Thursday April 1, 2010

Today is April Fool's Day, but the only people being fooled are college basketball coaches and those who want to be college basketball coaches.

That's because the 2009-10 season isn't even over yet, and the merry-go-round for college coaches is spinning at warp speed. The victims are your friendly, neighborhood coaches.

Within our radius, we have seen two coaches fired and one resign.

Within hours of each other on Tuesday, Boston College fired Al Skinner and Holy Cross fired Sean Kearney. That's a lot of pink-slipping in New England for one day.

While I disagree, I can understand BC's jettisoning of Skinner. Kearney, well, that's another story.

Sure, Holy Cross only won nine games this season with a team that was expected to contend for the Patriot League title. Underachieving would be a kind thing to say about Kearney's first team. But how do you fire a guy after one year?

"At the end of the day, after assessing the results and evaluating what our prospects were for the future, we felt this was a move we had to make," Holy Cross athletic director Richard Regan said in a statement.

Thanks for coming, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

If one year was the determining factor, Travis Ford would never have taken the University of Massachusetts to the NIT championship game three years ago, and Derek Kellogg would have been out the door after his first year.


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Which leads to Al Skinner. I guess 13 seasons and the winningest coach in Boston College basketball history doesn't get you a 14th year.

If Regan were the AD at BC, Skinner might have been gone after one or two years. The member of the UMass Athletics Hall of Fame was 15-16, 6-21 and 11-19 in his first three years at The Heights. But in the next 10 years, he had eight records of over .500 and seven of them involved 20-plus win seasons.

But the Eagles were under .500 in two of the last three seasons. BC's 15-16 record this year included some bad losses to Harvard and Maine, and a couple of pretty good wins in an otherwise mediocre campaign.

But what of Pat Duquette, Bonzie Colson, Mo Cassara and the rest of the BC staff? They're the collateral damage in the change.

According to Wednesday's Boston Globe, BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo is going to let the staff go to the Final Four this weekend in Indianapolis to look for jobs, and continue to pay them.

Duquette, who is the interim head coach at BC, is keeping an eye on the players and the recruits for next year. He has been in the mix for several Division I jobs in the past few years, but has always said he's looking for a place where he has the potential to win.

Holy Cross, where he wasn't a finalist last year, could be one. Siena could be another one -- as the Saints are looking to replace Fran McCaffery. Some other mid-major coach will move up, and that could open up another job.

Maybe Skinner wasn't everybody's cup of tea. He's not the most charismatic coach. But the Eagles have won a lot of games, a large majority of the BC players graduate, and they play competitive basketball in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

So DeFilippo is off looking for a coach who can win in the ACC, energize the fan base in a pro sports town, and recruit McDonald's All-Americans. Good luck with that.

Oh, and UMass fans need to settle down and relax. A quick read of the UMasshoops.com site has more people than you'd believe calling on UMass AD John McCutcheon to ditch Kellogg and hire Skinner.

The idea that after two seasons, McCutcheon would fire one UMass alum for another is ludicrous.

The idea that some UMass fans have already jumped off the bandwagon is a joke. That's not to say Derek Kellogg will be another John Calipari, or even another Bruiser Flint. The second-year coach is still learning his job.

These fans always think the grass is greener on the other side.

Sometimes, athletic directors do too.

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6253.