Thursday, April 08, 2010

Thowing My Hands Up

I sort of throw up my hands at the selection of Ed Conroy as the next men’s basketball coach at Tulane. I mean, if you want proof positive that Tulane ain’t investing in Division I basketball success- here you go. You don’t build a multi-million dollar arena commitment around this sort of coach. I mean, that sort of expenditure can't be allowed to fail because of Ed Conroy?

Isn’t he just such a Tulane hire? Like Coach Toledo, he is so safe, so vanilla- a guy who will spend five years being real, real grateful for the opportunity- real satisfied to make a decent wage, content with the culture of 6-10 conference records. Coach Conroy isn’t ever going to raise any real stink about anything. He will be so happy to be here.

I understand Tulane’s normal aversion to challenging coaches. First, with athletics hanging on around here by a thread, the athletic department can’t afford any embarrassing screw ups or routine bad ink. Second, success in football is so problematic, it is difficult to justify any coaching risk because the resultant reward feels impossible to obtain no matter who is calling the shots. Third, even if they were to cash in the gamble, a mouthy coach who brought success, what does it really get the university? What tangible item has Rice or SMU’s recent success brought to justify potential craziness?

But in basketball, I would make an exception because I think success is obtainable- and such success would bring tangible rewards to the community. I remember the early 90s-there was real juice and civic “follow along” in Tulane basketball. This can be done and is worth doing- so if Tulane has to pick a spot to plow an extra few hundred grand in athletics, basketball is where I’d do it. Football is a lost cause in the current larger NCAA environment, baseball is too small and the other sports, while worthwhile human endeavors, just aren’t nationally relevant enough.

Ed isn’t that guy- the guy to justify spending the extra dollars and effort, the guy who gives you the maximum chance of success to justify risk.

As to the facts on the ground, well, Tulane needs an upgrade in talent. I was hoping for a coach who either proved he could recruit the local geography (spare me any talk of chasing a quality national recruiting class) or proved he could bring in the occasional all-Conference USA from anywhere. Frankly, this guy brings neither. Who is his tenure at Citadel would be all C-USA? Worse, there are guys out there who would take this job who would bring one or the other.

No doubt in five years we’ll all be reading here on Frank Helps You Think It All Out that Coach Conroy was a great human being who coached a lot of classy young men to seven win conference seasons. There is merit in graduating classy players- but don’t tell me Tulane is moving forward.

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