If you missed it over the weekend, four years of trying to fix TCU basketball was enough for Jim Christian. He is returning the MAC to take the Ohio University job. (Prior to taking the TCU job, Christian was head coach of Kent State.)
Just as TCU would be moving up to the Big 12 — and a higher profile — Christian would rather take a pay cut and step down in prestige. He wasn’t on the hot seat, by most accounts. The team finished 7-7 in the MWC, 18-15 overall. And when you consider how bad TCU was, that Christian only went 38-58 in the first 3 seasons, he was making progress.
Well, this post from a Dallas paper details the reasons. Low pay scale for coaches and assistants, outdated facilities with no clear timeline for when they would be upgraded, no real commitment to improving facilities without improvement on the court (which is a chicken or egg situation), and simply not being committed to being a legit basketball program.
And of course, after all that, let’s take a run at alumni Jamie Dixon.
If TCU is looking to make a splash with this hire and “win” the press conference, the Pitt head coach would do it. But this is not going to be easy, even if the timing may never be better. It will also not be cheap.
Dixon is obviously a quality coach who has won a lot of games in college basketball’s hardest league. Pitt would be stupid to just let him walk because of one bad season, but given how rapidly the temperatures change at these jobs, TCU would not stupid not to make the phone call.
The “timing” in question is Pitt having a down year, and the writer apparently looked on message boards to see Pitt fans complaining. Always a solid barometer of judging a situation. You know, because fans and message boards are not at all emotional to the moment and reactionary. Calm reasoned discussions are the norm after a disappointing season.
Now, I do agree with the final bit. TCU has to at least make the call. Just as there is no harm in listening to offers, there is no harm in asking. Ken Pomeroy of Basketball Prospectus had a piece talking about the hiring of Jim Groce at his alma mater — Illinois. He touched on the howls of anger from Illini fans for who they didn’t get.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas first approached Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens about the job, and was rebuffed by both men. (See if I ask Stevens to write another Foreword. I’m kidding.) When you’re rebuffed by coaches and your search stretches into its third week, you are ritually accused of incompetence. But where the sole dispositive competence is getting one of these two coaches to say “yes” to coming to Champaign, we are all equally “incompetent.” True incompetence would have been running a coaching search in 2012 and not approaching Smart and Stevens with a sack full of money.
To be fair, there are other reasons to consider Thomas’ job in looking to replace Weber as incompetent. The point, though, is you have to take a shot. Ideally, it isn’t dragged out, but since Butler was playing in the CBI last week they did have to wait for him to be asked — and say no.
Jamie Dixon isn’t going anywhere. Least of all to TCU.