Last Thursday was a busy one in the world of college lacrosse as conference tournaments were being played while news was breaking simultaneously that Navy and Harvard had both fired their head coaches.
Both of these coaching openings are very interesting in terms of the history of each program and the specific requirements with either academics or military service. While Navy has named associate head coach Ryan Wellner the interim head coach Harvard has yet to publicly name an interim coach at this time.
Over the past few days since news of these coaching changes first broke discussion has run rampant as to who the coaching candidates are, or will be, for both of these positions. While we took a look at some initial names popping up last week, here is a deeper dive into some of the names that have surfaced for each job in the days since the news first broke.
Navy seems to have a bigger and more defined pool of possible candidates at this time. The two biggest named that have been thrown around are Maryland head coach John Tillman and Loyola head coach Charlie Toomey, with other lesser known names mentioned as well.
It is expected by manythat Navy will reach out to either John Tillman or Charlie Toomey, or both. The likelihood that either coach will leave their current positions is very low. Both have made stops at Navy as assistant coaches, but have had enormous success at their current post with multiple Final Four appearances between the two.
Some other names that are expected to be targets for Navy are Marquette head coach Joe Amplo and Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen. Both coaches have been named in multiple coaching searches over the past few years, including Michigan and others.
While the likelihood that any of those four coaches would leave their current spots is pretty low there are some more realistic candidates that are expected to be contacted as well, but aren’t as big of names as those four.
Current Navy interim head coach Ryan Wellner seems to be a top candidate at this point, according to multiple reports. Wellner has served as an assistant coach at Navy under Rick Sowell for eight seasons. He was the defensive coordinator and oversaw recruiting for the Midshipmen. Wellner has been on the road over the past couple of days visiting 2019 and 2020 recruits in multiple states.
In an article by Bill Wagner from the Baltimore Sun Wellner stated that he would love to be considered as a candidate for the head coaching position and has been transparent with Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk about that fact.
Maryland offensive coordinator J.L. Reppert is a name that he popped up in connection with the Navy job since the new broke. Reppert played at Navy from 1996-1999 and was an assistant for Midshipmen years prior to heading to Maryland.
High point head coach Jon Torpey and UMBC head coach Ryan Moran have also been names mentioned in this coaching search very early on. Moran was an assistant coach at Navy from 2006-08 and was the head coach at the Naval Academy Prep school in 2005. Torpey’s stock has risen over the past few years due to his success at High Point.
Harvard’s pool of coaching candidates doesn’t seem to be as defined or as deep as Navy, at least this early on in the coaching search, but there have still been multiple names thrown around over the past couple of days.
Amherst head coach Jon Thompson and Yale assistant coach Andrew Baxter seem to be the two names that are popping up and being thrown around the most this early on in the coaching search. Both would be good fits at Harvard as they have experience coaching in a similar environment with very similar restrictions.
Thompson has been the head coach at Amherst for nine seasons and has taken that program to new heights. With the NESCAC being similar to the Ivy League, Thompson would make sense as a candidate.
Baxter has been the defensive coordinator at Yale for six seasons and was recently promoted to associate head coach earlier this season. Baxter has helped lead Yale to a ton of success that includes a national championship last year.
A very interesting name that could be mentioned is Gerry Byrne. The Notre Dame defensive coordinator has been named in almost every coaching search over the past few years, and was a named in Harvard’s search when John Tillman left for Maryland.
Boston U. head coach Ryan Polley and Virginia offensive coordinator Sean Kirwan are two other names that could bee heard in this search. Polley has built a rising giant in the Patriot League while Kirwan has been successful under Lars Tiffany at Brown and now Virginia.
It’s still early and very unclear as to what direction either program will go, but there are plenty of options for potential candidates for both jobs.
Also, Mason Poli at Quinnipiac and Peter Burke at Holy Cross led their teams on an interim basis this season. After the seasons they both had we could see either of them be retained as full-time coaches or let go.