Tag Archives: college basketball

The Inexact Science of Finding A Coach

The coaching carousel is at full tilt this time of year.  The sports world is a vicious cycle of hirings and firings.  Now, the college basketball carousel is spinning fastest, but soon the NBA will pick up speed, followed by the NHL, college football, the NFL, and round and round we go.

At this very moment there are high profile basketball vacancies at Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, and Utah just to name a few.  Athletic Directors are faced with the delicate task of finding not just a good coach, but a coach who is the right fit within the program and within the university.  Choosing a coach wisely means wins, money, fan support, national prestige, and more TV time.  Making a poor choice means losses, fans in retreat, revenues in the red, and the possibility of setting the program back for years to come.  Not to mention how bad it makes the Athletic Director look when the guy he hired turns out to be a bust.

The process of finding the right man for the job is at best, an inexact science.  There is no secret formula, no perfect path to follow when on the hunt for someone who is going to become not only a head coach, but a very well compensated representative of your university.  So many factors can go into a coaching search, but here are the very basics when narrowing down that long list of possibilities.

Even with Pearl gone, Tennessee may continue to suffer the consequences of his actions. (courtesy marioncountymessenger.com)


Some might say winning is the most important thing and even trumps character.  However, the “win at all costs” mentality can be great for a while, but in the long run it can have devastating effects on a program.  Schools can overcome a couple of down years, but it takes much longer to overcome the public relations disaster brought on by a coach involved in a legal, sexual, or recruiting scandal.  Even if a coach avoids the police, the courtroom, and manages to keep himself out of incriminating Facebook photos, he can still take down a program by violating NCAA rules.  Just ask Indiana.  The once prolific Hoosiers aren’t competitive thanks to Kelvin Sampson’s NCAA transgressions.  Even though Tennessee fired Bruce Pearl, the Vols could be facing serious consequences thanks to Pearl’s lies and poor judgment.  Look at all the instances in the past where the coach had to deal with adversity.  How did he handle players who violated team policy?  Did he stick to his principles or did he lower his own standards in the name of winning?  Listen Athletic Directors of America, save yourself the embarrassment later by doing your research now.  Look at a coach’s past, examine his family life, check and triple check references, and make sure you have all the details on any and all run-ins with the NCAA.   Know what kind of man you’re getting from the very beginning and you limit the chances of an unpleasant surprise down the road.

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No Buzz For Basketball

If you still have a team alive in the NFL playoffs, you’re one of the lucky few.  For the rest of us, mid-January leaves an empty feeling.  College football season is officially over.  Just reading that last sentence out loud is almost enough to make my eyes wet.

So now we can turn our full attention to basketball.  Or can we?  I’m sorry, I just can’t do it.  I feel no buzz, no excitement, and no anticipation for hoops right now.  I don’t think I’m the only one.  In this state, no one is talking basketball.  Sure, the newspapers and local media will cover the games because they have to, but trust me, the fan bases of our state schools are not fired up.  There is far more interest in the next football season than there is in the current basketball season.

Part of that is simply the climate in our state.  Oklahoma is a football state, always has been, always will be.  Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of basketball tradition here.  Henry Iba, Eddie Sutton, Wayman Tisdale, Billy Tubbs, the Griffin brothers, Nolan Richardson, and countless others have contributed to the hoops history of Oklahoma.  But the truth is, no matter how many Final Fours the colleges rack up, and no matter how many dunks Kevin Durant throws down, basketball is never going to overtake football in the hearts and minds of Oklahomans.

Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon will both be back for another season in Stillwater (courtesy tulsaworld.com)

Part of the basketball apathy is due to the unbelievable success of football in 2010 and what could transpire in 2011.  OU is already one of the favorites to win a national championship, while OSU is getting its stars back and should start the season in the Top 10.  Tulsa finished in the Top 25 for the first time in nearly 20 years, and the search for a new head coach is dominating the headlines in this part of the state.  If there’s one constant in Oklahoma sports, it’s that it’s never too early to start talking football.

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