Well, Maryland finally found their man: Harvard head coach John Tillman interviewed for the Maryland men's lacrosse job yesterday, and now he's going to be named head coach, a report from InsideLacrosse says.
[Update by Ben Broman, 06/15/10 7:22 PM EDT - Lacrosse Magazine says that the deal is 7 years long. If that's what it took to get Tillman on board, then okay, but seems a little unnecessarily long for someone that's not a 100% sure thing.]
Tillman will replace Dave Cottle, who was at Maryland for the past several years and found regular season success but was forced to resign after repeated failures in the postseason. Ultimately, Cottle's reign at Maryland extended their title drought to a horrendous 36 years, and the hope is that Tillman can turn that around.
Tillman has been at Harvard since 2008, and has compiled a 20-19 record over his three seasons at the helm. Harvard seems like it should be an easy place to win at, but it isn't; they've had their fair share of struggles over the past several years. Tillman was a part of their best season of the decade, leading Harvard to 8 wins in 2009, which was their best total since 1999.
He improved Harvard's team across the board, seeing great leaps in offense (40th to 15th in 2008) and defense (42nd to 3rd in 2008) after just a few seasons. Those numbers come with a disclaimer, though: both dropped significantly last year, so they may have been a flash in the pan. He's most notable for his recruiting prowess, landing Jack Doyle from Gilman, InsideLacrosse's #2 player, in 2009 and three Under Armour All-Americans in 2010.
Before his time at Harvard, Tillman was head assistant coach at Navy for six years and a normal assistant for several years before that.
Tillman seems on the surface to be a quality hire, although there are the obvious concerns about not making the NCAA tournament in his three seasons and his surprising drop in quality after that successful 2009 year. Making the tournament shouldn't be a problem at Maryland - they've made it more or less consistently in the past several decades - but that doesn't preclude the possibility that the wrong guy could make Maryland miss. Regardless, this hire was made to win a championship, and that - not his number of tournament appearances - will be the stick by which Tillman is judged.
What's the most questionable thing is the surprising manner in which the interview process was conducted. Reports say that Kevin Corrigan, a potential lead candidate, was never contacted. Nor was Paul Cantabene or Scott Marr. Granted, three top candidates - Mike Pressler, Gary Gait, and Jeff Tambroni - withdrew their names from consideration, but I'm still surprised that Tillman jumped to the top so quickly.
But that doesn't matter now: he's Maryland's coach. Welcome to the family, John, and here's hoping you can bring a championship to College Park.