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Basketball: Old Dominion takes it seriously.


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Part 2 in a continuing series on how our CUSA mates handle their basketball program...

Old Dominion has played Division 1 basketball for 37 seasons. In that time, they've made the NCAA tournament 11 times, the NIT 10 times, and they've gone to one of the lesser tournaments 3 times (I'd generally ignore or minimize those... But they actually won one of the lesser tournaments, which seems like it would be a pretty swell deal!).

37 years of basketball, 24 postseason appearances. The first time ODU had consecutive losing seasons in basketball wasn't until 2001. And when it finally happened, their coach quit in disgrace.

The replacement was Blaine Taylor.

Taylor was at Old Dominion for 11 full seasons. In 7 of those years, he won 22 or more games. He won 28 games once, 27 games twice, 25 games once, and 24 games twice. Seven times in 11 years, Taylor won as many or more games than we've won in a year in our entire basketball history. He made the NCAA tournament four times (with two victories). He made the NIT Final Four. He won the CIT. He became the winningest basketball coach in Old Dominion history.

Heading in to year 12, the 2012-13 season, Taylor had a record of 237-124 as Old Dominion's coach. He'd (allegedly) turned down other coaching opportunities in the Mountain West and ACC. He had 8 consecutive postseason appearances (averaging 24.3 wins per game during that span), more than any other team in his conference or his state. He had a contract that owed him almost $800,000 per year that ran through 2015.

22 games later, he was unemployed.

Old Dominion started 2-15. Wood Selig, their athletic director, said Taylor's job was "totally safe". Less than 3 weeks later, ODU hit 20 losses, and Selig fired him before the season was even over.

It was the first time ODU had lost 20 or more games in over 25 years, and only the second time in the school's D1 history. It was also Taylor's first losing season in a decade. And they didn't even let him stick around long to see the end of it.

Old Dominion took a proven winner and threw him out on his ass (with a $1.5 million buyout to cushion his landing) after ONE 20 loss season, despite a decade of unprecedented, sustained success.

They take basketball seriously there. They give a damn about the kind of coach and kind of man that is leading their program.

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Fun fact: The man who fired Taylor was Wood Selig. Previously employed as the Athletics Director at Western Kentucky.

Western Kentucky takes basketball super seriously, too. More on that next time.

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I know what you are doing. I endorse it. The problem is UNT doesn't care. If it fits the budget, it's ok.

What doesn't fit the budget is buying out 3 years of a terrible, terrible contract.

Carry on, I just think it will fall on very very very deaf ears.

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I know what you are doing. I endorse it. The problem is UNT doesn't care. If it fits the budget, it's ok.

What doesn't fit the budget is buying out 3 years of a terrible, terrible contract.

Carry on, I just think it will fall on very very very deaf ears.

Wait for Part 4. If they can afford to buy out $625k, we damn sure ought to be able to do $900k.

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I love your effort here, but you are looking at this from the wrong standpoint, unfortunately. See, most of us on gmg.com believe that employment decisions should be based on wins and losses, first and foremost. We see the cost of opportunity lost by staying on a sinking ship. But, at UNT, those decisions are made PURELY on known cost first. The other schools you mention love athletics as a primary window to their university, but we never have. Our primary focus at UNT is on music, fine arts, and education to be that WINDOW to the university--and it always has been.

To prove the point, in basketball, look at the past coaching moves we have made over the last 30 years: Johnny Jones, who was a great guy, was given 5 years here to get things going, even with a cumulative record well below .500. Of course, we know that he rewarded all of us by finally building a winner and made the NCAA tournament twice in his next 6 seasons, but, again, at WKU or ODU, he would have never even made it beyond year 3. Just to be clear, from what JJ had to build back up from, he deserved the extra couple of years he got from us. And, although I wish he was still here, I think LSU made a great hire for them and that JJ got what he truly deserved in the end by getting the chance to go home to coach his alma mater.

Before, JJ, we gave Vic Trilli a 4th year, after he had amassed a whopping 16 wins in the three seasons prior against 63 losses. He rewarded us with a 4-24 record that included 1 win in the Sun Belt Conference that season. But guess what?? We SAVED MONEY by not canning him in Year 3!! We showed everyone who was really a great value!!! While that huge money waster Western Kentucky was actually going 14-2 and winning the SBC in 2001, we probably ranked super high that year in Costs Contained by the AD rankings!! I bet WKU really fell off after that season, though, since they wasted so much money on their basketball program...(sarcasm inserted for those not getting it yet).

Before the Trilli Monster got here, we hired a very bright up-and-comer as our head coach, Tim Jankovich. He came from Okie State as an assistant under Eddie Sutton. In his first three years, he finished above .500 each year, and we made the SLC championship game twice, only to lose both times. In his fourth year, as we moved up to the Big West Conference, he suffered his first losing season. As he was about to enter his 5th year as the coach, our AD, Craig Helwig decided that the best way to fund the athletic department was by whoring out our money making programs to bodybag games on the road. Jankovich, to his credit, recoginzed this was an impossible way to go at UNT, so he resigned, letting Craig Helwig hire a naive recruiter off of UTs staff who actually believed we could duplicate what UT had done under Penders. That worked out well.

Before Jankovich, we had Jimmy Gales, who coached here from 1986-1993. He was a high school coach beore we got him here. In his second season, we finished 17-13, won the SLC tourney bid and played UNC in the opening round game as a 15 seed. No doubt, it was a great water mark here and he got an extension for making the tournament, which he should have. However, he duplicated that record one more time, going 17-13 again in 1991. Entering his second to last season at UNT, with just two years left on his contract, he would lead our program to a 15-14 season, meaning that in his 6 seasons as our coach, we went 79-97. Most places would have made an employment decision by this point, especially with their coach entereing his last year of his contract, both for stability in recruiting and with the fanbase. IOW, most places would have fished or cut bait by this point--but not here. We decided we would make a coach who had coached for 6 seasons with a NCAA Tournament appearance but also had a losing record, coach a last year of a contract so we wouldn't have to buyout that last year. He would either earn an extension or let his contract expire. We made a great Cost Containment decision, but unfortunately our record that year was 5-21, so Jimmy Gales' contract expired and we moved on to Coach Jankovich.

We can go on and on with this--and undoubtedly include football with the Dodge error being the major proof anyone needs for Cost Containment being the primary way we make decisions at this university. Hell, look at facilities. Even Apogee only got built when Fouts became so outdated and decrepit that something had to get done or football here would have to be dropped or lowered down again, since the amount of generators required to supply that dump with enough energy to have it support a game was getting to be too much. And schools like Texas State and UTSA have bigger student fees for athletics than we have, even though we are older and bigger than they are. But, again, it comes down to Value and Cost Containment with athletic spending. We do it very well. These other schools mentioned, they don't look at athletic spending the same way--mostly because they use revenue sports as the window to their schools. We decided long ago that we don't want to do that. Therefore, when anyone posts about Benford getting fired after his first two years on the job and having 3 more years to go, it would be the EXACT OPPOSITE of what UNT has historically done to fire him with multiple years left on his contract. And, more importantly, a huge buyout like that would require a deep look in the mirror at who hired Benford and who didn't get hired instead. That means the AD would have to get looked at closely by the BOR. But the BOR looked at the job RV has done, after hiring Todd Dodge, Shanice Stephens, and Tony Benford in the three money sports, and decided that not only has RV done a great job in their eyes, he deserved an EXTENSION. And that should tell everyone just how much we want to spend on revenue sports at this place.

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You forgot that Apigee was mainly a STUDENT accomplishment, not an accomplishment that can be credited to the UNT administration (who most, I'm sure, fainted with shock when the student fee actual won in a student vote).

You also forgot the UNT administration's complete failure to defend what the students had decided in the state legislature, allowing the fee to be set to expire once Apogee is paid for. Dallas Lee should have lost his job over this. He didn't. Because deep down, successful athletics doesn't make the top 50 in the BOR's priority list.

Otherwise, a great history for the younger fans to read. Hopefully this makes the youngsters realize why so many of us "old" folk are so realistic when it comes to What UNT is willing to put into athletics.

Edited by UNT90
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The "justification" at UNT is a two-way street. Have to stay within the budget because, even though better than before, the money going into Athletics via donations, season tickets, etc. isn't all that high when compared to most D-1 schools. On the other hand...that might just be because the people who maybe, possibly, kinda thought about donating...don't think we take it seriously enough. Is it the chicken or the egg? Do we have to stick to the budget because we don't have many high-rolling donors? Or do we have so few big donors because we're so concerned about the budget that we don't make big choices?

When you have a University that purposefully disenfranchised alumni donations for so long, it takes some time to get things right. I have faith that we're moving in the right direction, but we wouldn't be in this spot if NTSU had pushed away alumni involvement so much back in the day (yes, NTSU, as in, that's when it was happening). Now that UNT (post-NTSU) grads are getting, and remaining, active, we've seen the beginnings of a shift but it's not an instantaneous one.

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  • 9 months later...

BTW.. Jimmy Gales won back to back conference championships, and was one game away from going back to the dance when we lost to McNeese in the post season tourney championship at the Super Pit.

Those were two great years I feel very fortunate to have been in school for.

Rick

We almost made the Dance the following year as well...with like 6 wins. Got hot and made the SLC Final after a crappy season. Can't recall who we lost to though.

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The "justification" at UNT is a two-way street. Have to stay within the budget because, even though better than before, the money going into Athletics via donations, season tickets, etc. isn't all that high when compared to most D-1 schools. On the other hand...that might just be because the people who maybe, possibly, kinda thought about donating...don't think we take it seriously enough. Is it the chicken or the egg? Do we have to stick to the budget because we don't have many high-rolling donors? Or do we have so few big donors because we're so concerned about the budget that we don't make big choices?

When you have a University that purposefully disenfranchised alumni donations for so long, it takes some time to get things right. I have faith that we're moving in the right direction, but we wouldn't be in this spot if NTSU had pushed away alumni involvement so much back in the day (yes, NTSU, as in, that's when it was happening). Now that UNT (post-NTSU) grads are getting, and remaining, active, we've seen the beginnings of a shift but it's not an instantaneous one.

I was close to posting the same thing. In short the money never showed up. If you want to be big time you have to pay up and we don't because we can't. You can blame the administration for being terrible fundraisers though as much as they have stayed on me I am not sure I would agree. You can blame the alumni for not caring. You can realize that on a relative basis ole North Texas just does not have that many big money alumni and even less that care. The big money has never shown up and without it we are done.

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I love your effort here, but you are looking at this from the wrong standpoint, unfortunately. See, most of us on gmg.com believe that employment decisions should be based on wins and losses, first and foremost. We see the cost of opportunity lost by staying on a sinking ship. But, at UNT, those decisions are made PURELY on known cost first. The other schools you mention love athletics as a primary window to their university, but we never have. Our primary focus at UNT is on music, fine arts, and education to be that WINDOW to the university--and it always has been.

To prove the point, in basketball, look at the past coaching moves we have made over the last 30 years: Johnny Jones, who was a great guy, was given 5 years here to get things going, even with a cumulative record well below .500. Of course, we know that he rewarded all of us by finally building a winner and made the NCAA tournament twice in his next 6 seasons, but, again, at WKU or ODU, he would have never even made it beyond year 3. Just to be clear, from what JJ had to build back up from, he deserved the extra couple of years he got from us. And, although I wish he was still here, I think LSU made a great hire for them and that JJ got what he truly deserved in the end by getting the chance to go home to coach his alma mater.

Before, JJ, we gave Vic Trilli a 4th year, after he had amassed a whopping 16 wins in the three seasons prior against 63 losses. He rewarded us with a 4-24 record that included 1 win in the Sun Belt Conference that season. But guess what?? We SAVED MONEY by not canning him in Year 3!! We showed everyone who was really a great value!!! While that huge money waster Western Kentucky was actually going 14-2 and winning the SBC in 2001, we probably ranked super high that year in Costs Contained by the AD rankings!! I bet WKU really fell off after that season, though, since they wasted so much money on their basketball program...(sarcasm inserted for those not getting it yet).

Before the Trilli Monster got here, we hired a very bright up-and-comer as our head coach, Tim Jankovich. He came from Okie State as an assistant under Eddie Sutton. In his first three years, he finished above .500 each year, and we made the SLC championship game twice, only to lose both times. In his fourth year, as we moved up to the Big West Conference, he suffered his first losing season. As he was about to enter his 5th year as the coach, our AD, Craig Helwig decided that the best way to fund the athletic department was by whoring out our money making programs to bodybag games on the road. Jankovich, to his credit, recoginzed this was an impossible way to go at UNT, so he resigned, letting Craig Helwig hire a naive recruiter off of UTs staff who actually believed we could duplicate what UT had done under Penders. That worked out well.

Before Jankovich, we had Jimmy Gales, who coached here from 1986-1993. He was a high school coach beore we got him here. In his second season, we finished 17-13, won the SLC tourney bid and played UNC in the opening round game as a 15 seed. No doubt, it was a great water mark here and he got an extension for making the tournament, which he should have. However, he duplicated that record one more time, going 17-13 again in 1991. Entering his second to last season at UNT, with just two years left on his contract, he would lead our program to a 15-14 season, meaning that in his 6 seasons as our coach, we went 79-97. Most places would have made an employment decision by this point, especially with their coach entereing his last year of his contract, both for stability in recruiting and with the fanbase. IOW, most places would have fished or cut bait by this point--but not here. We decided we would make a coach who had coached for 6 seasons with a NCAA Tournament appearance but also had a losing record, coach a last year of a contract so we wouldn't have to buyout that last year. He would either earn an extension or let his contract expire. We made a great Cost Containment decision, but unfortunately our record that year was 5-21, so Jimmy Gales' contract expired and we moved on to Coach Jankovich.

We can go on and on with this--and undoubtedly include football with the Dodge error being the major proof anyone needs for Cost Containment being the primary way we make decisions at this university. Hell, look at facilities. Even Apogee only got built when Fouts became so outdated and decrepit that something had to get done or football here would have to be dropped or lowered down again, since the amount of generators required to supply that dump with enough energy to have it support a game was getting to be too much. And schools like Texas State and UTSA have bigger student fees for athletics than we have, even though we are older and bigger than they are. But, again, it comes down to Value and Cost Containment with athletic spending. We do it very well. These other schools mentioned, they don't look at athletic spending the same way--mostly because they use revenue sports as the window to their schools. We decided long ago that we don't want to do that. Therefore, when anyone posts about Benford getting fired after his first two years on the job and having 3 more years to go, it would be the EXACT OPPOSITE of what UNT has historically done to fire him with multiple years left on his contract. And, more importantly, a huge buyout like that would require a deep look in the mirror at who hired Benford and who didn't get hired instead. That means the AD would have to get looked at closely by the BOR. But the BOR looked at the job RV has done, after hiring Todd Dodge, Shanice Stephens, and Tony Benford in the three money sports, and decided that not only has RV done a great job in their eyes, he deserved an EXTENSION. And that should tell everyone just how much we want to spend on revenue sports at this place.

I don't think this is an accurate analysis of what has happened historically at UNT. I think it's pretty clear that UNT ADs have historically looked at MORE things than just wins and losses. Just about every coach that we've allowed to stick around even though the win/loss record wasn't great was grading out fairly high in recruiting, securing interest and donations from bigger donors, getting grades up and various other things important to the school and AD. From the outside, it appears that Benford is an exception---but at the same time, we've managed to add and/or upgrade basketball facilities at an unprecedented level. I'm not an insider so I have no idea if that is directly related to his efforts working with donors or someone else's.

Having said that, I was right along with everyone in year 1 of Benford....he clearly was not ready to be HC at UNT. It was very frustrating to watch our team reach the heights it reached, lose the coach who built the program, and then hand the job off to someone who clearly needed several years of on the job training to get up to speed. As bad as that first year's disappointment was, it's going to be hard to fire a coach that stays around .500 (whether or not scheduling helps him achieve that). He's going to have to pull a Dickey and seriously piss off the donors, AD, and/or BOR/Pres or he'll be here for the length of his contract.

Edited by TIgreen01
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