â†µIt appears the new mid-major template is this: hire a coach who resigned in disgrace after massive NCAA violations came down on his program and ride that guy to the NCAA tournament. Watch previously disgraced coach morph into a feel-good redemption story, further proving that you could strangle a Care Bear and, as long as you win, someone will film a Hallmark â†µmovie about your life. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe poster child for this is Morgan State's Todd Bozeman, the former Cal coach who spent ten years in the wilderness after he admitted to paying a player $30,000 and was ordered to stay away from a Cal student who accused him of â†µsexually harassing her. Four years and two NCAA tourney bids later, however, Mike Wilbon is writing about how his buddy Bozeman deserves â†µa shot at a major job and the New York Times is declaring him an â†µ"embodiment â†µof fighting through adversity." It's pretty annoying to see â†µWilbon describe Bozeman as a "stud recruiter" without even â†µacknowledging the idea that thirty grand could make anyone a decent â†µrecruiter, but there it is. Win games and all is forgiven. â†µ
â†µNow UTEP and Houston are looking to jump on board the sketch bandwagon. UTEP's insane hire of Tim Floyd, a coach still under investigation as we speak, was crazy enough to make a Gregg Doyel column advocating the immediate firing of Floyd and his AD look positively reserved. Now the disease is spreading: If these reports are to be believed, Houston forced out Tom Penders, a coach who got them to their first tournament in forever, in favor of one James Dickey. â†µâ†µ
â†µDickey was an assistant at Texas Tech starting in 1990 and ascended to the head job in 1992. In 1997, Texas Tech was hit with massive NCAA penalties including nine lost scholarship and four years of probation; Dickey, unlike Bozeman, was never personally implicated and managed to escape with his job and without a show-cause order. The violations included vast numbers of ineligible players in multiple sports and saw a football assistant hit with a show-cause order. The university was tagged with the dreaded "lack of institutional control" charge. Before that Dickey was part of an NCAA â†µinvestigation into illegal â†µoutside competition when he was an assistant at Kentucky. â†µâ†µ
â†µWhile it's plausible that Dickey was not the motive force behind the â†µNCAA violations at Tech, it strains credulity to believe he wasn't aware â†µof and tacitly permitting them. Ask Michigan fans about Steve Fisher, â†µwho left the school in disgrace once the Ed Martin scandal broke, was â†µnot personally implicated, and became the paleolithic version of Bozeman â†µby landing at San Diego State and leading them to two NCAA tourneys. (If you're counting, that's one more than Michigan's managed since he's been at SDSU.) Fisher wasn't directly implicated, but one of his players was â†µdriving â†µaround an Explorer registered to an aunt in Detroit. If he didn't â†µknow, he didn't want to. â†µâ†µ
â†µSecond chances and all that, I guess, but it seems like some schools â†µare looking at sketchy pasts as a positive these days. How long â†µuntil Kelvin Sampson makes his triumphant return in the Missouri Valley â†µConference? â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.