Pitt pushed ahead with its coaching search on Friday after missing out on Dan Hurley the day before, and St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt was linked to the open job by Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog, who reported that Pitt was “targeting” the Bonnies coach to potentially fill its vacancy and had interviewed him for the position on Thursday.
Pittsburgh is now targeting @BonniesMBB coach Mark Schmidt as its next coach, source says.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 23, 2018
J.P. Butler of the Olean Times Herald confirmed Zagoria’s report, and The Buffalo News followed up on the news by noting that St. Bonaventure athletic director Tim Kenney had been informed of Pitt’s interest in Schmidt by a representative of the coach.
However, Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday evening that Schmidt, along with Iona head coach Tim Cluess, were no longer under consideration by Pitt.
I’m told Schmidt and Cluess are not involved in this process any more or at this point. So breathe easy Pitt fans and wait to see how the process plays out. It sounds like they are looking high and wide to find someone and I that’s a good thing if it yields the right guy— Paul Zeise (@PaulZeise) March 23, 2018
Schmidt reached the NCAA tournament for the second time in his 17-year career this season, leading the Bonnies to a 26-8 record that included knocking off UCLA in a tournament play-in game. He’s also gone 68-29 in his last three seasons with the Olean, New York, team, but it certainly can’t be said that he’s enjoyed overwhelming success during his long career.
Prior to his arrival in Olean, Schmidt coached Robert Morris from 2001 to 2007, leading the Colonials to an 82-90 record and failing to place higher than third in the Northeast Conference, despite a strength of schedule of -7.77 over that six-year span. He also struggled to turn St. Bonaventure around, as it took him four years to post a winning record with the Bonnies.
While the move would make sense geographically, given Schmidt’s previous experience at Robert Morris, he seemed to represent a significant step down from Hurley, who was known as a talented coach and recruiter at Rhode Island and seemed capable of saving a program.
As Zeise alluded to in his tweet, fan reaction to the news of Pitt’s interest in Schmidt was notably adverse, and many online were vocal about their preference for Buffalo head coach Nate Oats, a candidate who was linked to the open position by Zagoria on Thursday.
However, The Buffalo News provided an update on Oats as well, noting that a Buffalo spokesperson said Pitt had not requested to speak with the Bulls coach. The spokesperson had no comment when asked if Oats had informed the university of a desire to speak with Pitt.