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Monday, December 14, 2009

Wow Factor: Penn Fires Men's B-Ball Coach Glen Miller

The Quakers are 0-7, having just lost at Monmouth.

Former Penn star and first-year assistant Jerome Allen is the acting head coach.

Phew! This is really hard to believe. This is one of the most storied programs in the history of college basketball, even if the Ivies can't compete with teams from other conferences the way they used to as recently as 10-15 years ago. Penn's home court, the Palestra, is one of the meccas of college basketball, a great place to watch a game in or play one in. And now, about 25% of the way into the season, they have decided to part company with Miller, with whom they never seemed to be comfortable and who didn't seem all that comfortable at Penn.

But then again, is it easy to replace a legend like Fran Dunphy? Alabama tried hard during the 25 years after Bear Bryant's death to replace him, hired some popular names, but for some reason none of those coaches -- including some good ones who played for Coach Bryant -- succeeded. With Nick Saban, the Tide's fans can safely say that they have replaced Coach Bryant, one of the coaching legends of college football.

Dunphy doesn't rise to that status, but he's one of the best coaches in Penn's history, in Big Five history and in Ivy history. And, from all accounts, he's a great guy. That's a hard act to follow, even for a successful coach like Miller, who excelled at Division III Connecticut College and at Brown University. But now he's gone, Penn is struggling, and a rookie coach is going to try to pick up the pieces.

Among my early favorites to succeed Miller on a full-time basis -- former Penn player Matt Langel, a long-time Dunphy assistant, now at Temple. Allen might also get a serious look if the team improves on his watch during the remainder of the season.

This is a sad day for Penn basketball, for a whole host of reasons.