It has been less than a week since Micah Shrewsberry departed Penn State for Notre Dame, but it appears that AD Patrick Kraft could be closing in on a replacement. Over the weekend, Jeff Goodman confirmed speculation that Penn State met with Mike Rhoades on Sunday.
VCU’s Mike Rhoades meeting with Penn State today, source told @Stadium.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) March 26, 2023
Rhoades has strong ties to the area. Played at Lebanon Valley.
Rhoades loves VCU, but A-10 was one-bid league and Big Ten got 8 teams in tourney.
I say speculation because the Rhoades/Penn State chatter picked up in a legitimate way when David Jones of PennLive reported that the Nittany Lions had been in contact with Rhoades’ agent. Now, that isn’t all too surprising given Rhoades’ success at VCU and the fact that he’s originally from Mahanoy City, PA. There was going to be some form of communication between the two parties, even if it was just a feeler.
The Rhoades smoke got a little bit heavier late Saturday night though when I saw that there was a chartered Wheels Up plane from Richmond that flew into State College around 11:30 a.m. that morning and left back for Richmond a little after 6:00 p.m. that night. As I pondered on Twitter...
Why would someone fly from Richmond to State College for 5.5 hours earlier today? pic.twitter.com/VGyjjUdDSD— Poerbler (@Poerbler) March 26, 2023
As it turns out, that flight *likely* had to do with Rhoades and Penn State, because on Sunday morning, one of Penn State’s private planes departed for — you guessed it — Richmond, VA. The plane stayed in Richmond for about three hours before leaving for Allentown, where Patrick Kraft was watching Penn State’s hockey team.
As always during coaching searches, it needs to be said that ~things are fluid~ but back-to-back days of meetings and using the university plane (which they know can be tracked) certainly points to Rhoades being a serious, serious candidate for the job.
All in all, Rhoades would be a respected, logical hire by Penn State. He’s originally from PA, and worked his way up Shaka Smart’s VCU coaching staff. He took over at Rice — which hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1970 — and won 23 games in his third season. He returned to VCU, and has kept the Rams as the premier program in the Atlantic 10, going to the NCAA tournament three times during his six seasons.
We can save the super deep-dive for Rhoades’ strengths and weaknesses if this ends up becoming official, but I really just come back to the word “logical.” Even if you preferred someone more offensive-minded (see: myself), it doesn’t take away from the fact that this would be a normal, obvious hire for a Penn State program that has mostly been anything but.
And really, more than anything, it would signal the shift a lot of us hoped to see: that Penn State wasn’t going to be cheap. The reported $4 million offer for Shrewsberry wouldn’t just be a fart gone in the wind, but instead would be the working number for the next coach. With Rhoades making somewhere in the $2 million range at VCU, I think it’s safe to assume he’d be making $3+ million in Happy Valley. That’s a welcomed sign of progress.