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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Something in the NYC/NJ Water Supply Re College Hoops

Put differently, there have been lots of coaching changes.

St. John's.

Seton Hall.



Iona (coached moved to Seton Hall).

Hofstra (coached moved to Fordham).

St. Benedict's (coach moved to Wagner; just kidding. St. Benedict's isn't a DI program (yet) --it's a high school).

And now, Rutgers, according to ESPN.

Rutgers whiffed on Jay Wright years ago when Wright left Hofstra for Villanova. They hired Gary Walters from the MAC (Kent State), he failed, and they hired who they thought was the next best thing -- Fred Hill, Wright's top assistant and chief recruiter at Villanova, who enjoys great ties with high school coaches in the NYC/NJ area and helped land some great recruiting classes for 'Nova. Atop that, Hill is the son of Rutgers' longtime baseball coach, Fred Hill, Sr.

But great recruiters don't always make great head coaches, and Rutgers has struggled, well, since it went to the Final Four in 1976 (that's an overexaggeration, but they're still looking for the next Phil Sellers, with apologies to James Bailey and Roy Hinson). Hill hasn't worked out great, and that statement could have been made before his alleged outburst at a Rutgers' baseball game last week, in which he apparently lashed out at the umpires and at Pitt's head coach. That led to an investigation which led to the stalement in buyout talks with Hill.

The reason is pure economics. ESPN's Dana O'Neil reports that Hill will be let go, but the question is money. Rutgers offered Hill $600,000; the full value of his contract is $1.8 million. Hill has the upper hand for now; he has no incentive to make the deal (okay, so if he acts too obstreperously he'll jeopardize his chance to get another job, which, in a very forgiving country, means that he's damaged his trademark for about 6 months). The quicker Rutgers acts the better the chance it will have to keep a few players who might be looking to transfer and to solidify a recruiting class. Otherwise, the Scarlet Knights will risk relegation to the Northeast Athletic Conference, where they might have a chance to contend with Robert Morris and Quinnipiac.

Look for Rutgers to cut a deal with Hill this week. Among the reported candidates is Fran Fraschilla, who had an inglorious exit from St. John's more than half a decade ago and who apparently has rehabilitated his trademark through his work on ESPN, all the while maintaining his contacts in New York and New Jersey. Temple's Fran Dunphy gets mentioned, but he has a good gig going in a city that adores him, and while North Broad Street might not be anyone's version of Valhalla, concrete Piscataway bears little resemblance to a hoops hotbed either. If Rutgers were to go with Fraschilla, they'd be copying St. John's, which took the other available ESPN analyst, Steve Lavin (that's assuming, of course, that Dick Vitale isn't interested in making a comeback).

Here are some other names that Rutgers should consider:

St. Joe's Phil Martelli (again -- they might have even pursued him after the Hawks made their run to the Eastern finals several years ago);

The 76ers' Eddie Jordan (a solid coach amidst a bunch of goofballs and misfits with the 76ers; he played on the '76 Final Four team -- he was the starting point guard);

Temple's Matt Langel (he's assisted Dunphy for years and, in his early thirties, he has to be an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks).

As best I can tell, the coaching jobs at Manhattan, LIU-Brooklyn, St. Peter's, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Rider and Princeton aren't in jeopardy, but it's been an amazing year in the NYC area in terms of coaching turnover.


Blogger Michael said...

Well considering all the colleges have been struggling the coaching changes aren't surprising.

Are we looking at a structural problem? Outside of Rutgers, these are all small, non-BCS schools, so they'll have limited resources to begin with. Then you have the schools all in close proximity to each other.

And no matter how well the players do, they'll always be an afterthought where the pro game dominates and there's no dominate alumni association. If you go to Iowa/Kentucky/North Carolina/Oklahoma and play reasonably well you can make a nice career out there as a salesman. Everybody's a fan.

3:21 PM  

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