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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

College Hoops Coaching Carousel

Good article from an Oregon paper about the (up until this point futile) search for a replacement for Ernie Kent at Oregon.

Good comment from Coach K about his view that Brad Stevens should stay put at Butler because it's a school he believes in whose values he respects. Many coaches who get tempted by big offers from greener pastures should take note of Coach K's comments. The reason: they'll end up doing to you what they did to the guy you replaced if you don't win and get to the tournament or Sweet 16 with some frequency and rather quickly. The landscape of collegiate coaching is littered with the carcasses of once-proud coaches who for some reason didn't make it at the next level, including Stevens' predecessor, Todd Lickliter, who achieved great results at Butler only to fail to replicate that success at Iowa.

They say that second marriages are the triumph of hope over experience. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that there are no second acts in American life. How do we reconcile those comments? What makes one coach succeed at the next level (say Bill Self) and another (Lickliter) not? And, by the way, there are many more Lickliters out there than Selfs. The Darwinism of the collegiate coaching game dictates that -- there are only so many coaches who can get their teams to the Sweet 16 year after year. If there are 340 Division I men's hoops teams, it stands to reason that many who seek to climb to the top of the mountain will not make it.

But that doesn't mean that they can't do well at Robert Morris, Butler, Cornell and places like that -- and for a long while, too. Oregon seems to want to throw a lot of money around for a big-name coach, but that's a risky proposition. It's hard to know whether that guy will rest on his laurels, adjust to life on the West Coast and adjust to life at a football school. It may be that they should be searching for a more low-key hire, someone well-recommended by the titans of the coaching game, and someone who is young, hungry and a riser, a modern-day version of Coach K when he had about a .500 record at Army and moved to Duke upon the strong recommendation of Bob Knight. Oregon would be better served to find that guy.

There are many good coaches out there. The trick for the biggest-name programs is to find the right guy and not just the biggest name.


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