Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tad Boyle is your new CU men's basketball coach

You can read about it here and here. Essentially, I think this is a good hire. But I'd like to start off by saying that Steve McClain deserved the job. Beyond my fascination with the comedic possibilities that a coach who blows his shit on the sidelines can provide, Coach McClain earned the position. Besides a deep-seeded understanding of the area, he knows the program, and it's shortcomings, and was in a position to immediately step in with the respect of every player on the roster. The job should've been his. But, as in all things, it's not always the "right" choice that brings results.

With that out of the way, Tad Boyle makes sense. CU is not the glamorous type of situation where Mike Bohn could go out and poach an established coach to transform the program (the magic wand option). This is not necessarily a destination assignment (for a number of reasons, most of which I agree with... for now). So that leaves the search to current assistants (McClain), assistants at middle level programs (Dunlap), or head coaches of low-level programs (Boyle), with the occasional outside interest from splashy names with no real knowledge of the situation and who want to use the program as a launching pad (Randy Bennett). Of those four types of possibilities, I would lean towards what Bohn ended up with, the up and coming head coach of a low-level program.

(Tad makes sense.... I guess. From: UNC's website)

Everyone, by this point, has read Coach Boyle's resume, and began to get a feel for the turn-around he worked at Norther Colorado. From being the worst team in collegiate basketball 4 years ago, to competing for a tournament berth (while whupping all of your in-state competition, including CU in a now infamous closed door scrimmage) is quite a job. That Boyle was able to accomplish this is basketball talent-starved Colorado is even more impressive. Even more than that, he has the pedigree to match. Playing under Larry Brown, and working under personal fave Mark Turgeon, gives one quite the basketball education. He certainly has the credentials to be on the short list for a major step up, but it's the incidental factors that make him a good fit for the job.

(Boyle at Greeley Central in the '80s. Where'd the hair go, Coach? From: the Denver Post)

CU was looking for a coach who wants to coach in Boulder. The program will never improve if it changes coaches every 3-4 years. As long as there is marked improvement in the program, CU wants a coach who will be comfortable in Colorado for the better part of a decade. Tad, a Colorado native who grew up in Greeley, might just have that sort of mindset. He understands the minutia inherent in coaching CU basketball, and yet he still wanted to be here. He understand the Big 8 (XII) having played at KU, and knows how to recruit the region having been coached in Kansas and Colorado. On paper this hire makes a lot of sense. Add to that the fact that he and Mike Bohn have a friendly relationship, and Lord knows everyone should've seen this coming.

CU is a difficult place to play basketball. The program is starting off from a relatively low position, and to grow, it has to leapfrog traditional powers like Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Ok. State, along with other teams struggling to take their place in the higher echelon of collegiate basketball: Baylor, Texas Tech, Missouri, and Kansas St. At the end of the day, if it's going to grow as a program, CU will have to displace one, if not more, of those teams. In order to do that, CU will need a prolonged effort to improve both it's facilities (check), recruiting (kinda-check), and coaching (work-in-progress). I hope Tad really knows what he's about to get into. If he doesn't, his first trip back to Allen Fieldhouse should inform him.

A little bit of this is trying to convince myself that Boyle is the right hire. I like Mike Bohn on a personal level, but at some point one of his major programs is going to have to take a step forward. At least the hire was handled quickly and professionally (he had candidates in his office about a week after hearing Bz may leave, and a hire a week after Bz left). I want this to work (unlike some CU fans who grouse, loudly, at anyone who passes just so that they can scream, even louder, I told you so when they fail -- this is also a Broncos thing). I hope this will work. I noted earlier today in the grab bag that, should McClain have been retained, that I would spend the next few years wondering "what if" as Boyle continued his climb up the ranks. No more fantasy and "what if"; it's all reality and current events.

Good luck Coach Boyle! I'll see you in the fall.

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