The most prestigious job in college swimming will become vacant within the next six months.
With Friday’s news that the legendary Eddie Reese is stepping aside as the head coach of the University of Texas men following the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, it’s time to begin the speculation of who will take his place and attempt the impossible task of filling the 15-time NCAA champion’s shoes.
When Reese announced his retirement in 2021, which he rescinded just months later, there was a prevailing sentiment that the top candidates for his successor would be two men well-known within the Texas swimming community: Reese’s longtime running mate Wyatt Collins, and his former swimmer and Texas legend Brendan Hansen.
That remains the case more than two years later, to a certain degree, though there is no shortage of candidates for this job.
When a head coaching or general manager position opens for the Yankees or the Lakers, nobody is off the table, and that’s very much the case here.
THE TEXAS TRIO
- Wyatt Collins, University of Texas men’s associate head coach – Collins is coming up on a decade with the program at Texas, having started his tenure as a volunteer assistant in 2013-14. He was then promoted to full-time assistant after Kris Kubik‘s retirement in 2016, and then in 2021, Collins was elevated to associate head coach. Austin is the only place Collins has coached collegiately, but he’s been by Reese’s side through tremendous success over the past decade and will certainly be considered for the job.
- Carol Capitani, University of Texas women’s head coach – Capitani has guided the Texas women’s team to a ton of success in recent years, with the Longhorns coming off back-to-back runner-up finishes at the NCAA Championships and six straight seasons finishing 6th or better at nationals. This rise helped land Capitani the head coaching role for the United States women’s team at the 2023 World Championships, and you’d have to imagine she’d be in the running considering the Longhorn women are projected to outpace the men’s team at NCAAs for the second straight season. However, Texas seemingly won’t want to have a combined-gender program, given its resources, so it seems like a long shot.
- Brendan Hansen, USA Swimming Director of Team Servies – Hansen has no collegiate coaching experience, though he did find success at the club level during a four-year run with the Austin Swim Club from 2014 until 2018. He resigned from that position due to differing opinions on the direction of the team with the owners, and now works with USA Swimming. A six-time Olympic medalist and 13-time NCAA champion with Texas, Hansen would receive a lot of support from the Longhorn alumni, and it’s not as though it’s uncommon (in pro sports) for former athletes to land major coaching positions without much experience.
CURRENT NCAA HEAD COACHES
- Braden Holloway, NC State University head coach – Holloway has been a staple as the head coach at NC State since 2011, and he’s built the program from the ground up to become one of the best in the country each and every year. Holloway is an NC State alum, and the school is set to get a new pool. Given his family ties to the area, the fact that NC State is his program, and the addition of a new pool, it might be hard to lure him away, but you never know.
- Todd DeSorbo, University of Virginia head coach – Given the evolving success he’s been finding at UVA, it’s hard to imagine DeSorbo leaving the Cavs, especially given the athletes he currently has under his watch and their potential on the international scene. But with the salary bump he would see at Texas, it’s not out of the question.
- Greg Meehan, Stanford University women’s head coach – Meehan has come under scrutiny in recent seasons for the lack of development and improvement some of his swimmers have had at Stanford, but he did serve as an Olympic head coach just two years ago. More importantly, he really made his name while serving as an associate head coach with the men’s team at Cal, helping the Bears win national titles in 2011 and 2012.
- Chase Kreitler, University of Pittsburgh head coach – Kreitler is only one season into his role as the head coach at Pitt, but he did spend two seasons as a volunteer assistant at Texas under Reese from 2016 to 2018. However, given that Kreitler was also working under Collins at the time, there might not be much upside in giving Kreitler the head job over Collins from Texas’ perspective.
- Sergio Lopez, Virginia Tech head coach – During his incredibly successful time with the Bolles School Sharks from 2007 to 2014, Lopez was very much regarded as the man who could replace Reese when he retired. He’s a big name who’s had success at the college, club, and international levels, and he’s not U.S.-born, which has long been a point of pride for Texas. He’s currently coaching his son, Cobi Lopez Miro, at Virginia Tech, but he’ll be graduating at the end of the season, which means he no longer would have that tie to the program. However, he did recently receive a contract extension through 2028 that grants him a lot of control.
When a highly sought-after position such as this one is up, with the wallets and prestige that Texas has, nobody is off limits, regardless of what they might say.
Would Texas consider someone who has never been a head coach in the NCAA other than Collins or Hansen? If so, we should also consider Herbie Behm, who has done an extraordinary job as the sprint coach at Arizona State working under Bob Bowman, and was in the mix for the Michigan job.
We’ve tried to compile a list of candidates that makes the most sense, but in reality, we could have just printed a list of every coach in the country.