the Cardinals had pursued Baylor head coach Scott Drew and FAU head coach Dusty May. Missing out on those head coaches (Drew returned to Baylor and May has been hired by Michigan) stings, but that doesn’t mean landing on Kelsey should be seen as settling.

With an exciting brand of basketball, and a passion to match, Kelsey looks like the perfect fit to revitalize the Cardinals considering recent struggles.