Monday, March 14, 2005

Get Him Out of Here

Gosh, people, don't be so surprised. Finney is hardly the first guy from Kentucky to see the bright lights of C-USA and blink. So we do what we always have- put them on plane and send'em home.

Well, I am big believer in Occam’s Razor- particularly when it portends to the Tulane athletic department. Finney’s departure is a perfect example. Faced with tales of secret contracts, the re-appearing ghost of Perry Clarke, Ricard playing the “four”, and parables of surreptitious ruthless cabals- I bravely focused- and merely centered myself on the Razor. I figured if it came down to clandestine blood tattoos or what I saw with my own eyes....

Look, Finney had to go. No one has any fundamental right to any six-figure job and then not perform at a high level. It is the real world. As Tulane alumni, we face that sort of pressure every day professionally- had we or Finney wanted security we would have gone to LSU and become All-State reps. I always thought people were getting to caught up in the minutia- and missing or ignoring the big picture: the team stinks, they normally cannot stay with fifteen points of conference foes, the building is as empty as Alex Box was after seven innings last week, and there is little to suggest it is getting better- and worse, no one cares. They could not find five league wins, and call me an optimist, but I think there is something to be gained from the C-USA season besides crushing beatings in front of sparse crowds.

But that is now over. I just wanted to repeat, be it picking the Wave against the spread (9-1 last year), or evaluating Forte and Ricard, it is wrong to question my trenchant analysis nine times out of ten.

All that being said- I was never down too much on the hoops program- as while Tulane athletics always faces a myriad of problems- the basketball program seems sort of fixable. For one thing, I think Tulane can be a little more aggressive, a little greedier, in their wish-lists. The Tulane football job stinks- but the basketball one is pretty good. Unlike the football team, a coach can recruit and consistently win here: the gym is fun when filled, New Orleans is a great place, Tulane is a neat school, we play in a decent league, etc. And you don’t need to pay $500K to get a name college coach. LaSalle almost hired Fran Dunphy- and the Explorers' situation is a disaster. Dougherty is talking to Tulsa. Bruiser Flint went to Drexel- what could they possibly be paying him? Phil Martelli does not make $250K/year at St. Joe’s. Pete Schirmer is available- but he’ll probably cost us. And so forth.

As I wrote before, to me, most of the problem is that the league grew up around Tulane real fast- and the Wave got caught sort of wrong-footed:

- again, the league got super good, elite-like, real quick.
- hiring the wrong guy- pretty clear at this point, right?
- being sort of behind in terms of arena, facilities, attendance, etc. as everyone else in C-USA exploded into this new level.

C-USA basketball has to be one of the great success stories in college sports over the past seven years, right? Tulane just kind of missed it. Not only did we not take a great leap forward- Tulane sort of fell back- and that made it look worse than it was.

Obviously, the league is coming back to them some- and the coach part has a good chance to be fixed- if just because they new guy cannot do much worse. That potentially fixes two of their big problems in one swoop.

Now, I must admit I look at these freshmen and don't get why they are so great- but I am hopeful a lot of my consternation is because it is hard to evaluate guys when everything is going so wrong. Just as you couldn't evaluate my pet Irvin off the Louisville game- because he never had a chance. And that might be true of some of these guys too.

But of all Tulane's problems, this basketball one seems most solvable. You can get good quick in college basketball- get one or two players from this group of freshman, one or two more next year, and they could win fourteen, and eight in our dumbed-down league, as soon as next year.