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Injuries did not cost Tony Benford his job – losing did


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You know that weird feeling in your stomach when you know something isn’t right?

Everything might seem okay

Turns out, that was only the beginning of one of the worst campaigns in program history.

Plagued by injuries, turnovers and poor offensive execution, the Mean Green finished the year 8-22 and said goodbye to head coach Tony Benford last weekend.

I really do feel bad for Benford. He is an outstanding man. He took the time to get to know me this season, and I always enjoyed our chats in his office before and after interviews.

Sadly, kindness does not win basketball games.

Over the course of his five-year tenure, that was a recurring theme. Benford could never win the games that mattered. His teams, for whatever reason, always seemed to stumble, even when it looked like they were set up for success.

Like this year.

When this season began, Benford knew he had to win to save his job. The theme of the preseason press conference was “win now.” With a majority of his roster back, Benford thought he would have all the necessary puzzle pieces to string it together. He knew he had a preseason all-conference selection and a McDonald’s All-American ready to suit up for him.

Then injuries came in and flipped the table, sending those same puzzle pieces flying.

And while the injuries are unfortunate, Benford has no one to blame but himself. He put himself in this situation. In five years, none of his teams finished above the .500 mark. The Mean Green won only one conference tournament game under Benford and were a dismal 62-95 from 2012-2017.

Over the years, Benford was given plenty of chances to make things work. But after five years with no real signs of progression on the court, the writing was on the wall.

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