After just two seemingly tumultuous seasons, Cincinnati Basketball has parted ways with John Brannen as head coach. A graduate of Marshall, Brannen served as an assistant coach at several schools, including under Anthony Grant at VCU and Alabama.
He even briefly served as interim head coach for the Crimson Tide following Grant’s dismissal. Prior to the Bearcats, he spent four years as head coach at nearby Northern Kentucky, leading the Norse to the first two NCAA Tournament appearances in program history.
Brannen arrived at Cincinnati in 2019, inheriting a pretty solid program that Mick Cronin had left behind for the West Coast. The program had made nine straight NCAA Tournament appearances, though Brannen likely would have led them to a tenth before the 2020 NCAA Tournament was cancelled. In that first season, the Bearcats tied for the AAC regular-season crown and won 20 games. In his second season, Cincinnati was just 12-11, a middle-of-the-pack team in a disappointing year for the AAC.
What cost Brannen his job wasn’t the lack of success on the court. The Cincinnati athletics program recently conducted a review into the program and determined that he wasn’t fit to continue as the coach. There have apparently been rough interactions between him and some of the players and his relationship with Athletic Director John Cunningham has been distant and frosty. Even though it was just a two-year stint, Cincinnati is choosing to move forward and start anew.
With what we know about the situation, it’s probably a good thing that the Bearcats are hunting for a new head coach, especially with many of the players already in the transfer portal. Just two years removed from their last head coaching search, it’ll be interesting to see in which direction Cunningham goes. The available candidates for the position will have slightly changed, but some of those names from two seasons ago will pop up again.
Cincinnati has a rich history of winning culture and even in recent years has emerged as one of the AAC’s best programs. If the right coach can be brought in to clean up Brannen’s mess, then this program can go back to winning conference titles in the near future again. We’ll be looking closely at a few solid names for the job, though the list won’t be all-encompassing. Let’s just get right into the candidates.