West Virginia Has to At Least Make the Call

Although Joe Mazzulla has stated previously that he would prefer to stay in the NBA, West Virginia must at least make its pitch for him to return home.  

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — Look, I already know what people are going to say: “Joe Mazzulla has already said a million times that he doesn’t want to coach in college and that he wants to stay in the NBA!” They’ll also say something along the lines of, “He just made it to the Eastern Conference Finals! Why in the world would he leave the job of the head coach of the Boston Celtics to take over the West Virginia basketball program?”

Those are great questions and they are very fair. It’s very, very unlikely that Joe Mazzulla even consider coming back to Morgantown to coach the Mountaineers, but if I’m Wren Baker, the director of athletics at West Virginia, I would at least have to pick up the phone and make my pitch.

Here’s the pitch I would make to Mazzulla: “You make $2.5 million a year with the Celtics. We can offer you $4 million right now. Despite your success in your first year in Boston, your job wasn’t exactly secure. You made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and people weren’t happy. If you come back home to West Virginia, you would be a hero at your alma mater and you would have complete job security. We would allow you to build the program in the way that you want to build it and we already have some of the best facilities in the country. In addition, we have proven that we can land top players through the transfer portal with NIL and you are a big name that young players would want to come play for. Joe, we need you right now. Come home.”

Now, Mazzulla would likely politely decline the offer, but it’s an offer that at least makes some sense financially and from a long-term career standpoint, and it’s an offer that must be made. If it doesn’t work right now, Mazzulla will at least know how interested they are in case things don’t work out with the Celtics next year. In other words, Joe Mazzulla returning to the coach the Mountaineers is a completely shot in the dark, but it’s a shot that Wren Baker has to take.