Although I heard TCU rumors while I was still in Omaha, it wasn't exactly the school I imagined Christian would be heading to. I guess Daily Kent Stater Assistant Sports Editor Joe Harrington's column didn't appeal to him.
While I can understand why Jim Christian jumped ship, it still leaves me scratching my head.
He will be paid better, deal with better facilities and be able to get to the NCAA tournament easier (The Mountain West can get two, three and sometimes four bids in the dance).
Yet, will he be able to win? The Horned Frogs have never been known for basketball and gave its last coach six years to prove his worth and he did little. Christian will also have to deal with recruiting in a much tougher basketball area that Kansas, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and any other southern midwest team that has a better reputation has already sifted through. Its not impossible to win, but it seems an odd choice for an East coast guy. Another concern I have about Christian's choice also has to deal with recruiting.
The administration at TCU has preached about his program building ability and how he has developed players at Kent State yet when I look at his body of work I notice teams that were heavy on JUCO kids that were simply plugged in (Jae Youngblood, Omni Smith, AL Fisher, Haminn Quaintance, Rashad Woods and Julian Sullinger just to name a few) instead of four year players that were developed. Sure you can win faster with JUCOs, but Christian openly admits he never even saw Fisher or Smith play, he got lucky. Christian took over the Flashes the year after the Elite Eight run and has maintained the program. he didn't develop it, he simply kept it going. If he were as good at developing programs as TCU may think; Parks, Knight and McKee would have seen the court much more the past few seasons.
(On a side note, where does giving Parks and Knight a cup of coffee this season leave the team for the upcoming season at the forward positions? Not that either are great players, but both could be serviceable with more experience.)
Perhaps Christian developed a win now attitude to earn his way out of Kent and maybe he will actually settle down and develop players now. I guess time will tell on the truth of that.
When I look at Christian's decision to leave I feel as if he rushed out of here when a better job could have still been out there. Who knows what jobs will open up when Indiana fills its position. I am sure it will open another mid-major job. The same thing can be said with the Providence job. Yet, Christian is obviously more plugged in than I am about that.
Although I do wonder what Gary Watters thought when he jetted to Rutgers after building the Kent State program and was quickly shoved out the door after just a few seasons. He now coaches at Cleveland State. Or Stan Heath's thoughts as he parlayed the Elite Eight run (his only season at the helm of KSU) into a terrific job at Arkansas. A job he lasted at for just four years (Although he did have a winning record at 82-71). Heath is now at South Florida in rebuilding mode.
Last year Christian's resume was good enough for him to be in the running for nearly $900,000 a year to coach Utah (a job he barely missed out on). Does an even better season and another bad tournament loss, drop him to a fledgling program that he must rebuild? It almost seems like he was just desparate to get away from Kent State and the one-bid Mid-American Conference and we all know desparation is a stinky cologne.
I would love to hear what everyone thinks about the move. In fact, I have had some pretty good talks with a handful of other Kent beat writers throughout the day who have differing opinions on the matter. It is all pretty interesting banter.
I have really looked at it both ways. I can see how the move is beneficial for him as far as furthering his career (although I think he could of got a better job with a better chance to win) amd I can also see how it could be considered career suicide (Has TCU ever produced anything other than Ladainian Tomlinson?) So let me know what you think in the comments section.
Either way, I wish Jim the best and hope he can turn around the fledgling Frogs. Thanks for a good six years.
.... For anyone who missed the press conference, Christian said that he hopes his top assistant (Geno Ford) gets the Kent State job and he would like to bring atleast one assistant with him (presumably Eric Haut, but time will tell).