If a coach falls but the athletic director doesn't praise him, did the coach make a sound? This Old Dominion-y take on an age-old question applies perfectly to the curious manner in which Blaine Taylor was dismissed from the ODU program today. We take a look at what was (and wasn't) said about the illustrious Monarchs coach.
"As the athletic director at Old Dominion University, my primary responsibility is to our student athletes, and our intercollegiate athletic programs. As such, I am always going to try to base any decisions on those two guiding principles. After a comprehensive review of the men's basketball program, and with the support of President John Broderick, I am relieving Blaine Taylor of his duties as Old Dominion University's head men's basketball coach, effective immediately."
If we are to take Wood Selig absolutely literally (which, when a statement is released, we are) then they are firing Taylor to benefit the two guiding principles of Old Dominion Athletics: student athletes and intercollegiate athletic programs, or in this case, a singular program.
So firing the winningest head coach in school history in his first losing season since his first ever at the school is benefiting the athletes and the program? It's a curious way to word it, but apparently they are so displeased with Taylor that they think it's time to move in a new direction for the first time in a decade. If it makes you wonder why, allow him to explain:
"This decision is not based solely on wins and losses, but on a number of factors by which a head coach is evaluated. At this point, in regard to our head men's basketball coach, our student athletes need mentorship, leadership and guidance. Our fans and alumni need encouragement. Our administration needs confidence in our leadership."
So it is clear that something changed over the last few weeks to change the opinion of the administration based on this comment. You don't take the all-time winningest coach in the history of the program and then toss him away for a 2-20 season, because you have seen him do it before. You especially don't do that heading into Conference USA. Maybe it has something to do with his very odd appearance on a local radio station, or maybe it was something more recent, or a recurring pattern of activity of which the radio hit was just a part of.
Bottom line, somewhere the administration lost confidence in Taylor's ability to lead this team, and get the kids in who will make an impact.
"Effective today, I have appointed Associate Head Coach Jim Corrigan as the interim head coach through the remainder of the season. Jim has been with the program 18 years, and I have great confidence in Jim's ability to guide the team the rest of the year."
Corrigan makes perfect sense as the interim due to his extended tenure with the Monarchs; when you've been involved in the program for six more years than the (former) head coach, it's only expected. However, what's less clear moving forward is what the school intends to do in terms of retaining Corrigan past the end of the season. His continued dedication to the school over nearly two decades will make him a pretty decent candidate, but it may rely on how the team finishes out the season.
Don't forget: although this season has been brutally ugly, this is the Old Dominion men's basketball head coaching position. Everybody's going to want this job.
"We are not giving up on our student athletes or the program. Today's announcement is about addressing the present and the future needs of our men's basketball program. We want to make the most of our remaining eight games and put our student athletes in position for success."
President John Broderick: "Um, can somebody please tell him that we're 2-20? We are most certainly giving up on the remaining eight games."
"I want to thank Blaine and his family for everything they have contributed to Old Dominion University over the past 11 years. Blaine's student athletes have always shown great character and tremendous heart. They have enjoyed considerable athletic and academic success. They have gone on to become productive citizens in their communities following their graduation from the University. In those regards, Blaine has led a model program - all of which has made for a difficult decision today. But as previously stated, my primary focus is our student athletes and the future of our men's basketball program."
I like this part in that Selig is giving Taylor some credit for the work that he did prior to this season and all the phenomenal success he had over the last decade.
However, what's interesting here is that he goes out of his way to avoid directly complimenting Taylor himself. He praises Taylor not for his skill, nor his character (can't say that's extremely surprising), nor his direct impact on the players.
Taylor was the winningest coach in school history; led them to CAA titles and the NCAA Tournament numerous times, and yet not a word was breathed of the coach's fantastic record with the program. In fact, in this section, Selig was almost painfully obvious in avoiding any direct compliments of Taylor.
So when he says that "[his] primary focus is our student athletes and the future of our men's basketball program," it's very clear that this is true. Selig has expressed little to no remorse about the decision throughout the statement to this point. He had a chance to redeem himself in this paragraph, yet he came across even more snide and ready to move on that ever before.
Maybe it really is what the program needs. But Selig could've been a little more heartfelt about it.
"As this is an institutional personnel issue, I cannot comment further, and I trust you will respect that position. "
Oh, it totally makes sense that you gathered us all here to listen to your statement in person (the exact same one that appeared on the athletics website) and then refused to comment. In fact, it's not even that you refused to comment. You walked off the stage before anybody asked any questions.
I guess we have to respect that position, ladies gentleman.