After the Mick Cronin extension, most of the feedback was positive. For anybody who reads this blog -- or even read my past blogs at CNati -- knows, I've always been a proponent of Cronin as the coach of this team.
The job he's done here has been and likely will always be underrated. Not only for wins and losses or turning around a gutted program, but the cleaning up of off-court transgressions and academic standards.
Yet, after the extension was announced some negative feedback showed up on Facebook, Twitter and other outlets.
Maybe I'm too close to properly understand where people are coming from here, but what could the issue possibly be anymore? The guy beat Hall of Fame coaches, doing so with less talent for years, and when finally able to build the talent level back up, ended up in the upper half of the league.
Ask South Florida, Rutgers, DePaul, Providence and Seton Hall about the difficulty of that climb.
Older players matured, younger players improved, UC returned to the NCAA tournament and is set up to make a deeper run next season. I heard some say we shouldn't be excited about an "average season." You know how many times since 1994 under Bob Huggins UC won more than one game in the NCAA tournament? Two (1996, 2001).
So, call this season where UC was still working on a rebuild "average" all you want, I'm not sure what you are comparing it to.
--- For some comparison, I would like to take a look at all the coaches from major conference schools that were hired five years ago along with Mick Cronin and analyze how they performed.
Coach/School OvrRecord NCAAs 2011Record Status
Herb Sendek/Arizona St. 88-73 1 12-18 Coach
Mick Cronin/Cincinnati 87-76 1 26-9 Coach
Kelvin Sampson/Indiana 43-15 1 --- Fired (NCAA violations)
Greg McDermott/Iowa State 59-68 0 --- Fired (4 seasons)
Bob Huggins/Kansas State 23-12 0 --- WVU
Andy Kennedy/Mississippi 105-64 0 20-14 Coach
Mike Anderson/Mizzou 111-57 3 23-11 Arkansas
Sidney Lowe/NC State 86-78 0 15-16 Fired (5 seasons)
Doc Sadler/Nebraska 89-70 0 19-13 Coach
Jeff Capel/Oklahoma 96-69 2 14-18 Fired
Sean Sutton/Oklahoma St. 39-29 0 --- Resigned (2 seasons)
Fred Hill/Rutgers 47-77 0 --- Fired (4 seasons)
Bobby Gonzalez/Seton Hall 66-59 0 --- Fired (4 seasons)
--- How do you feel about the hire now?
Of 13 major conference coaches hired in 2006:
FOUR are still coaching at the schools that hired them.
TWO were promoted or chose to leave (Huggins/Anderson).
SEVEN were fired or resigned.
TWO have been to more NCAA tournaments than Cronin.
NONE had a better record at the school which hired them this season.
ONE was in the tournament with the team that hired them this season. That would Anderson at Missouri, which UC beat in the first round before the coach bolted for greener pastures.
--- Take those numbers into further consideration. If you asked ANY college basketball expert which of these jobs offered the situation most conducive to winning at the time, likely all of them would place Cincinnati last on that list. You know the story, no scholarship players, living in the Big East, etc, etc.
--- Now, all of these coaches weren't fired/resigned for on-court reasons. There was text-happy Sampson, pressure-packed Sean Sutton and legitimately insane Bobby Gonzalez. But, guess what, as I believe most you know (or maybe you don't and that's why you have time to read this blog every day), getting along and working effectively with your bosses/surroundings represents a significant part of your job description.
--- What did you desire when Cronin was hired? Winning? Loyalty? Playing by the rules? NCAA tournaments?
Find me a better combination of these among this group. You can't.
Now, please, please, please, stop any complaining about this extension. And if you hear somebody questioning it, forward them the link to this blog.
--- As AD Mike Thomas told Bill Koch in his piece from today's Enquirer, extending and giving a $350,000 raise to Cronin was the right thing to do.
--- Moving on....The basketball banquet is tonight. I'll have a full report on who won what awards and who cleaned up the buffet in tomorrow's Breakfast.
The Oscar Robertson Award (Team MVP) may be a tough riddle to solve considering the depth and distribution of play this year, but I'd expect Rashad Bishop to walk way with the award. For a team built on defense, Bishop became the catalyst. Games like his 44-minute lockdown against Providence and Marshon Brooks, as well as offensive breakouts like he had against UConn in the tournament come to mind. Yet, his leadership and willingness to take the big shot, accept the big assignment, probably meant as much as any bucket or steal.
Imagine reading that last paragraph exactly one year ago.
Just a fantastic turnaround for Bishop.
--- Gary Parrish placed UC No. 18 for next season in his way-too-early Top 25.
--- Tommy G spoke with RBs coach Jahmile Addae after practice Tuesday. Addae talked about Isaiah Pead in his senior year, Darrin Williams' return to health and instantly snapped off the name George Winn upon being asked about a player sticking out for significant improvement.
Don't forget, top recruit Jameel Poteat will add to the mix come June. It would be a serious upset if he didn't end up in the rotation somewhere next season.
--- Also, an interview with co-DC/LBs/Recruiting coordinator John Jancek. Some more talk about Dwight Jackson and Nick Temple adjusting to UC.
--- After spending some time out at spring practice yesterday, I can attest to a few facts:
The defense has made significant strides (story coming soon in that area).
The competition level is through the roof (or bubble, more fittingly) for spring ball.
--- Some chippiness broke out as the final scrimmage took place on Tuesday, both in extra-curricular fisticuffs in blocking on the outside and playfully taunting celebrations following the defense's victory.
Regardless, it's clear the coaches have done a great job of creating a pressure-filled, competitive enviornment.
"We want to compete and challenge each other within the team concept," Butch Jones said. "I like the competitive spirit. I like the intensity in practice. I like our leadership right now. I like our demeanor."
--- As Jahmile Addae and Tim Banks point out in this video on hitting and intensity from Butch Jones blog, the philosophy of the coaches is it's better to say "whoa, whoa, whoa" rather than "sic 'em, sic 'em, sic 'em." No doubt that's been the case this spring.
--- Favorite moment: After throwing an interception and watching a linebacker sprint toward the end zone with the pick, Zach Collaros, wearing the untouchable red jersey, grabbed a hold of the LB and slammed him to the ground out of bounds near the edge of the bubble.
I guess the red jersey doesn't work both ways.
--- On to some randomness....
--- Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins owns about 500 percent more fans than a week ago. They are mostly 18-24-year-old males. Another is Lil Wayne.
--- Do I want to know more about Jerry Seinfeld's sneakers from his show? Absolutely.
--- I love lists. And Iove mockumentaries. A list of the top 17 mockumentaries lobs a softball in my wheelhouse. Although, I think Best in Show would have been my No. 1.
--- To be honest, I enjoyed some Oasis, but this Onion headline still cracks me up.
--- I'm a big fan of random, wierd comedy. But this serenading unicorn video with Sarah Silverman toes the line between wierd and dysfunctional.