A surprising name surfaced today in the Northwestern coaching search thanks to a tweet from Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal:
Hearing Al Skinner has spoken to reps at Northwestern and may do the same at Hofstra. Former Nat'l Coach of the Year at ACC's toughest job.— Kevin McNamara (@KevinMcNamara33) March 25, 2013
The ACC's toughest job McNamara references is Boston College, where Skinner had a largely successful 13 year run as head coach from 1997-2010, highlighted by a Big East championship in 2001 that won Skinner that aforementioned National Coach of the Year award. Overall, Skinner won 60% of his games at Boston College and made 7 NCAA tournaments in 13 years, a very solid record. Just based on that, he seems like a great candidate.
However, there are several major issues with Skinner. The first is that he hasn't coached at all at the college level since BC fired him in March of 2010; the only thing I can find on his employment since then is working as an assistant for a Boston AAU team.
The second is that Skinner was fired from Boston College in large part because of a major decline in recruiting towards the end of his tenure there. In 2009 BC didn't sign anybody, and in 2010 their only commit was a zero-star player who ended up transferring to Brandeis. The departure of assistant coach Ed Cooley (now the head coach at Providence) in 2006 was also a factor in that recruiting decline: Cooley played a major role in recruiting All-American Troy Bell, the star player on the 2001 Big East championship team.
At 61 years old, it's fair to wonder just how much energy Skinner would bring to Northwestern, especially considering he was never a very vocal or public promoter of Boston College basketball during his tenure there. There's also the fact that Skinner is not exactly a hot commodity right now in coaching circles, as his name has been linked to openings at schools like Hofstra and Brown.
So while Skinner has had a lot of success in a major conference in the past, I can't say I'd be too excited about bringing him to Evanston, unless he's been building great relationships while coaching AAU and has a whole bunch of top recruits waiting to sign with him wherever goes. I think the lack of interest from other major programs speaks volumes.