As always, the coaching deck gets shuffled

May 20, 2013 - 2:16pm
Kevin McGuff was introduced as the new head coach of Ohio State on April 16th. (Photo courtesy of OSU Athletics)

Kevin McGuff was introduced as the new head coach of Ohio State on April 16th. (Photo courtesy of OSU Athletics)

It looks like the coaching carousel has stopped spinning (though one never knows), and out of the many, many moves that were made, here are a few that stood out.

And with what many consider the most important season of all just around the corner -- that would be summer recruiting -- all the newcomers, not just the ones mentioned here, must hit the ground texting with both thumbs. Everybody’s smarter with better players, and this is when coaches can impress those better players.

Kevin McGuff (now at Ohio State):

After a brief stop in the Pac-12, McGuff heads back to his stomping grounds, the Midwest -- and his new West Coast connections will probably wind up funneling even more talent from west to east. That’s good for some schools, but it’s bad for the sport. For women’s basketball to grow, it needs to have a stronger presence on the Pacific coast, and McGuff’s departure can only be seen as weakening that presence, not strengthening it. Then again, Ohio State was a little tired of those early tournament exits, and the Buckeyes aren't too worried about the national balance of power.

Kristy Curry (now at Alabama)

Did she jump or was she pushed? Curry didn't exactly set the world on fire at Texas Tech after moving there from Purdue, and 2013-14 was to be the last year of her contract -- and it was widely speculated that if that contract had wound up this year, Curry would have been gone. Curry, of course, could read the writing on the wall, but did it really say "Take a job at an SEC bottomfeeder that takes gymanstics a lot more seriously than women's basketball"? Alabama is years away from reaching the level of the middle of the SEC back, and challenging teams like Tennessee and Texas A&M will take more years than there are on Curry's contract. But at least it doesn't run out next year ... and this is a move in the right direction for a program that hasn't seen a winning record in conference play for eternity.

Jim Foster (now at Chattanooga)

There are a couple ways to look at this. First, Foster just loves to coach, and he can enjoy coaching, and life, much more away from the Ohio State pressure cooker. The Chattanooga program is stable and there's talent enough to compete, so why not take the job? Second, Foster wants to ease into retirement, picking up a few more years of six-figure income without having to strain himself too much. His reputation will buy him a few years, and that's all he's really interested in. My feeling is that option one is the more likely, but even if it is, this may prove to be a tougher job than Foster expects.

Cynthia Cooper (now at USC):

One Cooper replaces another at USC, but there’s reason to believe Cynthia will be a major step up from Michael, who has proven at several stops that he’s just not up to the task. Cynthia Cooper’s storied career is lost in the mists of antiquity to today’s recruits, but her high-energy personality and record of mid-major success means that UCLA now has a challenger in Southern California.

Suzie McConnell-Serio (now at Pittsburgh):

As long as McConnell-Serio doesn’t trade Katie Smith for Chandi Jones, as she did with the Minnesota Lynx, she is primed to succeed in Pittsburgh. She’s coached high school there (at Oakland Catholic), and with her WNBA and Duquesne experience, she’s definitely prepared herself for the Panthers.

Sheryl Swoopes (at Loyola of Chicago):

Swoopes was never Miss Congeniality, which makes this hire look a little suspicious. Swoopes has no coaching experience, and her only qualification seems to be her exceptional achievements on the court. Still, Loyola should be given credit for rolling the dice on Swoopes, if only because she’s openly gay, but this is still definitely a long shot to succeed.

Cindy Stein (now at Southern Illinois):

Stein was a .500 coach, basically, at Missouri, so it’s hard to see how the slide to mid-major status is going to suddenly result in the Salukis getting 20 wins a year. But there is something to be said for experience, and it's possible she and Foster will both shine at the lower level.

Beth Burns (now nowhere):

The biggest mystery ride on the coaching carousel, Burns abruptly left San Diego State, where she had had two very successful runs. But she also bombed out at Ohio State, so it will take a gutsy athletic director to bring her on board at this point.