(Photo Courtesy of Towson Athletics)
Late Tuesday morning, Johns Hopkins Athletic Director Jennifer S. Baker announced that the university and head coach Dave Pietramala had “mutually and responsibly agreed to part ways.” Thus leaving a vacancy at one of the most historic and successful programs in college lacrosse.
So for the first time since the summer of 2000, the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays will be searching for a new head men’s lacrosse coach.
Johns Hopkins is, without a doubt, one of the blue bloods of college lacrosse. And while the past few seasons haven’t been super successful, the Blue Jays are just two years removed for an NCAA Quarterfinal appearance and five years removed from their last Final Four appearance, where they were one goal away from a national title berth.
The morale might not be at an all-time high around the program, but there is reason to believe the Blue Jays can get back to the top of the mountain sooner rather than later. And the cupboard is certainly not bare.
So, who are some potential candidates that could take the reins and help lead this program back to where they were in the late-2000s and 2010s?
And yes, diehard Blue Jay fans have already started throwing around names – some of which make legit sense, and some that are a little more far fetched.
The man at the top of the wishlist for many of the Blue Jay faithful is Towson head coach Shawn Nadelen, who has turned Towson into a consistent top-20 program since taking the reins of the Tigers’ program ahead of the 2012 season. He has been at Towson since arriving as an assistant under Tony Seaman in 2004.
Nadelen has put together a 83-56 record during his tenure as the head coach at Towson. Under his guidance, Towson has made five NCAA Tournament appearances, which includes a quarterfinal appearance in 2016 and Final Four appearance in 2017.
Nadelen is a graduate of Johns Hopkins, where he helped lead the Blue Jays to two consecutive NCAA semifinals. He also served as an assistant at Princeton under legendary head coach Bill Tierney prior to arriving at Towson.
If Johns Hopkins were to go in the direction of Nadelen, they would get both the connection with the university and a similar style coach as they had previously, as Nadelen is a defensive guy.
Another name that has been thrown out a lot thus far has been Albany head coach Scott Marr, who is also a Johns Hopkins alum. Marr’s son, Kyle, also played at Johns Hopkins, graduating in 2018.
Since arriving at Albany ahead of the 2001 season, Marr has led the Danes to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, including four quarterfinal appearances and a Final Four run in 2018. He has a 186-126 overall record through his 20-season tenure at Albany.
Marr is known for his more fast-paced approach to the game, which has led to his Albany teams having some stellar offenses, especially in recent years. Great attackmen like two-time Tewaaraton winner Lyle Thompson and Connor Fields have thrived in Marr’s system.
Marr was previously the offensive coordinator at Delaware and Maryland before taking over the reins at Albany in 2001.
A few other current college head coaches who are Johns Hopkins alums who could very well get, at least, a look from the Blue Jays included Michigan’s Kevin Conry, Hobart’s Greg Raymond, and Hofstra’s Seth Tierney.
2020 was just Conry’s third season at Michigan, where they seem to have a promising future with some standout young players. Tierney, who was also an assistant for the Blue Jays at one time, is the most experienced of the three. However, his son, Ryan, will be returning for an extra season at Hofstra next season and the father-son duo looks poised to help lead the Pride to a great season in 2021.
Raymond has been one of the hottest names in coaching as of recent. Since taking over the helm of the Statesmen in 2014, Raymond has complied a 50-47 record and his teams have recently been threats in the NEC. The Statesmen have also had some of the nation’s best offenses under Raymond. Also, he is coaching DI lacrosse at a DIII school already. Even with the differences between Hobart and Johns Hopkins in funding, scholarships, etc. that is an added benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Drexel’s Brian Voelker’s name hasn’t seemed to be thrown out as much as some other Blue Jay alums, but he could also be a guy that Johns Hopkins contacts concerning this head coaching vacancy. He was also the Blue Jays’ defensive coordinator and the head coach at Penn prior to his time at Drexel.
In terms of hot head coaching names with no Johns Hopkins ties, Richmond’s Dan Chemotti and High Point’s Jon Torpey have been two names that have thrown out the most, thus far.
Chemotti, a Duke grad, was previously the offensive coordinator at Loyola, helping them claim a national title in 2012. In his seven-year tenure at Richmond, Chemotti has led the Spiders to four NCAA Tournament appearances. Similarly, Torpey, an Ohio State alum, has led the Panthers since the program’s inception and led them ton an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015. The Panthers also had a historic 13-win season in 2019.
Lehigh’s Kevin Cassese is also a name that could circulate in this coaching search, as he was in the mix for the Harvard head coaching job last summer.
If Johns Hopkins goes the assistant/coordinator route for this search, guys like Georgetown offensive coordinator Michael Phipps and North Carolina associate head coach/offensive coordinator Dave Metzbower would likely be the first to field calls from the Blue Jays. It is just hard to see a blue blood program like Johns Hopkins go for a young assistant. And again, will they even put heavy consideration on any assistants in this search?
Things are very early in this search, obviously, and there is more speculation than anything at the moment. But there is no denying that the Blue Jays should certainly have a fair share of candidates to look at in this search, especially considering the program’s track record for pumping out quality coaches.