Potential Lacrosse Head Coaching Candidates

Submitted by L'Carpetron Do… on May 5th, 2017 at 11:29 AM

After a long career with Michigan at both the club and Division 1 level Coach John Paul has been let go.  A lot of us have a lot to say on this topic but I won’t get too into it. While the success on the field never met expectations JP still leaves behind a great legacy. I think a number of former players (even those who had differences with him) were sad to see him go. But now it’s time to look forward to the next chapter.

The word on the street is that Michigan is looking to hire a Big Time Coach. Some of the internet sources out there claim that this is now one of the marquis coaching positions in the country.  Some have gone so far to say that Michigan is willing to throw so much money at the job that basically any and every coach in the country is a potential candidate (I disagree and don't know how true this is). But let’s take a look at who might be the next coach to lead Michigan to the Promised Land.

Top Tier Division I Coaches and Legends

Since apparently every coach in the country is potentially on the table, I figured I might as well give you a briefing on the best ones in the game (even though most of them are not really an option).

Dom Starsia - former Virginia coach, probably the odds-on favorite for his career credentials and name recognition. By far the biggest name available coach out there even though he was squeezed out after some bad years. He’s retired right now but has hinted he wants to get back into it. There were heavy rumors last year that he would take the helm at Utah if they added a D-1 program. His UVA teams had under-the-surface discipline problems, however.

Dave Pietramala - Petro’s name always comes up around the Michigan job and word is he really wants it. Hopkins is always formidable but the Jays have been slipping the last few years.

Bill Tierney - probably the all-time greatest, turned Princeton and Denver into powerhouse championship factories. But, he’s at the end of his career and probably won’t be moving unless he wants to add more to his legacy.

John Danowski - the John Beilein of lacrosse - he’s the best pure coach in the game. But probably won’t leave for a rebuilding job at a different program.

John Tillman - superb all-around coach and the youngest of this group. Doubt he would leave Maryland though.

John Desko - Syracuse is Syracuse and I’m not sure how much he has to do with their success. I played with a guy years ago who said the team basically runs itself.

Kevin Corrigan - Ditto for Corrigan - the program seems to succeed despite him (I also never heard good things about him). He’s basically the JP of ND lacrosse: he's been the coach from the start and his dad is a former Irish AD. So he’s very unlikely to move anyway. Plus, Michigan doesn’t need to hire an ND guy.

Other top coaches, but unlikely to move: Jeff Tambroni (Penn State), Lars Tiffany (UVA), Charlie Toomey (Loyola).

Likely Candidates

These are mostly younger guys who will be the next generation of great coaches. They're likely to be the target candidates for the job.

Scott Marr - Albany is legit now all thanks to Marr. He’s been the program’s only coach at the Division 1 level and not only are they good, but they are also the most exciting team to watch in the country. Marr also brings a recruiting pipeline to New York State and Iroquois Nation which are freaking talent goldmines. Somehow he has yet to be poached by prestigious blue blood programs. But for some reason this seems like the time. I think this would be the best hire Michigan could make.

Joe Amplo - Dude is young and has proved to be a great hire for Marquette which has had success in its first years in D-1 and he's already taken the Golden Eagles to the tournament. He’s a Long Island boy so he can get those players to campus. Most importantly he can coach defense. Wonder what he could do with more resources.  

Andy Shay - another solid young(ish) coach who has Yale at the precipice of being a national power. Can recruit smart kids who can get into a competitive university which is a plus.  

Other guys in this category: Joe Alberici (Army), Shawn Nadelen (Towson), Dan Chemotti (Richmond), Ryan Polley (BU).

Outside the Box Hires

These are some left-field candidates (basically my wild ideas).

Jim Berkman this guy has won 11 national titles at D-III Salisbury State. That’s pretty good. Over the years, there have been a number guys to come up to D-1 from the lower divisions and make an impact. I’m curious if Berkman could do the same for Michigan. Would give Michigan major recruiting connections in the state of Maryland.  

Gary Gait - on-the-field Syracuse legend who currently coaches the Orange women’s team and was named ACC Women’s Coach of the Year for 2017. It’s a different game but I wonder how well he would do coaching men. Michigan would become an immediate destination for the best talent from Canada and upstate NY. Probably not a serious option but might at least be worth a call and friendly chat, purely for his legend status.

Matt Danowski - one of the best college players of all-time and has a built-in mentor in his father he can call for advice (he’s currently a Duke asst). Could be risky because youth and inexperience are major issues. But if he has the same talents as his dad, Michigan is looking at a 25+ year generational hire and likely multiple national championships.

Kevin Conry - like Danowski, would be a major gamble because he’s so young and has no head coaching experience. But he played under Petro and has coached for Tillman for years and ranks among the game’s best assistants. He’s a good recruiter and he coaches Maryland’s defense which is always one of the top units in the country.

Others: Ben DeLuca (asst, Harvard), (+ Mgoblogger Kevin Holt)

Anyway, thought some people might be interested in seeing some potential candidates. Of course it could be anyone outside of this group as well.  But if I had to pick three guys who should absolutely get calls they would be Marr, Amplo and John Danowski (although Matt may be the more realistic option). I think my biases shine through a little but in any event this should be a really interesting hiring campaign. Hopefully Michigan lands someone who brings the program a lot of success. GO BLUE!!!



May 5th, 2017 at 1:55 PM ^

I suspect we were likely teammates at some point, I played midfield and graduated in '03.  Your username fits perfectly with how I remember my teammates.

I would put Byrne near the top of the list, along with Matt Brown.  I would rather have Byrne than quite a few of the "legend" coaches you have listed.  Starsia is just too old, I really hope we don't end up with him.  Byrne's defenses at ND have just been stellar, and the fastest way to become competitive is to get a stingy D.  

There are a lot of great coaches on that list, but I would rule out a lot based on fit.  For example, if I were Scott Marr, I wouldn't even consider it.  He's got the native american pipeline going in upstate NY, and plays in a conference that he can win regularly. Moving to the Big10 will make the road to the NCAA's much more difficult. 

L'Carpetron Do…

May 5th, 2017 at 2:29 PM ^

I agree that I'd rather have Byrne or another top-flight assistant over a lot of those aging legends.  It would be interesting if this was 4-5 years ago though - Danowski and Tierney wouldn't be so close to retirement and might be tempted to try something new while Starsia and Petro's stocks were much higher.

I think the notion that everyone is an option is ridiculous. When the USC football job comes open, Harbaugh, Meyer and Saban aren't immediately considered candidates. There are simply some guys who are in good spots who won't budge. The lacrosse world is much smaller but its the basically the situation. Penn State, Maryland and Virginia are not going to let their guys go without making counter-offers. 

I love Albany's style and I think Marr could make Michigan flashy and fun as hell. The type of team you want to put butts in seats. The only thing I worry about w Marr is his ability to get kids into Michigan. A lot of his guys come from NYS and getting into Albany from in-state isn't exactly hard. And most schools on Indian reservations are really poor so a lot of those kids may not be prepared academically for M (Syracuse had admission/academic problems with a handful of its Iroquois players).

I like the idea of a Danowski 2-for-1. See if you can get John to coach another few years until retirement and then hand the reins over to his son.


May 5th, 2017 at 2:48 PM ^

I definitely agree that we won't be able to just get any coach we want.  Many have ties to their school and have families in the area.  This isn't a 7 figure job, and if you've already got a good thing going and you are near your family, why would you ever leave.  

Marr's offense would be fun to watch.  Amplo would be on my short list as well.  

901 P

May 5th, 2017 at 4:56 PM ^

I don't know anything about lacrosse, but I played basketball with Byrne a few times when he was coaching at the school where I work. Dude was a pretty good basketball player. He was also pretty intense, especially considering it was mostly a bunch of old-ish faculty and staff.

/cool story bro

L'Carpetron Do…

May 5th, 2017 at 12:50 PM ^

Also hearing a lot about Gerry Byrne, asst at ND.  Could be the real reason behind ND's success . He's won best assistant awards in the past. Supposed to be really talented, polished and ready for a HC gig.


May 5th, 2017 at 1:29 PM ^

Starsia was kind of a nepotist his last few years at UVA.  He hired his son Joe for the last three years, he was basically an average coach.  Did some good things with individual defensemen, not so much the defense as a whole.  Marc Van Arsdale was the OC and Starsia/MVA kept putting Van Arsdale's son Owen out as a starting attackman.  He stunk.  He was like 5'7" with average speed and no shot to write home about.  He played in front of some other guys that looked a hell of a lot better.

I enjoyed watching the Starsia years and have nothing but appreciation for what he did for the program, even if the discipline got a little under-done at the end.  I thought on balance he was a really good guy.  But the game passed him by.....you wouldn't want to hire him here.


May 7th, 2017 at 10:02 PM ^

First of all Steele Stanwick almost single-handedly kept Starsia on the sideline for a good 3-4 years. My biggest issue with Starsia was "the discipline thing", he essentially kicked the Bratton brothers off the team for something that pales in comparison to what Huguely had been doing. The murder was the sum of all the things Starsia let him slide with. 

Starsia should be at the absolute bottom of the list of candidates. He covered for Huguely's numerous criminal acts and then lied about it. On the other hand, he kicked the Bratton brothers off for missing practice. 


May 5th, 2017 at 1:51 PM ^

Based on comments from the Lacosse types on twitter it seems Michigan will be able to pick whoever they want including many of the names on your list you say won't leave.

Leatherstocking Blue

May 5th, 2017 at 3:53 PM ^

Awesome summary and a very valuable rundown on the options.

Albany is certainly a fun team to watch but I don't know if that is the coach's imprint or a result of the players they gathered. With Lyle and Myles Thompson, their offense was amazing to see. 

What I don't know is if the Iroquois players come to Albany because of the coach or the Albany campus itself. Plus several of the Iroquois players come to Albany from Onondaga Community College (close to their home) so would Michigan be too far and/or would Michigan accept some of the great players from Onondaga CC? Would he be a great coach with a different type of talent?

Certainly you can build a great program without the Iroquois, but, boy, their playing style would bring a lot of excitement to Michigan.



May 5th, 2017 at 5:53 PM ^

Thanks for the rundown.

I really envy the kids here in Michigan who get to play Lacrosse. Hockey in the winter and Lacrosse in the spring wouldve been heaven for me as a youth. There werent any programs here when I was in HS though.  I only knew it as the game the Ojibwas played in front of the gates to Fort Michilimackinac in order to dupe the British during Pontiacs Rebellion. 


May 6th, 2017 at 2:35 PM ^

I actually saw Gary Gait at a Publix in Florida a few years ago. My girlfriend asked who he was, I said that's one of the greatest lacrosse players ever. Cool story bro.


May 6th, 2017 at 9:31 PM ^

Petro is not leaving Hopkins. Where this fantasy came from that he's interested in the job is beyond me. Just because he was a huge supporter of the effort to get M to go varsity doesn't mean he wants the job.

Coach T is not leaving Denver. It's his retirement destination as his kids are out there.

Why would Danowski leave Duke?

Starsia is the only one on the top of that list that has any chance of moving.

I love the idea of Scotty Matt, but note that the Great Danes and the Blue Jays have put their series on hiatus until Scotty's kid graduates from Hopkins. In 2 more years. He's gone in record that he doesn't want to coach against his kid.

Michigans next coach is probably coming from the Ivies, or is a talented guy at a second tier school. Think Shawn Nadelen.

SF Wolverine

May 7th, 2017 at 3:08 PM ^

how close is the program to being able to recruit the very top players? I assume that a high-end coaching hire will help that, but if we are at least sniffing it now, might be  amore compelling job for one of the top folks on your list.


May 29th, 2017 at 5:20 PM ^

They're already reeling in top-15 classes or so (very good, but not elite with only 70 programs compared to 125 in FBS football). Recruiting hasn't been and won't be an issue, almost regardless of who is the coach.

The talent returning would probably make U-M a top-25 team next Spring, without taking into account the bump from a very good coach. The rising senior class was the second full D-1 class, IIRC.

L'Carpetron Do…

May 7th, 2017 at 8:29 PM ^

Selection show should be interesting tonight.  Interested to see which of the candidates make the tournament and who they get matched up with.

Some of them are in so far and have qualified through auto-bids:

Marr - Albany (America East Champs)

Nadelen - Towson (Colonial Champs)

Shay - Yale (Ivy Champs)

Loyola, AF, Marq, Bryant and Monmouth got AQs as well.  

Maryland are in as B1G champs and would've gotten an AL bid anyway.  Syracuse, Denver, ND, Ohio State and Penn State are pretty much locks for at-large spots.  UNC and Hopkins are also in this category but  there's an argument to be made that Hopkins should be on the 'out'-side of the bubble after a poor finish to the season for the second straight year (UNC won the ACC but after a not so hot season - ACC is not an AQ conf).  I would like to see Army, Rutgers or Hofstra get those spots instead.  We'll see - could be an interesting tournament.



L'Carpetron Do…

May 7th, 2017 at 9:10 PM ^

Oooh boy, Albany got hosed with an 8 seed and Hopkins got 6 - that's kind of bogus....

WOW  - and they have to play UNC first round.  UNREAL.  They must have someone on the committee who hates them.  Maybe Marr will want to jump to Michigan haha

Maryland gets UNC or Albany in the 2nd round?  This is horrible.  

kevin holt

May 9th, 2017 at 3:41 PM ^

You forgot me and I very clearly submitted my candidacy in game threads and I am offended but I'll still accept the job, just add another 0 or two.

L'Carpetron Do…

May 15th, 2017 at 9:46 AM ^

Lots to hate in the lacrosse world. I you thrive on hatred on I do, its the game for you.  Most of the most hatable schools out there have teams and are among the game's elite:  Duke, UNC, UVA, ND, Ohio St., Penn St., Syracuse, Ivies.  It only needs State, Wisconsin, Stanford, Alabama and Florida to complete the collection. 

L'Carpetron Do…

May 15th, 2017 at 9:49 AM ^

So, after Round 1 of the NCAAs, coaching candidates look like this:

Still Alive and Stock Up: Nadelen; after Towson took down Penn State. Marr; Albany ran out to a huge lead vs def champs UNC but had to hold on for dear life at the end.  

Knocked Out: Petro; Hopkins got stomped by Duke (at home no less). Shay; Yale lost to Syracuse in a nailbiter, but overall good showing for Yale. Amplo; Marq hung around for a while but couldn't pull an upset over a good ND squad.

Still no leaks from the rumor mill but I imagine those have to be some of the dudes in the discussion.  Wonder how the search is developing.


Walter Rupp

May 15th, 2017 at 12:06 PM ^

Nadelen, presuming a strong interview with Manuel and connection to our Michigan team values and the student-athlete, this guy would seem to be a home run for our job. Towson is hardly a destination blue blood lax program, yet the guy has them closely competing with the heavyweights and often beating them-- see @ Denver in NCAA's last year.  And already in 2nd round of NCAA's this year.  He was part of 3 Princeton Ivy League Championship teams as an assistant under Bill Tierney (possible GOAT coach), and played the game at the highest levels (pro + national), including 4 at Johns Hopkins.  His wife is part of the Kineseology staff at Towson-- family would translate/transition well to Michigan.  

L'Carpetron, thanks for waving the lacrosse banner for the Mgoblog community!

L'Carpetron Do…

May 22nd, 2017 at 9:49 AM ^

Round 2 is in the books and the Final 4 is set: Ohio State, Towson, Denver and Maryland are the national semi-finalists.  Here's how the likely coaching candidates shook out:

Marr: After a weekend of upsets, I thought Albany would follow suit, but they got crushed by Maryland. I thought Albany came out flat and never recovered against the Terps, an excellent tournament team who live for this. Albany should've pulled their goalie sooner to stop Maryland's run. Terps were too big and athletic for them anyway so it may not have mattered. 

Nadelen: His stock keeps rising as Towson knocked off Syracuse, something few teams ever do in the tournament.  I wasn't sold on Towson at the beginning of the tournament but now they've beaten two strong teams.  Towson is  tough and blue collar and they usually have tons of Maryland public school kids who were overlooked by Maryland, Hopkins, etc. Towson gets Ohio State next weekend which could be a great game.

I didn't include Nick Myers in the original post but he's very impressive (but I don't consider him a candidate).  I really like the way Ohio State plays - they're smart and physical and not afraid of anyone. They took it straight to Duke, a team that always plays its best in May, and the final score made it look much closer than it was. Myers has the Buckeyes in the Final 4 for the first time ever and  its hard to stress how tough it is to break into that elite club.

In other news, I listened to an Inside Lacrosse podcast the other day that really talked up Towson's assistants Anthony Gilardi and Dan Cocchi for the Delaware job. Don't think they're a fit for Michigan necessarily but its interesting to see who the other programs are looking at. 


May 23rd, 2017 at 8:28 PM ^

Really great thread. Thanks for the write up to get the conversation started. Really thinking it should be a current head coach as opposed to someone that has not been and would need to figure out how to do that as well as build the program.

I was high on Andy Shay but Shawn Nedelen has me swayed. When you look at what he has done at Towson I think it is more impressive than what Shay has done at Yale. Nedelen has the credentials of playing at Hopkins his senior year under Petro and then coaching under Tierney. He has assistant coaches that you just mentioned for head coaching jobs so perhaps he knows how to find the assistants that make a program successful. And why hire one of the assistants if you can get the head coach?

I guess the difference might come down to whether it is harder to get the athletes into Yale than Towson and if that made a difference in their success. And as you mentioned knowing how to recruit the smart kids is a plus. Shay is a Lemoyne grad so I don't think he would head back to his alma mater over the Michigan job. I don't know if Nadelen is waiting for the Hopkins job. 

I think you are right about Marr and the recruiting. The first nation kids he has coming might be a challenge to get into Michigan. The other thing is that it doesn't take too much to find the disciplinary action that was taken against him by the NCAA for his behavior at the 1998 NCAA tournament game. Probably doesn't help. But it was a long time ago. 

So I think it's between Shay and Nadelen. I wonder who Warde Manuel is listening to for advice?


June 20th, 2017 at 3:18 PM ^

Collegecrosse website says multiple sources indicate Maryland Associate Head Coach Kevin Conry will named the new Michigan Lacrosse Coach.....

I guess Michiagn traded a football assistant for a lacrosse assistant......