Dave Leitao Has to be Running Out of Time at DePaul

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DePaul Blue Demons head coach Dave Leitao had a strong advocate in former Athletic Director  Jean Lenti Ponsetto, who gave him a contract extension last April, on her way out the door. While this shocked many at the time, JLP had actually announced that this way in the works the previous September.

Despite his 19-71 Big East record over the past five years entering this season and a NCAA suspension for unspecified violations last year (for which the program is still currently on probation), the embattled coach was granted an extension that runs until 2024.

Last night, the Blue Demons fell 57-47 at home to a very mediocre Providence squad. Yes, they mustered just 47 points against a side that is uninspiring to say the least, and it dropped DePaul’s record to 3-9 on the season, 1-9 in the Big East. So Leitao is now 20-80 in league play during his second stint in Lincoln Park/Downtown Chicago. His overall record is 64-107.

Sitting dead last in the league, and sporting an ugly NET ranking of 185, the Demons will now hit the road for three straight, capping their road trip with a visit to #19 Creighton. So while the bottom has dropped out, again, at DPU, things might get worse still.

DeWayne Peevy came in as the new AD this spring, after spending 12 years as an Associate A.D/Main A.D. for men’s basketball at Kentucky. New regimes typically mean coaching changes, and Leitao’s contract has no buyout, making it very easy for Peevy to bring in his own guy if he wants to.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at why this may or may not be the end for Dave Leitao

Why Dave Leitao Could Stay

It is highly unlikely a move gets made before the season ends, but anything can happen. COVID-19 has utterly rocked the entire college basketball world, but DePaul have truly been hit by it much harder than most. It’s possible that he gets a mulligan year, on account of the pandemic, but then again maybe this season is that one final chance, on account of the pandemic?

The world of lockdown, quarantine and travel restrictions makes it harder to accomplish a regime change, but the situation in this country is expected to improve greatly this spring. Leitao also signed a highly rated recruiting class, and there is hope that next year’s team should be a lot better.

Last year’s squad started out very promising, with a 12-1 record during non-conference play (with good wins over Iowa, Texas Tech and Minnesota) that saw them the cusp of being nationally ranked.

Then DePaul regressed back into DePaul and went 3-15 in Big East play.

Leitao keeps finishing last and the school keeps retaining him, so it’s not a given he’ll be sacked. Under JLP, the standards we’re extremely low.

She literally gave the team a pep talks and congratulated them on the deep run they made in the CBI a couple years ago. Ponsetto told them it was the best thing the program had accomplished in a long time.

Sadly, she was right, winning a few games in a tournament that is literally pay to play and that next to nobody cares about is actually the high water mark of the DPU program in the 2010s.

Why Dave Leitao Could be Let Go

Peevy comes from the bluest blood of all the blue blood programs where success is measured in Final Fours and National Championships. His standards are on a completely different solar system than Ponsetto’s and that’s a very good thing.

This incessant losing severe irrelevance can’t be tolerated under his watch. While the Blue Demons have a fine, state of the art arena, they aren’t drawing people to it. (We’re talking about pre-COVID times, when fans were allowed).

Attendance has been very poor for a long time, and it’s hard to see that improving until they start winning and given the track record of the current head coach, it’s difficult to envision that happening any time soon.

Leitao has done a good job brinigng talent to his program, especially in the transfer market, but he hasn’t been able to do anything with it. There is no reason to believe things will get that much better with the next round of recruits that have high star rankings on recruiting websites.

It’s also painfully obvious to anyone paying attention that Leitao’s teams underperform and don’t realize their potential. This year, just like last year, they don’t like a team that’s really going all out, giving 110% for their coach. And if the team really isn’t truly motivated, then that falls on the person who is in charge of motivating them- head coach Dave Leitao.

It’s possible he gets another season still, but it would be very shocking if that’s the case. It’s a pretty easy decision for Peevy to make at this point.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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  1. keep sharing your views and thoughts…thank you

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