Wyoming's ex-coach Heath Schroyer may hold the dubious distinction of being the first coach let go in the 2011 firing/hiring cycle, having been terminated nearly three weeks ago, but the cycle kicked off in earnest this weekend as two more coaches, both from low major conference programs, were fired or resigned under duress. Schroyer's fate was largely sealed in 2010 when his Cowboy squad stepped back from their 19-14 record of 2009 that included a post season appearance in the CBI tournament. The 2010 squad finished with a 10-21 record and Schroyer had to hear the (not so quiet?) whispers from a fan-base that was not especially happy that he was the hire that replaced Steve McClain in 2007. Employing Dan Hanner's adjusted net efficiency comparison to Wyoming under Schroyer and under Schroyer's predecessor, Steve McClain (over McClain's last four seasons -- that is all the data available at Ken Pomeroy's web site), Schroyer's regime was largely a failure. Hired in the aftermath of McClain's termination for cause (the coach failed to graduate enough players to avoid NCAA sanctions), Wyoming fans believed Schroyer, who had a previous relationship with Wyoming AD Tom Burman, was not the best available candidate. If he was not a fan favorite in 2007, his track record in Laramie through February 2011, did not win over any fence sitters...
Though Steve McClain coached at Wyoming from 1998-99 through 2006-07, Ken Pomeroy's records go back to only 2003-04 season. The Wyoming post Schroyer fan-base openly pines for Billy Clyde Gillispie, cast-off by the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Second In Season Termination
Steton's Derek Waugh was offered another job in the Athletic Department as part of an agreement to not return to the bench next season. He coached the last two weeks of the season after the announcement, finishing his tenure on a high note with a 70-62 win over Jacksonville. The Stetson graduate who originally left a law practice to join the Stetson staff as an assistant coach, logged a 121-192 record over a 10 year head coaching career.
It's Lefty's Fault...
Dan Hanner's notion that mid major schools tend to be more patient with coaches seems to be tested by Georgia State's handling of Rod Barnes. Neither Barnes nor his predecessor Michael Perry managed to earn an NCAA invitation for the Colonial Athletic Association school, and neither had a run that lasted more than five years at the Atlanta, Georgia-based school. Barnes could claim a Pyhrrhic victory of sorts in that his net efficiency (adjusted) is 0.3 better than Perry.
Apparently that was not good enough to retain the veteran coach who was terminated after the Panthers' last game, a 58-65 loss to George Mason on Sunday. Barnes, despite having a five year contract and having addressed the Panthers' academic problems, was fired because "...The won-loss record simply does not reflect where we want to be for Georgia State men’s basketball...We felt it was in the best interest of the program to make this change now and begin moving forward immediately." according to Athletic Director Cheryl Levick. What accounts for that very unmid major-like set of expectations from Levick? Lefty Dreisell's five-plus year tenure with the Panthers may hold the key. The well traveled coach moved over to GSU from James Madison in 1997-98 and delivered four first place finishes in his five full seasons at GSU. He took the Panthers to the post season twice during his run, once to the NCAA and once to the NIT. Dreisell, flamboyant yet successful everywhere he coached, posted a 103-59 record over his five-plus tenure with the Panthers. Neither of the two coaches to follow have posted a winning record with the school, nor made it to the post season. Has the legendary coach set a standard too high for his successors? Maybe it's the culture of the school, the Panthers have had 10 different coaches over the 37 years the school has fielded a Division 1 men's program.
Monmouth's Dave Calloway, another veteran coach popular with the locals, struggled through five consecutive losing seasons at this Monmouth County New Jersey school, but stepped down by request the day after the Hawks finished their season (with a loss to Sacred Heart). Calloway, who led Monmouth to the NCAAs three times over the course of his 14 year career could not overcome the 48-105 record accumulated over the last five seasons; a record that included missing the NEC Tournament for the second season running.
By the Numbers
The termination side of the cycle will kick up as the conference tournaments wind down. As those programs least likely to participate in the post season assess the past season pink slips will begin to circulate in earnest. The number of terminations by Selection Sunday can provide a very rough estimate of the total number in this cycle. Over the past four off seasons, between 26% and 42% of the vacancies were opened before the NCAA field was seeded. Multiply the job openings on Selection Sunday (wait until Monday, there may be a few slipped inconspicuously into the news cycle on Saturday and Sunday) by two, and you should have a sense of the floor for this off season job market.