Friday, May 28, 2010

Symptomatic of Mediocrity

My father sent this article as part of a taunting missive about a month ago demanding that Frank Helps You Think It All Out comment. Surely, it is depressing- as depressing as the straits the Tulane baseball team has fallen into. Really, they are Shooter Hunt away from four years of irrelevancy. But I wrote about that last year, feel no need to repeat it exactly word for word again this year.

Back to the article- relevant excerpt here:
Patrick Swilling Jr. had choices - in sports and colleges. He could have chosen football or basketball. He chose basketball. He could have chosen Tulane, UTEP, LSU or Mississippi . The son of former New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl linebacker Pat Swilling chose Saint Joseph's.

The Hawks were very late players to the Swilling sweepstakes, but their pitch won out. So Swilling, a 6-3, 210-pound guard from Brother Martin in New Orleans, whose body type resembles that of Villanova great Randy Foye, will be joining a freshman class of four that could swell some more.

"The coaches, the school, the academics, the campus, the new facility," Pat Swilling said of what convinced his son. "We got a great feel for what coach Phil Martelli is trying to do as far as getting them back to when they had Delonte West and Jameer Nelson." After the team lost 20 games last season, that seems a ways off. The road back, however, has to start somewhere. And, by all accounts, the Hawks have assembled a terrific recruiting class.

Patrick Swilling was attracting serious football interest as a linebacker. He is such a good athlete that he played cornerback for the football team last year. But the success of the basketball team this season convinced him to play hoops.
Great, right? Now what convinced this kid to pick up and go a zillion miles from home to another leafy, urban campus that will make him behave and go to school?

The arena? Nope, Hagan Arena is just like Fogelman- an aging 4000 seat gym that underwent some renovations. St. Joesph’s probably spends ten percent of what Tulane does in athletics (admittedly due to football)- but the Hawks are resource constrained of the first magnitude.

Answer: the Hawks hit on the right coach. Proof: he lured away young Swilling right away from the low risk, inexpensive non-entity Tulane hired. Pick a coach with no juice, you lose out to a coach with said juice.

It is only anecdotal evidence- but it is evidence. And you will see this story about Coach Conroy from mighty Citadel again and again.

Thus the lesson for the Tulane community: given the option between spending zillions on infrastructure or a couple million in order to "buy" a coach a step up from what Tulane deserves on merit, I choose the latter option. Unfortunately, in this test- Coach Conroy is found wanting right away.

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