Free of charge, I’ll offer up one standard rule of thumb for any college director of athletics whose duties include hiring and firing coaches.
If you hire a coach away from another school that’s not the least bit sorry to see them gone, then you’ve probably made the wrong hire.
That’s why Pitt’s decision to hire Kevin Stallings two years ago after Jamie Dixon bolted for his alma mater of TCU never made a lick of sense to me.
I’m not all that up on Vanderbilt sports, but I did have the distinct impression that, outside of Stallings’ immediate family, there weren’t more than a half-dozen Commodore fans shedding any tears when Pitt poached him away. If I’m reading that wrong, I invite any Vandy folks to set me straight.
Stallings was at Vandy for 17 seasons, during which time he won 332 and lost 201. But it was his 138-142 mark against the SEC teams he was hired to compete against that eased any pain over his departure from Music City, USA.
Yeah, I know he made the NCAA Tournament seven times in those 17 seasons, but only once over his final four. He was also 56 years old and had, to my mind, shown pretty much everything he could do.
His highly unprepossessing two-year run at Pitt, again, to my mind, confirmed my suspicions. And today, Heather Lyke, the director of athletics at Pitt, confirmed that Stallings’ 24-41 record (4-32 against ACC competition) at the convergence of the Alleghany, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers was unacceptable.
It was, from all reports, unacceptable enough that Lyke and Pitt remain on the hook for a $10 million buyout owned to Stallings.
Unacceptable, to me, has always been a confusing word. Over my 25 years covering Wake athletics, I heard it used countless times to describe the performance of a team, player or coach.
I’ve heard it with increasing frequency over the past eight seasons of Deacon basketball.
And yet if the director of athletics and those he leans upon don’t do what is needed to change the course of events, aren’t they accepting just what has been deemed unacceptable?
Danny Manning, in his four years as head coach at Wake Forest, is 54-72 overall and 20-52 in ACC play. That’s an improvement over the records (51-76 and 17-51) his predecessor Jeff Bzdelik rang up over four years, only if you want to call it that.
Is a .278 winning percentage over four season against ACC competition acceptable at Wake? And if so, who is it acceptable to?
Over the next month or so we’ll all find out, and we’ll find out together.