A Call For Change

Bill Carmody has improved the ‘Cats basketball program, but after 13 seasons, it is time for a change in leadership.  Additionally, it is time to upgrade the investment in the basketball program.

Let the debate begin.  Should Northwestern retain Bill Carmody or let him go? That is the question everyone in purple will be discussing during this year’s Big Ten Tournament.  The answer will come from Northwestern VP of Athletics & Recreation, Jim Phillips, early next week.  I have no delusions that my opinion matters in this situation (nor should it). However, I believe this community of readers represents a large and mostly educated representation of the Northwestern Athletics’ fan base.  We’ll hear what you think in the comments section and in the LTP poll on the right panel of this blog.  Before I jump in further, I ask that you be respectful to one another in your comments.  Almost everyone here passionately wants Northwestern to succeed, so remember we have the same goal in mind. Please, no personal attacks, as this particular topic seems to bring out the worst in some of you.

I’m thankful for the work Bill Carmody has done in his 13 seasons. Despite going 192-209 during his 13 seasons, he elevated the ‘Cats from laughingstock of the conference to at least a respectable, “tough out” among the Big Ten Conference. He implemented a system that enabled Northwestern to dictate tempo and style of play, often neutralizing drastic differences in talent.  He is one of the more honest coaches in the country, telling you like it is, rather than spin doctoring what he knew we saw too. His players never got in to trouble, and despite pressure to win and win now, he emphasized education and the rules as indicated by JerShon Cobb’s season-long suspension for academics.  Despite a half decade run of an unusually high number of injuries to the best players on the team, not once did he complain or make excuses about it.  Simply put, Carmody should be commended for elevating the program from where it was to where it is. But, for us to get to the “next level”, I don’t believe Bill will get us there. These reasons are part of the package that make you pause, before stepping back and say “it is time for a change.”

The number one reason for the camp calling to keep Carmody, for yet another “one more year” stint, is beyond compelling.  As we all know, Northwestern lost the services of three starters this season – Drew Crawford, JerShon Cobb, and for the last seven plus games, Jared Swopshire.  Add in the loss of freshman, Sanjay Lumpkin and reserve big men Chier Ajou, preferred walk-on Aaron Liberman and the injury-plagued season of big man Nikola Cerina, and you have a case for the most cursed team in the history of the B1G.

However, after 13 seasons, when I ask the bigger picture question, “is Bill Carmody the guy who is going to get us to the level of an NCAA Tournament team, one that consistently competes to be in the top half of the conference”? The answer, to me, is “no”.

One of the most knee-jerk reactions to the future projection perspective is the relative futile past of Northwestern basketball. No coach has been over .500 in my 40-year lifetime.  No coach has taken a team to more than one NIT, let alone four straight like Carmody did from ’09-’12.  Teddy Greenstein brilliantly illustrated (or rather the Chicago Tribune’s graphic design team did) the contrast between Carmody’s 13 seasons (Carmody’s 192-209, 70-150 vs Foster/Byrdsong/O’Neill’s 111-254, 30-198). There is no question he has improved upon our futile historical marks. While admitting this is an improvement, why is it bad to have higher expectations?

Many will call me out for underplaying the loss of three starters this season.  That is fair. However, when I look to next year, I see a disturbing trend that leads me to believe we’ll be no closer to breaking through than we were this year.  Many are pinning the “one more year” mantra on the back of Drew Crawford, the return of JerShon Cobb and the high potential of incoming point guard Jaren Sina, the highest rated recruit of the Carmody era (along with JerShon Cobb).  What few are talking about is the absence of any kind of post play.  This isn’t a one year wonder.  Bill Carmody’s teams have lacked any type of low post presence and the quality of big men we’ve had in Evanston has been underwhelming, at best.  The Princeton offense has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Call it a chicken-and-egg scenario, or whatever you want, but the type of big men we attract, ones who can pass, are more comfortable at the free throw line extended than down in the block, are ones that have a hard time coming up with plays when we need them in the final minutes of games.

If you go back and watch the litany of close games we’ve lost in recent years in the B1G, you’ll see a theme.  When it matters most, opponents pound it inside, and more often than not, win the battle on the boards to ultimately beat us.  Think about how many times a Jared Sullinger or Derrick Nix or insert big man here has crushed our soul in the waning moments of a game.  Carmody’s system has been stellar for keeping us in games, but ultimately has not won enough.  Next year, we’ll indeed be deep at guard, actually relatively loaded, by our standards, but we’ll be once again handicapped in the post.  We’ve had little history to support that we can develop big men to drastically improve during their tenure at Northwestern and the scouting report will be the same next year.

Most of us realize that breaking through the 75-year drought of never qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is our annual Holy Grail.  While I realize this is a mammoth hurdle, I ask “then what?” Do you really think that all of a sudden we magically become a top tier B1G team? The very same system that has led to a climax of an 8-8 league record – a full decade ago – will somehow attract the talent to push us in to the conference’s elite? By contrast, Bo Ryan, who entered the B1G at nearly the same time as Carmody, has yet to finish outside of the top four in any one of his seasons. Before you scoff at the comparison (Ryan inherited a program that had a Final Four run in 2000), know that the ‘Cats have gone head to head with the Badgers on more players than any other team in the conference.  We’ve had similar talent level at guard play many years, but the Badgers blow us away by attracting bruisers for big men, and, as unsexy as it is, Ryan’s hallmark bulldog defensive approach is the difference maker.

Northwestern’s teams under Carmody have lacked consistent fundamentals. The near upset of Michigan State yesterday highlighted a point that had me in disbelief – we outrebounded a B1G team! Carmody’s teams are horrific at rebounding.  Forget talent, we don’t execute the fundamentals of boxing out in games.  We get doubled up on second chance points regularly.  We regularly have multiple guys without the hunger gene on “D”.  You can point to talent discrepancy as the main culprit as it relates to lateral foot speed and other basic keys to defense, but I’d argue part of it is the philosophy of the system, part of it is coaching and part of it is a lack of priorities.

The strong voices calling for Coach Carmody to stay, usually have the caveat of “for one more year.”  I’ve met few fans who think he has the hall pass for life, although there are a few of you who believe he should and then hand it off to assistant coach Tavaras Hardy.  If the overwhelming majority of fans believe that Carmody should get one more year, and it is a get in to the NCAA Tournament or goodbye, I argue we’re beyond an outside shot and that we should be using this talent base to give the next coach a running start. Carmody has had the fortune of getting not only one more year, but five more years after a two year stint (’07, ’08) where he won just three B1G games, seven years in to his tenure. There isn’t a program in the world that would’ve let a coach stay on after those back-to-back debacles.  The one more year mentality is rooted in relating everything to our horrible past.  The fear is, should Carmody go, Drew Crawford will use the one-year-wonder rule and pick his school of choice to transfer to and play immediately, perhaps for a contender.  Jaren Sina will reconsider his decision and we’ll fall years back from where we are now.  The reality of where we are now is a program that has risen from perennially dead last, to a more competitive tenant in the B1G basement.

The single biggest smoking gun in the bigger picture of Northwestern basketball, is facilities.  We’re 12th out of 12 in the B1G and falling behind quickly.  Coach Carmody’s salary is reportedly 11th in the conference, ahead of only Penn State’s Pat Chambers.  Our arena, as much as I love it, is woefully outdated.  Band-aid attempts to upgrade the lockerrooms and the coaches’ offices are laughingly short of our B1G competition.

Fans calling to keep Carmody will point out that change for the sake of change doesn’t ensure anything. They’re right. The big question is who do you replace Carmody with and what makes you think things will be any different? You can’t understate the handicaps that Carmody inherited.  A program at rock bottom, poor facilities, and of course, the most stringent academic requirements – by far – in the most competitive conference in the country.  Northwestern must finally address the facilities and a major investment upgrade to the program as a whole. I for one am for overpaying the marketplace to get the right person.  So what if it takes $3 million per year to get the right guy in at Northwestern? Trim the toilet budget in the $225 million lakeside practice facility down to $220 million. Should we be successful and break through to the next level, increased donations from alumni and incremental ticket sales and sponsorship revenue will replenish the coach’s salary uptick.  I’ll be the first to admit that bringing in a Chris Collins or Dave Paulsen or any of the other 10 candidates Teddy Greenstein speculated about, has zero guarantee of success.  It may fail. We may go backwards. However, the commitment to the program must be beyond just hiring a new coaching staff. It needs a complete overhaul.

Some will say this is risky. I beg to differ. Northwestern basketball has been irrelevant for decades with the lone exception of a few moments when we’ve actually had a glimpse of NCAA Tourney potential, and even then, it has been because of the outlier factor of the story, the ultimate underdog moment, moreso than a change in attitude outside of the 5,000 or so season ticket holder/diehard fans. I haven’t even gone in to the relative success of the football program as a marker for expectations of a revenue sport.  I respect you too much to do so. You already know the drill.  My larger point is that after 13 seasons of going from the worst program in the conference to a below-average program in the conference that is at least modestly respected, I have higher expectations as a fan.  As much I respect and thank Bill Carmody for his time at Northwestern, I do not believe he is the guy who is going to get us over the hump to even a sixth or fifth place level team year in and year out.  Using the weight of our past as the reason for not making a change makes no sense to me. However, making a change in coaching without addressing the bigger picture issues that loom, would also be irresponsible.

I am appreciative of Bill Carmody and the admirable job he has done to get us to a more respectable level. I believe, however, it is time to make a change to try and get to the next level.  Let the debate continue.

  • Scooter

    Should Carmody be fired? Yes, we should have high standards and Carmody has had plenty of time to make the tournament.

    Should Jim Phillips fire Carmody this year? No. He didn’t last year, and I don’t see how anything can change based on this year given the number of injuries. If he didn’t deserve to be fired last year, he doesn’t this year either.

    • I’m unclear on this argument. You believe Carmody should be fired, but just b/c Phillips did not do it last year, then it is unjust to do so now?

      • Scooter

        Yes. I don’t think that Carmody can be blamed for this year. The number of injuries we had was quite staggering, and I don’t think it’s right to fault him for it. In my mind nothing about this year changes the Carmody situation, so everyone’s same opinion from last year should stand. Mine was “fire Carmody”, and I still think we should, but Jim Phillips was apparently at least “one more year”, and based on that, I think he should stand by that and give him another shot since he obviously felt that he deserved one last time around.

        • thanks for clarifying. Last year I used this blog to call for a change as well, for the same reasons as this year. Next year’s team is not one that will break through the NCAA Tourney drought, yet has enough baseline talent to start with an OK foundation for the next coach.

          • Just Awful

            Do you have a crystal ball? Because you obviously don’t know anything about our basketball team. It’s almost laughable. You know nothing about basketball strategy, recruiting, etc. to warrant arguing any further with.

          • Really? Wow. Happy to talk hoops strategy any time. I do not have a crystal ball, however.

          • db

            my crystal ball is a rear view mirror. 13 years is a legit sample size, and means much more than anything that happened this year. and by the way the competition is ramping up significantly.

            no school in america would be ok with these results other than ours. but yes, suggesting we need change is incredulous.

    • Arnie Fabrikant

      You nailed it. Wait until a poor season without excuses, such as 2013-14, which, whatever the results, will be

      • db

        this was said last year, leading into this year. keep moving the goalposts. or maybe we have a guarantee of no injuries next year?

    • db

      so how many turned ankles need to happen next year where he has more excuses? what if sina breaks his hand and crawford turns an ankle and misses 4 weeks, does that buy him another year? does it matter when in the season crawford misses? or if sina comes back full stregth? what if lumpkin isnt as good as what we thought, does that buy him time. this is really bad rationale.

  • ChrisCollins

    LTP, amen.

  • gocatsteve

    I say absolutely keep him. He’s made the most out of the talent (and facilities) he had. Thus, he’s a good “X’s and O’s” guy. I’m impressed with his recent recruiting as well. The injuries no doubt have been a burden, but it has caused us to play a number of freshmen who have gained a lot of experience that can only bode well for the future. Demps, Olah and Abrahamson all show promise. With Cobb, Crawford, et al., coming back healthy next year, I truly believe Carmody will finally take us to the Promised Land.
    If we hire another coach, it may help the program in the long run, but I can’t help but believe we’ll be taking a few steps backward in the short haul. Let’s get to the Big Dance first. Let’s get there next year. Carmody is the guy to do it.

    • Aaron

      How many more steps can they take backwards? I’d call losing to Penn State at home on Senior Night the end of the line. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as saying “Let’s get to the big dance first.” If it was, NU would be like a Kansas or Kentucky. And then, how would NU fire a guy for taking them to the Big Dance? It would be like Phillips firing Fitz after the Gator Bowl.

      • DumbPost

        You Moron!!! We are missing four, yes four, of our starters to finish out the season!!! Get a clue before you post this nonsense about losing to Penn State, who by the way also beat the #4 team in the country only a week before and almost beat the #22 team the other night! What the hell are you talking about?

        • Ron

          Thanks for elevating the tone of the discussion.

          • DumbPost

            Your welcome…someone had to do it with all the crap being posted on this comment board. I just hope Dr. Jim and Morty don’t actually read the crap these anti-carmody people are posting and take it to heart.

          • db

            they dont have to read it. they are nauseas every game watching it. if our bar for success is to never win more games then we lose, then i guess we have found utopia. of course the next hire might not work. but what is at risk? losing our grip on irrelevancy? There is only 1 reason to keep carmody, and that is if you believe there isnt a coach in the country that could do better. I for one think chris collins with his dad around the program has promise. not a guarantee, but actual excitement and more than a couple hundred people that care. and i just do not understand what we are giving up. we suck. everyone plays well sometimes. PSU beat Michigan. Coming close and getting run at the end is not victory.

          • das420

            Totally agree with the above. Yes, it’s very possible that a new guy won’t work (maybe even resulting in a step back)–so what? We’ve accomplished exactly nothing as a Bball program in the 70 or so years since hosting the first tourney. If we do fall back, exactly what are we losing–an occassional NIT appearance? I’ll take that risk, because what’s the point in taking an active interest in this program if we’re resigned to the fact that this is as good as it is ever going to get…

          • CatFan

            You people amaze me…most programs would kill for a guy like Carmody to run their program and you’re shitting all over him after an injury-riddled season (no, not 13 years). The guy is finally getting this program in better shape and you guys want to go backward. And no, Chris Collins and “his dad” are NOT going to make the program any better. We cannot recruit like Duke, nor can we play like them. Until you people figure that out you’re just barfing out nonsense. What excitement you idiot? You think we’re going to get more than 50% NU fans at Welsh-Ryan because of Chris Collins? What world are you living in? And no, we’re not irrelevant. Big 10 teams spend 2-3 times more practice time preparing for us than any other team. And yet, we still hold our own or beat some of these teams that are clearly better than us. I have a solution…maybe we should just go play in the Horizon League. You like that idea? Because most Horizon League teams have better facilities than we do. Can’t debate that fact either.

          • Most Horizon league teams have better talent too. . . .

        • ctya

          Get a grip. Losing to Penn State won’t get him fired. The track record over 13 years is more than enough.

          • CatFan

            Best four years in NU history THE LAST FOUR YEARS…enough said. C Ya ctya!

          • db

            nice bar

        • Aaron

          Thank you for the ad hominem attack. This isn’t just about the Penn State game. It’s about Carmody’s 30% winning percentage in the Big Ten during his time at NU. And only once, did he have a .500 record in conference play. There just isn’t much of a track record for believing that he would take NU to the Big Dance.

    • Aaron

      How many years have NU fans said “wait until next year”? It’s a great thought, but even realistically, what are the odds they would make the Dance in 2014? And how many more steps are left to take back? The Penn State loss on Senior Night sounds like rock bottom to me.

      • CatFan

        Yes, we lost to a team that just beat the #4 team in the country and still plays in the best conference in college basketball and we played them missing 4 starters, but let’s say it like we just lost to Alcorn State and make a coaching change…come on man. Make a valid argument instead of posting this garbage. All my rebuttals to you guys no this page have mentioned this for the most part. And yet none of you has come up with any LEGITIMATE reason to get rid of the guy, just “it’s been 13 years” or “we need enthusiasm in the program” or “Carmody doesn’t condition our players enough and that’s why we have so many injuries” (and yes this was an actual post somewhere on this page). Come up with some substance before you ask for a guy to lose his income after doing such a great job the last four years…

        • Aaron Friedman

          He has done a much better job, yes, I will agree with that. But how much of the last four years were a result of easier non-conference scheduling, which got drastically easier? 20 wins in basketball is almost like 6 wins in football, especially considering some of the cream puffs NU played in the non-conference. Honestly, he is lucky to have had the job and income from NU for this long, because you and I both know that at any other major program (even a lot of mid-major programs), he would be long gone. I would hate for anyone to lose their job, but unfortunately, it is the nature of being a big time basketball coach.

        • db

          1 – he has never cleared a .500 record, ever (you can stop reading here)
          2 – he makes critical game changing mistakes to lose important games (the list is long).
          3 – he fired kevin coble, which was a prime case of him not caring enough to deal with program altering issues
          4 – he benched olah for half of each game this year to watch turner but up an historically horrible year. Olah is the future, and he is watching this garbage from the bench.
          5 – his best 2 players that played this year were not even recruited
          6 – yes – no one giving a crap about the program is a big problem. you cant raise money to fix facilities when literally no one cares.
          7 – he benched a guy he called the best athlete on the team for the whole year
          8 – he literally has no idea what to do with a big guy, even when he falls into one like olah (who by the way, with a real coach will be a real guy in a few yrs, but gained nothing this year other than some conditioning.)

          • DBIsAnIdiot

            Wow these comments are just ridiculous…

            1) Neither has any other coach…
            2) You have ZERO evidence here…if you knew anything about basketball you’d know that talent wins games, not the coaches on the sideline. Carmody is one of the best tacticians in the game. If you’re trying to say that he doesn’t draw it up right you’ve got another thing coming. The players finish off games and no, we don’t have the players that the other teams in our conference have. And we will continue to lose close games until our facilities improve. You people just have no clue how important they are when recruiting high school basketball players.
            3) Fired Kevin Coble? WTF are you talking about? Kevin quit because he didn’t want to be a part of the TEAM. He was a mama’s boy who wouldn’t even go into the locker room with the other players before and after practice! Get your facts straight before you spew out this bullshit…
            4) You ever think he played Turner so that Olah would learn from his mistakes? Instead, let’s just play a guy that’s struggling to do anything out there. A lot of coaches use this tactic so another bad point for you.
            5) I’m assuming you’re referring to Swopshire and Hearn…and yes, the staff recruited Swopshire, who also had interest in Wake Forest and a couple other schools. Yes, Hearn was a walk-on, but I’d say he and the staff did a pretty good job of getting Hearn Big 10 ready, no? He was an Honorable Mention all Big-10 this season in the best conference in the nation as a former walk-on. Point stricken again from you…man, I’m taking you to town here…
            6) No one has cared about this program since its damn inception. And I bet you’re probably one of those a-holes who would rather watch on TV than actually come to the stadium. Or maybe a season ticket holder who sells their tix to alumni from other Big 10 schools to effectively make our home court a neutral court? What point are you trying to make here?
            7) Are you talking about Cerina? Dude, the guy’s been injured almost the entire season, and yes at this point Carmody and the staff, and myself, would rather see our Freshmen who are equally or even more talented, get the playing experience.
            8) After 4 years under Carmody, Olah will be able to dribble better than most big guys, shoot better than most bigs, and already has great touch around the basket, but will only get better at that too. He’s also a pretty good passer. WTF are you talking about? If I were a 7’0″ big guy in high school right now the only reason I wouldn’t want to play at NU is if another school with better facilities was recruiting me…say, Illinois for instance. If I were only looking at the coach I’d rather play for John Thompson III, Bill Carmody, Mitch Henderson, or any other Princeton coach over anyone else. Centers in the Princeton offense get to control the ball more than any other center in division 1 basketball. AND YES, THE TEAM HAS A PLAY CALLED LOW POST PLAY WHERE THEY THROW THE BALL INTO THE POST YOU IDIOT!

            Come up with some good rebuttals to those and I’ll be impressed. Tired of reading all the BS on this board from people who know nothing about basketball.

          • db

            1 – NU has never cared about basketball. If they cared, in this era of parity and tightening academic standards, they can get someone who can win. And even if they don’t, we have lost nothing. There is no difference. I would just assume be as bad as this year than the 75th best team in the country
            2 – Here are a few: @MSU a few yrs ago, needs 2 FTs to win the game, and he runs an inbound play for his worst FT shooter. @home vs MSU a few yrs ago, keeps his rebounders on the bench when all they need to do is rebound a missed FT to win. This year – they won the game vs ISU, but he keeps olah on the floor hitting 30% of his FTs with 2mins left in a tight game. Finally takes him out and they hang on. there are more. Coaches are allowed to make mistakes, just stop putting him in rarefied error of tacticians.
            3 – My facts are straight. Both sides erred. One was 21 yrs old, the other couldnt get over himself. The result was losing an all B1G guy. Thats on the coach.
            4 – Big guys need reps making post moves. Of course you dont play thru everything, but playing 15mins in some games teaches nothing. Especially when you are watching the worst player in the B1G in your spot.
            5 – many blame this season on injuries, my point is that the 2 best players on the team weren’t even in the plan, one of them as recently as 6 months ago.
            6 – I’ve bought more tix and been to more games than you will in your lifetime
            7 – Cerina turned his ankle in December. It’s March. I’m glad you like watching Turner. You are the Turner of posters.
            8 – I dont really know what your ramble is about. i said Carmody doesnt develop big men. I base that on the fact that all of his guys regress. that’s all. I just read your thing again and still dont understand it. But neither do you.

  • rb

    LTP, I agree with your point that the debate on Carmody’s job is also a debate on the Princeton offense. Not only does it prevent us from getting any top level recruits, it is boring for fans (read donors) to watch. The Princeton offense reinforces mediocrity and I think most fans after having seen increasing football success want NU basketball to go to the next level.

    • I think Chris Emma of Scout said this a few times this year while covering Northwestern (and I happen to agree as a basketball junkie): When the Princeton is run correctly it is “basketball porn.”

      It definitely is not as aesthetically pleasing. But it can be very entertaining to watch with the right players and the ability to improvise a bit more than perhaps Carmody allows his version to do.

      • Chasmo

        A Princeton style offense is not the problem per se if you are running it with really talented players — just watch Georgetown.
        The problem with the Princeton offense is how it makes NU’s very difficult recruiting situation even worse because not only is Carmody unable to recruit all big men whose academics don’t match up with NU, he also is unable to recruit all big men without passing, ball handling and shooting skills. That’s a lot of good post players to have to pass up.
        When a bottom feeder such as NU is looking for players, it really can’t afford to discount any talented big man with the grades who wants to play at NU but thanks to the Princeton offense Carmody does that.
        Recruiting at NU is hard enough without the Princeton offense and Carmody’s lack of charisma making the job even tougher than it has to be.

        • CatFan

          Yes Chasmo, let’s go recruit post players with no skill! haha
          Did you really just say that? Also, please go to the Rivals.com Top150 and list out all the solid 6’10” players that are academically available to come to Northwestern…and who wouldn’t be interested in the UCLA, Duke, Stanford, etc. types who have high academic standards but much much nicer facilities…I guarantee you don’t respond to this rebuttal because you feasibly can’t!

          • Chasmo

            Your opening line shows your inability to understand any argument that doesn’t support your point of view so arguing with someone as combative and dumb as you are is a lost cause. I’ll give it one more try and then we’re done.
            Your closing line seems to indicate that you believe that NU basketball can never make the NCAA tournament because it will never be able to sign a player that a basketball power is also recruiting. That’s not an unreasonable argument; it’s just a very negative one. It makes sense that someone who believes NU will never be a very good team would be happy to retain Carmody and hope for a few NIT appearances from time to time.
            Others believe the right coach can take NU to the next level. But I’m sure you’ll say no ambitious coach will ever come to Northwestern because Northwestern will always stink so there is no point in even trying and just keep Carmody.
            I see your argument. I just don’t agree. NU’s football program — which was once the worst in NCAA history in terms of tradition, won-loss record, and facilities — proved it can be done.
            You just don’t believe it. So be it.

  • PurpleFloyd

    You’ve framed the debate well LTP – thanks for providing this forum and for all of your hard work….I’ve lurked for a long time but this is my first post.
    I was in the “Keep Carmody” camp until the last Penn State game. Seeing PSU play their best basketball at the end of the season, seeing PSU’s energy on the bench, seeing how they continued to fight and scrap even though they had “nothing” to play for – it was just obvious that our guys had checked out. Of course they came back yesterday and played tough (and props to Marco and Reggie for their PSU performance), but it just seems like Bill isn’t inspiring these guys and they need a change. I made up my mind after that game that it’s time for the program to take a chance and move on. I’ll undertsand JP’s decision if he keeps Carmody on, but you’re right (and the point has been made on SoP as well) – just making the NCAA tourney one year does not guarantee long term success.
    A couple of questions – did Carmody “recruit” Swop or did he find NU on his own given the degree he wanted to pursue? I get the sense the Carmody got sort of lucky with respect to bringing Swop into the program this year. It would have been an even longer year without him by far!
    You alluded above to Cerina being hurt, but I had the sense in the last half of the season that he was just in BC’s doghouse. Does anyone have any info on that? How does Carmody call Cerina one of his best athletes in pre-season and then ignore him all year?
    At any rate, I’m ready to see some new life in Evanston. Thanks to Bill for all he’s done to raise the level of play, but I think our school can set some higher goals.

    • Skeptical

      “Got lucky” with bringing in Swop? Is this true? Or are we now just making claims without any actual evidence backing them up?

      There are plenty of reasonable arguments against Carmody, most of which were outlined by LTP above. But don’t undermine some of the good he has done. Swop wouldn’t have came here if he didn’t like the coach and have a good relationship with him.

      • PurpleFloyd

        Not trying to be unreasonable here – I just genuinely don’t understand how these graduate student tranfers work. Can students with this type of eligibility be “recruited?” I probably shoudln’t have mixed that question in the with Carmody debate – brining in Swop was nothing but a credit to the current program.

        • this is a great subject for a future post. Thanks for the idea!

          • PB Cat

            I’m amazed at the attitude many of you posters have toward one another. I as a 22 year season ticket holder am wondering why bother to renew my tickets if I’m sitting around a bunch of people with this type of attitude.

            I think we all have to sit back and remind ourselves that one man, Jim Phillips is going to make this decision. Then we have to respect his judgment which in my view has been very good in the approximate 5 years that he has been here.

          • Next Cat

            You got that right! My opinion and — w/ no disrespect at all to the posters (and posers?) who made for some entertaining reading here today — those of others mean nothing to me. I trust Phillips to get this right and will fully support whatever he decides even if it’s contrary to my own impulses.

  • Aaron

    I feel like a big concern for people wanting to keep Carmody is the possibility of losing players from next years team. In reality, most of the guys will stay because of the prospect of sitting out during a transfer year, especially guys who have already red-shirted. And keeping Carmody because of players, doesn’t really say much about his coaching. Carmody has done a decent job, but he is just not the guy to take this program to the next level and if they keep Carmody, NU will perpetually be in 8th place in the B1G. Time for a change.

    • I believe that mentality – keeping a coach b/c Crawford might transfer OR Jaren Sina might reconsider – is too small in the big picture. Crawford, b/c of graduating, could play right away. I just don’t see us on the precipice of breaking through with an 11-7 conference mark next year, regardless if everyone stays.

      • CatFan

        That’s where we “respectfully” disagree. This team is shaping up to make a nice run next season and I also heard the staff will try to make a run at another Swopshire for next season. You all just need to let this play out for another season. Look at it this way, even though there’s no solid proof that 2013-14 is Carmody’s final year of his contract, this is supposedly the case. Thus, if he doesn’t get it done next year with the full complement of players we have coming back then perhaps then I can join the “maybe we should take a different route” faction. Until then, I can’t allow all you naysayers to tear apart the good chance we have at a tourney run next season!

        • db

          nice position to put the players in…get there this year guys or your coach loses his job

  • Stephen Zgrabik

    If I’m remembering correctly, I think we’ve had the “should Carmody get one more year” debate for the last several years. The circumstances re injuries may be different this year, but the debate is for the most part the same. If we give Carmody another year, I don’t doubt that we’ll be having the same debate again this time next year.

    I appreciate what Carmody has done for NU basketball in his time here, but I think it is time to amicably part ways.

    • Agreed. If it is March of 2014 and we have to have this dialogue again, I may very well go insane.

      • JustAKnowledgeableFan

        There’s nothing to go insane about…none of your points are really all that valid LTP. Unless you as a fan know what goes on behind the scenes, which you absolutely DO NOT, you have no right to call for a coach to be fired, WHEN HE’S HAD THE BEST 4 YEAR STRETCH THAT ANY OF US HAS SEEN AT NU! There is just simply no merit to any of you anti-Carmody posters. I know you didn’t want anyone to get nasty about this, but you’re all just asking for it. I have to be defensive of the man, because we have a great team coming back in a great system against hopefully a weaker Big 10 next year (but not by much). And to change coaches right now and possibly jeopardize that in order to run some shitty ball screen iso system with the players we have just makes no sense.

        And I’m sorry LTP, but to say that you don’t THINK Carmody can get us from Point B to Point A, when he’s gotten us from Point D to Point B already, is just plain dumb. Your reasoning of developing big men isn’t legit enough for that comment. If you come up with some ACTUAL comments as to why (and no the 13 or 14 year blah blah blah doesn’t work either) you don’t think Carmody and his staff of Hardy and Hill can’t CONTINUE to help this program rise I can’t take your posts seriously.

        • I respect your opinion. However, fans that believe a change is in the best interest of the program are not any less entitled to their opinion. To this point, how do you know we have a “great” team coming back? It’s all opinion. That’s the point. I can respectfully agree to disagree. As can you.

          • CatFan

            Ok then…I “respectfully” disagree and further state that we competed with every team we played this season for the most part and even won a few we shouldn’t have. With Cobb, Crawford, and the other guys coming back with a little more experience we’ve got a great group. And hopefully Sina will spell Sobo a little more, because he’s got some game. If we fire Carmody we could easily lose Sina, Crawford, Cobb, Demps, Kale, and/or Olah next season. I think you might lose 1-3 of them tops but any of them could leave for sure, further throwing us into uncertainty over the next few years. Let’s see how you like that…

          • db

            venturing into the comedy now….those guys would leave as opposed to play for a tier 1 coach? the team may not improve, and a new coach may not work out, but i can say with total confidence that if they hire a relevant coach we will not lose one guy we want to keep.

            catfan – i really think you need to watch a little more film, and dont limit yourself to stretches of games that fit your narrative. You might want to focus o the outcomes, etc. you kind of seem like the fan version of michael turner (a notable exception from your parade out the door list)

        • virginiaNU

          I dont believe the team is that great. No real low post play (dont kid yourself with olah and turner). I think Crawford is a good Number 2, Cobb has never really done that much and the rest are all blah players. 8th in the conference at best.
          I’m so bored of this. I’d just like enthusiasm, and this coach provides none.

          • GoToBloomington

            Cobb is probably the best player on the team right now. From what I hear he absolutely tears it up in practice and I’m looking forward to seeing him lead this team to the Dance next season along with Crawford. And wow, Olah is a blah player? He’s better this season than Luka was as a senior! He’ll develop a little bit and get in better shape. You’re so full of crap with your enthusiasm bit. I don’t get it. You want an asshole like Tom Crean to come in and get all rah rah with our 4,000 home fans and 4,100 opponent fans every game in our shitty arena? Go to Bloomington then and sit with those folks in red. We don’t need fans like you. You just fill your seat at WR Arena bitching about how shitty our team is nonstop. My girlfriend couldn’t even believe it when she came to a game. She asked how our players and staff can handle being ridiculed by our own fans all game, let alone by our opposing fans. The funny part was that was the Minnesota win! You go back into your hole!

        • Mark

          While Carmody has greatly improved the program he also has built a program that is as relevant in basketball as Nebraska and Penn State. I think that is really all that I can say about the relevance of the program. And people continue to argue that his teams play other teams close. Comparative scores are a poor basis to make a decision. It would be interesting to do a statistical analysis of “close” games in all leagues – I would start by postulating that the most common margin is 8 to 12 points. And when Maryland and Rutgers come into the league we’ll be adding two more basketball programs better than the Cats.

          • CatFan

            1-4 point games quickly turn into 8-12 point games when you have to foul at the end. If you simply look at margin of victory based on what you see on paper you don’t know much about how the game of basketball works.

  • CatAlum06

    Amen, LTP. We need someone who is willing to shake things up and get fans excited about something, anything related to Northwestern basketball. Everyone who wants Carmody to stay seems to equate his firing to a condemnation or a punishment of him personally. Sometimes, it’s just not meant to be, and it’s become increasingly clear with Carmody that’s the case. Suddenly expecting a sea change in the team’s performance next year is just not reasonable. I think Carmody is an excellent guy, a good representative of the university and deserves a lot of praise for what he’s done. But the program just needs some fresh air, new ideas and new faces.

  • exMMSSer

    One injury is a fluke. Maybe two, even. But multiple injuries are a sign of program that’s not paying proper attention to the conditioning of its athletes. Throw in academic performance issues (one player lost this year due to grades), and I think there’s enough here to merit a buyout of the last year of the contract, even under the “Northwestern way” of looking at things. NU needs a MBB coach who can elicit new excitement for the program, including donations and purple ticket support. Carmody can’t do that off the floor anymore. A new coach might. If Dr. Phillips believes he can hire an upgrade at this position, he should.

    • CatFan

      Did you really just state that Carmody is responsible for the injuries we’ve suffered this year? Get a life dude. I’ve seen a practice. They do an extensive stretching program at the beginning of practice. These injuries do not occur because of “poor conditioning.” Wow…can’t believe you said that.

      • db

        the only thing dumber than saying carmody is responsible for the injuries, is catfan saying that he has seen a practice and witnessed the stretching program to invalidate the point. holy crap.

  • Max_Power

    I’ll give one argument to retain Carmody and a counter argument that I wrestle with to to let him go. Argument to retain Carmody:

    If NU has no interest in upgrading facilities until football is moved in 3 or 4 years, now is probably not the time to replace Carmody. With Carmody, you know that his system will keep NU in games and that he has enough pieces to make a run at 17-20 wins next year. He won’t complain about the facilities and he will win or lose with class. So Carmody is a place holder until NU gets its act together and we accept 17-20 wins per year with a chance at the NCAAs if things break right next year.

    The counter argument: If you make a change now, you give a new coach a 17-20 win team and maybe just maybe he can recruit off of that and get some players. Let’s say you convince Collins to come from Duke. He comes in and convinces two kids that were looking at Duke to commit to NU next fall. Then, in his first year he wins 17-20 games and gets in to the NIT or maybe he rides a resurgant Crawford to the NCAAs. If that happens, he writes a long thank you to Carmody, he can promise new facilities to recruits and boom, you’ve moved the program from point B to point A.

    Ultimately, having watched Carmody coached teams for a long time, I know how good of a coach he is and I understand the ridiculous expectations to compete with both hands tied behind his back that he has faced. I read once where Carmody never even thought it would be this hard at NU. Personally, I would hope NU retains him but I understand that the time may be right for a change.
    That being said, be very wary because if plan A or B falls through for Phillips, I’ll only say this: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

  • Ron

    I’m very confused on the facilities question: are there no square feet at Ryan Fieldhouse in which to build a couple offices, a locker room and a practice space for the basketball team? If not, why was that team not included in the on-campus building plan?

    • BasketballDude

      Ron, football actually has to be moved first so that Trienen Hall can be knocked down and a new arena can be built. At least that’s the perception we all have of what will happen. Only problem is basketball won’t see anything built for at least another 5-6 years, maybe more because our school is all about raising all the money first before they build anything. It’s not like we have a $7 billion endowment or anything though…

      • Ron

        I guess I don’t perceive the need that others here see for an entire new arena. Why is the basketball team consigned to spend all its days at the athletic campus instead of being able to use the new facilities on the Lakefill? On gamedays, wouldn’t minor changes to the locker rooms suffice if their daily/year-round facility was top notch? I don’t get the linkage that some here make between the quality of fan amenities and the ability to recruit 16-year old athletes. I just don’t see where they give a shit about concourse width, concession stands and bathroom lines. And just like the football stadium, there’s not much wrong with the atmosphere that wouldn’t be cured by a consistently winning record.

  • SFTFame

    If you are appreciative of Bill Carmody and the admirable job he has done to get us to a more respectable level, how about, instead of rewarding him with walking papers, giving him these more resources of which you speak? This is a man who had to recruit players for a while without being able to show them the locker room facilities because they were so embarrassing! And then reach unrealistic expectations with whatever talent he was able to convince to come here. Of course it’s taken 13 years and counting to get to the “next level!” You want to fire a man for coming closer to achieving something than Basketball Hall of Fame coaches haven’t been able to achieve here.

    What coach would want to come to Northwestern? You have to win in the toughest conference in the country, with the toughest academic restrictions in the country, and the worst facilities and gameday atmosphere in the conference. What is going to change with this by firing Bill Carmody? They just announced a multi-million dollar athletic facilities upgrade for the University and there are more mentions of Dance Marathon benefiting from the facility than the basketball program. Why is some new coach deserving of an investment in the program, but Bill Carmody, the man who has somehow managed to win some games and have modest success DESPITE the ridiculous situation, is not?

    You can nitpick the basketball points if you want, how “boring” his offensive system is (why that is even a concern for ANYBODY is beyond me), lack of rebounding, whatever. The bottom line is that his players play hard, they love him (this is not a debatable point, especially for those who have never met the man or any of his players… they love him and play their asses off), and for the past couple years his teams have won more games that they shouldn’t than they have lost games than they should.

    He’s not a “sexy” name like Chris Collins seems to be (who has accomplished what exactly that would qualify him for this job?). He’s not a (*cough*phony) sparkplug like Tom Crean (who couldn’t really do much until he recruited some future NBA talent, funny how that works). He’s apparently not a basketball genius like Tex Winter (whose record at Northwestern was what?). But he’s been able to win some ballgames, and bring us to a height that none of his predecessors have. It’s time for a change alright, but it’s time to give some tools to the man who built the foundation of the house with his bare hands.

    • This is a great counterpoint/question. It’s my opinion, and purely speculative, but based on the body of work of 13 seasons, I don’t believe Carmody, his system and his ability to recruit/attract/develop big men, would get better to get us to a top six B1G basketball program even with the promise of resources. One thing this entire debate brings to the forefront is the complete absence of a publicly known financial commitment to basketball facilities. The air cover of the $225 million Ryan Fieldhouse/lakefront project has diverted most of the conversation away from “what about Welsh-Ryan?”. It will be top of mind for any incoming coach, unless it is of the type that is just happy to be here.
      To your point, I simply don’t believe with the promise of even a brand new arena, and state of the art practice facilities that Carmody would be the guy to get us to the next level. Whether you like it or not, the investment will likely put on donors and donors will be more apt to give to a personable guy than Bill. Fair or unfair, it is the reality. I don’t believe you need to be a rah-rah, media savvy guy to be a great basketball coach. If you win. If you’re not winning and don’t possess those skills, you’re in trouble when it comes to 9-figure needs of investment.

      • Max_Power

        LTP, you have no idea whether Carmody can recruit on equal footing with other programs because he’s never had the chance. I saw a lot of bad basketball at NU before Carmody and I can honestly say that NU wins games and is competitive because of Carmody’s systems and not despite them. Also, if you watched closely, before the injuries NU was running new offensive and defensive sets that were very effective. Hell, even against MSU, the system created open shots. The reason the “Make Shots” shirts were so great is that it is that simple. Carmody’s systems create open shots, he just needs players who can consistently make them. Look at the Illinois game or the Purdue game from this year. Carmody has not been given the opportunity at NU to recruit on equal footing with the competition. And despite this the team was competitive until Swopshire got hurt. There are reasons to make a change, I don’t think the Princeton offense is a valid one.

        • If you’re stating that “equal footing” in terms of recruiting equals facilities on par with the competition, then yes, you are right. This is why I said it isn’t just about getting a new coach in the post. I tried to make it clear, a major investment in basketball is equally part of the equation. You are correct that I have no idea what he could do recruiting-wise with said facility investment, but I am confident that part of the fundraising will fall on his shoulders. I very much doubt, based on his brand ambassadorship to date, he would be a successful face of the program to raise funds in the way a personable, fan-friendly coach (devoid of winning lots of games) needs to.
          Simply put, I believe Carmody has a ceiling of player improvement.

          • CatFan

            Fundraising has NOTHING to do with the coach unless he’s a total schmuck. Your point is baseless. Please explain a time where a change of a good, but quiet, coach actually raised money for new facilities instead of saying this BS that you’re stating. You have a chance to post something that people will read because of your site, and yet you post this crap.

          • I wasn’t saying that the coach would actually DO the fundraising, but that being out there with the media as the face of the program is part of the perception enhancing that comes with the territory. Like it or not, people are influenced to give by either win totals or likability/perception of the program. See: Fitz.

          • Chasmo

            LTP has a point.
            Gary Barnett was a great promoter — “Expect Victory!” “Take the Purple to Pasadena” — and was very good with alums.
            Pat Fitzgerald goes to NYC and several other alumni events around the nation annually to press the flesh and promote the program. He also is very good with alums.
            In the 13 years at NU, Carmody has never joined Fitzgerald at one of the NYC events — and Carmody is from N.J. for crying out loud — and there has been no mention in alumni circles of him ever attending an event outside of Chicago.
            Being a promoter (and recruiter) are essential parts of a college coach’s job.

          • CatFan

            Neither of you has any proof that people donated to our athletic department, let alone the football team, based on Fitz’s personality and media likability. Wins…maybe, but still no actual proof. Maybe they wanted to donate because they want to see the program on more level footing with other B10 programs. Fact is, neither of you (Chasmo and LTP) actually know why people donate, because neither of you donate big $$$ to the program. Yes, success breeds wealth, but also vice versa and until you both acknowledge that I can’t take your argument seriously. You’re simply offering your gut feelings here rather than providing any evidence. And it’s not enough to warrant firing our coach right now. Not even close.

          • Actually that’s not true, but that’s besides the point. I do know people who have contributed significant dollars based on Fitz’s involvement with NU football, based on their percpetion of the program trajectory and his “way”.
            My point in the article was that it’s not as easy as just getting a new coach. NU must also make a financial investment in to the program. My opinion (I have no knowledge of people that would give/not give based on Carmody) is that the new coach would also need to be someone who is media friendly/public press the flesh type in addition to being a good coach to maximize the potential fundraising needs.

          • bradroc

            I was living in NYC when Carmody and Coach McKeown appeared at an NU alumni event at the New York Athletic Club in the Summer of 2011, so not sure why you’re attacking Bill C. for not interacting with the fan base outside of Chicago

          • CatsFan

            bradroc just pointing out the truth here…trust me, Carmody cares about the basketball program’s perception to the public. He does things the right way with the program and that should be more than enough to allow people to donate to the program. Maybe instead you should think about the fact that Jim has to move football before he can move basketball and that people will start donating toward a new basketball arena after the initial $220 million is raised for the football practice facility/rec stuff. It won’t have anything to do with Carmody or another basketball coach and it shouldn’t. It should be because you want Northwestern to be a major basketball program in the future, whether or not it’s Carmody or somebody else at the helm.

          • SFTFame

            If you’ve ever talked one-on-one with the man at any length, you would have a very different opinion. His style may not play well in front of a tv camera, but one-on-one, he’s very charismatic, engaging, honest, and hilarious. He’s not going to fire up a huge crowd like crazy rah-rah Fitz (whose act gets tired when the team isn’t winning), but put him in a social gathering with wealthy donors where he can work through a room, and he’ll get the job done. Those sorts of gatherings are what raises the big money.

            The thing is, the Athletic Department has never TRIED to raise any significant amount of money for the basketball program, so nobody knows this. Everybody just seems to think hiring some “sexy” name will get the money flowing. How much fundraising has Chris Collins had to do at Duke?

      • SFTFame

        It’s not like Carmody’s teams are routinely coming out unprepared and stinking up the joint. He’s an excellent coach, and, lest we forget, a proven winner before he came to Northwestern. Sure they lay an egg once in a while, just like any other team. But compare the number of those to the number of times we’ve gone toe-to-toe with teams we had no business playing tight, even if we’ve lost more of them than we’ve won. In the end, superior athletes generally prevail, regardless of the system, so if we have the athletic players to keep up with them, we’d win more of them than we’d lose. We get the top players by providing them with a top experience. We’re not providing them a top experience right now, and it’s not Bill Carmody’s fault. He gets the most out of the players he has, and recruits as well as anyone possibly could, given he’s essentially selling nothing but himself, playing against good schools, and academics. If you give him more resources, he will do that much better.

        I do agree that donors are more apt to give to a personable guy. It’s spilled milk now, but the athletic department really should’ve struck hard after the first NIT berth. Then, he finally was a winner, and the future looked pretty bright. Instead, they just hung him out to dry. What coach would want to come to a place where his/her bosses would do that? Especially when there are a bunch of more desirable openings to be had. I’d love to know what they would tell a prospective coach in an interview what their plans are to support him.

        • cenpd

          stinking up the joint? NU had 3 games where they scored under 43 points, and one time had like 15 points in a half? I mean really?

          • SFTFame

            Come on now, it’s a little different when you’re missing 3 starters and bunch of bench players for either the season or extended periods of time, playing freshmen expected to redshirt for like 40 minutes. It’s not like they had been stinking up the joint in the previous couple seasons, or this season before the injuries started. We’re freakishly injury depleted, tired, young, and inexperienced. There’s no magic formula that would’ve led us to victory the past couple games. No coach in the country could make the team we have right now at this moment play any harder or better than they currently are.

          • db

            He has not finished .500 in 14 years. This isnt about crawford’s shoulder, or the knee of a guy that wasnt even on the team 6 months ago. its a body of work. And by the way, they lost all of these “close” games.

          • dumbcomment

            Yes, because talent wins close games and our TALENT was sitting on the bench.

        • cenpd

          And also, what about losing to PSU by 6 on senior night? or nebraska? and also remember, we LOST all those games you referenced.

          • PointingOut

            As I stated below, Penn State did beat the #4 team in the country and also just missed out on upsetting Wisconsin the other day…it’s not like we lost to MVSU (and please don’t say anything about UIC, because that’s the only non-RPI top 100 team we’ve lost to the last 5 years).

    • rb

      It’s a chicken and egg problem. Let’s look at how the new $250 mil facility is getting its funding. Morty’s main selling point is Fitz. He is selling donors on how Fitz is a successful coach and that we need to pony up the money to give Fitz facilities so that he will stay and continue his success.

      Now Morty can’t sell fans on Carmody. It’s clear by the annual “Fire Carmody” debates that we have that a significant portion of the fan base doesn’t want him as coach. And while you don’t think his boring offense has an effect, I would disagree. Fan experience has a significant effect on donations. Donations lead to improved facilities and so on goes the circular argument.

  • CMcCat

    The Princeton Offense made sense 13 years ago when you look at the talent level NU was able to successfully recruit at that time. A “gimmick” (respectfully) was what we needed to be somewhat competitive. And that is what we have been. Ironically, the increased talent level at NU in recent years makes the Princeton Offense less important to reaching higher levels of future success. 13 years is a very long time to give a project to not have conclusive results as to its potential for success. Thank you, Coach Carmody for being an important part of NU hoops.

    • CatFan

      The Princeton offense creates open shots. It’s not a gimmick offense. Look at last night vs MSU. Almost every shot we took was wide open. The only thing we’re missing is the talent level to knock down those shots with regularity. Too bad they were either sitting on the bench injured or sitting at home. Next year they won’t be. Stupid argument…enough said

      • CMcCat

        “Almost every shot we took was wide open”
        Enough said.

        • CatFan

          What do you mean huh? Watch the tape again buddy…the offense generated most of our open shots with much less weaker personnel and yes there were an abundance of them. Michigan State and Ohio State allow us to run our offense a little too easily man to man and thus enable us to stay in games by knocking down open shots. Watch every OSU and MSU game the last 4-5 years and you’ll see what I mean. Iowa, on the other hand, plays us very hard man to man and is great at preventing perimeter jumpers so we may need to pull something out of our butts against them on Thursday, but Carmody will prepare them well.

  • I think that the identity of the coach isa secondary matter to the willingness of the Board of Trustees to make a major investment in facilities. I’m a little ambivalent about this – I really didn’t like the lavish Nebraska facility, which I think just tends to create entitled and isolated athletes – but I’m afraid that to be competitive some degree of upgrade is needed. Any major program assistant coach, or successful midmajor HC – and that’s our pool of replacements – is not going to consider the NU job unless a facilities commitment is in the works. If it isn’t, BC’s potential replacements are Tavaras Hardy (not a bad thing at all) or second rank coaches who may not exactly solve the problems.

    BC has strengths and weaknesses, like all of them. I’m grateful for what he’s accomplished here, and for maintaining a degree of dignity is a pretty undignified profession.

    • Well said. The need to keep up with the Joneses comes with lots of potential potholes.

  • Bleed Purple and White

    Completely agree with SFTFame. How about we give Carmody the tools he needs to build an NCAA tournament qualifier before throwing him out? I was at NU in the mid-1980s when Bill Foster was brought in to win. He had taken Duke to the 1978 NCAA finals and was a proven winner. And remember Kevin O’Neill? He had taken Marquette to a number of 20-win seasons and NCAA tourneys. Neither of them succeeded in doing much of anything at NU. So then Carmody comes along and is the ONLY coach in NU’s history to deliver 20-win seasons (twice) and is responsible for three of NU’s six NIT appearances. Keep in mind that he did this with about the same resources that Foster and O’Neill (and all other coaches) had many years before. No offense to Pat Ryan because he is very generous in his giving to NU, but Welsh-Ryan is still the same glorified high school gym that it was in the mid-1980s. In fact, there are other high school gyms that are better. Exactly what resources as the athletic department put into the facilities? What chance is the administration giving to any coach to field a men’s basketball team at NU that can make the NCAA tournament? You are not going to do better than Carmody unless you first the program the resources it needs to win. And if you provide those resources, I fail to see how you are going to do better than a man who has done so much with very litte.

  • bandcat

    Well said LTP. I have said it before and i remain highly skeptical for our chances next year with everyone returning and healthy. The B1G is going to be as tough or tougher next year. I just did not see enough gut level toughness and athleticism from our 5 spot this year to convince me. If Doctor Jim has the feelers out it is time to SHOW SOMEBODY THE MONEY. Build it and they will come to me means a winning team not the facility. W/R is not a cornfield and can be brought up to speed. Lets give the new guy a roster that gives him a shot with his system. Thanks and Go Cats!

    • Clueless

      Clueless…utterly clueless. If BC is fired the “new guy” will not be getting anything more than $1 million…which already narrows down the list dramatically. As for facilities, basketball isn’t seeing shit for at least 6-7 years. And have you not been in Welsh-Ryan Arena? It’s awful. 70% of mid-majors have nicer gyms than we do. And our home games are actually neutral games with a big N-Cat on the floor. You’re right…candidates will be lining up for this job! haha

      • bandcat

        Yep been to W/R many times…you need to fill it with Purple. The stadium can be put on life support with some money until you develop a winner.If NU is not willing to shell out for a proven Coach.. then WE have a B1G problem. Were you around when The Depaul Blue Demons were Chicago’s Team? Winners fill stadiums..Nuff said…

  • You convinced me, LTP. I was all for “one more year”, but you’re right that Carmody’s not the one to get us over the hump. On to a new future!

  • cebpd

    The difference between now and ANY time in the past is that the Athletic department and JP have the full support of the Administration. Morty LOVES football/BBALL and wants to see them succeed, unlike Bienen and past Presidents. That’s what none of you realize…The new coach will have support and facilities that would never have happened under ANY of the administrations before this.

  • Felis Silvestris

    I graduated from NU in the 1970’s and have followed our basketball program ever since (having season tickets for 22 years). I know D-1 basketball coaches, former recruiters, coaches in other sports, AAU basketball coaches and former NU hoops players. My opinion may not be correct but I certainly feel it has its logical basis behind it. I feel I have a pretty good idea of what the competitive landscape is like out there regarding recruitment of top level D-1 basketball players.

    THE ONLY REASON to replace Carmody is if a clear upgrade at the head coaching position is willing to come to Evanston. By clear upgrade I’m referring to coaches like Smart and Stevens. In my opinion, even if you threw $3 MIL a year at either of these guys they wouldn’t come here. The reasons (inadequate facilities, admission issues regarding many high level athletes, NU’s basketball history, not having a true home court advantage etc…) have been brought up time and again in many articles and blogs here. These issues are REAL …

    A current “hot” name like Collins (with no past head coaching experience) has no better chance to succeed given the current limitations than any other supposed “rising star coach of the future” out there does. Given these real limitations, the expectation levels of many Fire Carmody bloggers are simply unreasonable. Hiring a coach like Collins is much more likely to put the program in reverse than move it forward. I witnessed lots and lots of really bad basketball from the mid-1970’s thru 1999. Teams didn’t even prepare for playing us and still dominated us. A typical Big Ten season was two victories for the season.

    A couple other points > Comparing football recruiting to basketball recruiting is like comparing apples to oranges. Two different sets of athletes. Sure, you pick up two to three studs in hoops your team is set … the problem is that it’s much, much harder to get those rare commodities. This is especially true when factoring in the admissions issues at NU. The pool of HS football players is much larger. The gradual implementation of Title IX in fact is one catalyst that helped us improve in football. Many years ago our first string right tackle probably was at the level of Michigan’s fourth or fifth string right tackle. No more, no more (thank goodness!). Another underweighted factor (on LTP blogs) is the fact that the Big Ten is much stronger at basketball than football nowadays. Like it or not, all conferences are second fiddle relative to the SEC in football. In any given year (like this year) the Big Ten is the deepest hoops conference in the country.

    A point regarding big men … the last strong big we had here was Eschmeyer. The head coach during his final two seasons here was Kevin O’Neill, who came here with a reputation as a top flight recruiter. O’Neill didn’t recruit him but inherited him. So we had a future (borderline, perhaps due to injuries) NBA center to go along with an aggressive sure fire recruiter. Well, the results speak for themselves. We won 3 and 6 Big Ten games during Eschmeyer’s final two seasons. The next season, with O’Neill but not Eschmeyer, we won ZERO Big Ten games. Exit O’Neill.

    The two most important positions to recruit in college basketball are 1’s and 5’s. Its true Carmody hasn’t signed a strong five, but Sina rates as a very solid pickup at point guard. If Sina turns out to be legit he should be a strong contributor here for four years.

    One last note > Anyone that thinks that this year’s collapse can’t be attributed to injuries just doesn’t understand basketball in the first place. Folks, there are five players on the floor at once … if you lose three key pieces, best of luck to you … one has to be one heck of a chess player to win a match playing without a queen, a rook and a bishop if your opponent is fully loaded.

    Bottom line, I’m somewhat amazed at many blogger’s Pie in the Sky outlook regarding our basketball program IF we replace Carmody. Its completely unrealistic given the current environment. What makes much more sense to me (unless someone like Stevens or Smart suffers from a $3+ MIL/ year brain cramp) is to retain Carmody … hope that the gradual improvement of our basketball recruitment level leads to continued improvement … keep expectations in the short term realistic … perhaps sneak into the Big Dance once in the next three years or so … make a stronger administrative and financial committment to basketball and its facilities in 3-5 years … all of which gives us a much better and realistic shot at hiring a true up and coming D-1 coach (right about the time that BC may want to think about retirement anyways).

    • Thanks for the well thought through post. I argued that this is an AND not an OR as it relates to replacing Carmody AND making a major investment in hoops. I thought I was clear on that, perhaps not as clear as I thought. I don’t expect things to magically change with a new head coach and not addressing the non-academic issues you and I both addressed. However, to your point, in hoops 1s and 5s are the most important and while we do have Sina coming in (after a nice run by Juice Thompson), we haven’t had a 5 to write about yet.

  • NUdone88

    Besides Chris Collins idea who can we attract for Head Coach!?!? TH is not the answer. Sorry Keep Fred Hill as an assistant.

    • cebpd


      • LMFAO

        Haha…that’s funny

    • CatFan

      If you really think Hill would stay on as an assistant you’ve got another thing coming. And yes, Sina will most likely de-commit as well. As for TH, how do you know he couldn’t get the job done if there is indeed a change? Collins and Hardy are both Associate Head Coaches and Hardy has plenty more experience understanding what it takes to win at NU than Collins does my friend.

  • John the Cook

    I thought LTP’s post today was very fair and it gave both sides of the argument. The main point I took is that if NU really does want basketball to be on the same trajectory as football, there needs to be MAJOR and multifaceted commitment to winning. I think almost everyone agrees that a new coach is not a sufficient condition, but reasonable minds can disagree whether it’s a necessary condition.

    I, for one, think Carmody has won more during his 14 years than most coaches would have in a similar circumstance. But I’m torn because I’ve also never seen in my 40+ years a conference champion that is one-dimensional. B1G champions can play multiple defenses and tempos, rebound on both sides of the floor, and they have to be defended both inside and out. No team is perfect, but I find it difficult to envision Bill Carmody recruiting and leading a team with that kind of talent and approach.

    In my opinion, the path to excellence ultimately does include a coaching change… but that’s only the last 25% of it. Any change is a gamble, but now’s the time where we should be aggressive because we’re sitting at a blackjack table with a hot deck. Fitz and football have broken through some of the “coaching graveyard” cobwebs, the BTN has dramatically helped our exposure, and the reduced scholarship numbers helps lessen the talent gap. Plus, as much as we’re still challenged academically, the disparity between NU and the rest of the conference is not as great as it once was in terms of getting kids into school and through graduation. (Tex Winter and Rich Falk got screwed hardest by this disparity, as the late 70s and early 80s era was a joke academically at most schools and meanwhile was the least athlete-friendly era at NU. The NCAA and NU have both made some changes since then.) Given our relatively advantageous position, now’s the time to WIN!!!

    The real question is what is the University willing to do to make NU different than it has been (e.g., facilities, recruiting, etc.)? You think someone different has a higher upside? I agree. But I also think that same someone probably has a lower downside. That’s why the coaching change needs to be last piece of this puzzle.

    Thanks for the good work, LTP!

    • Perhaps this should’ve been the post. Well done John.

  • Al

    I think last year was the ceiling for Carmody. If making the NIT in 4 out of 13 years is good enough for you, then by all means keep him. If you want to try for great things, you’ve got to look somewhere else. However, just changing the coach will be like simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. A complete overhaul of facilities and a significant commitment to the program by the administration is also required.

    • Wow

      Actually we made the NIT in four out of the last four years AI…but let’s just fire the guy who accumulated like 75 wins the last four seasons…get a clue

  • hoverlow

    Actually now that our fball program has changed the perception about its quality, it should be easier for a new bball coach to do it. At least easier than the past. We need a new coach. We will never get to the tourney under carmody

    • CatFan

      You have any evidence to support this idiotic conclusion hoverlow? Or would you rather just keep making childish comments? I’m assuming you’re probably a freshman at NU judging by the lack of thought that went into this post….

      • ShutUp

        CatFan, you’re a D

      • Play nice. He’s entitled to an opinion but doesn’t deserve a personal attack.

      • db

        It’s actually a very useful point. catfan are you really suggesting that selling the NU opportunity to potential coaches is not helped by showing a consistently successful football program? that bball coaches would not find that a useful fact in determining the ability to succeed? I’ll go with a personal attack on this one LTP, catfan – you are a complete idiot.

  • Gladeskat

    I hereby award a medal to anybody who read this entire article without developing a headache.

  • SoCal Scott

    Wow…pretty heated posts. Agree with the conclusion that it does not matter what we think, post, or rant; others will make this decision.

    I heard Morty speak in LA last month. Among his comments: (i) NU will not field teams that are not competitive, (ii) NU will win the NU way, (iii) one of his outstanding goals he set for the University when he arrived was making the dance. It was pretty clear to me leaving the room full of soCal alums, Carmody is a goner; Morty all but said it out loud.

  • Cletown Joe

    There is a lot of talk here about Carmody reaching his ceiling. This seems like a big assumption lacking in factual support. Since the abismal 2008 season we have seen improvement every year (this year being unfair to rate) and seen the quality of recruits steadily improve. With our highest rated recruit coming in next year why are so many people saying Carmody has taken them as far as he can? The program and talent is still trending up. The gains have been very slow but until I see a slide I think it is fair to continue to allow Carmody to drive the bus up that slow incline.

    Secondly, the argument that Carmody’s system has a ceiling that is too limiting makes a huge assumption that Carmody is a one trick pony. To think that Carmody won’t adjust his style as the talent level he coaches improves is doing him a great disservice.

    Finally, I agree that Carmody has his weakneses as a coach. There are areas I wish he was better at coaching (rebounding, in game motivation) but that doesn’t mean he is not the best option available to NU right now.

    • cebpd

      abismal? Really?

  • db

    By the way, does anyone give a rat’s ass about the kids in the program? If they bring him back, it is clearly a win or go home year. How do you put that kind of pressure on these kids? How tight will they be, flat out playing for their coach’s job? Coach has already openly admitted that he is distracted about job speculation, so how would that be fair for the kids, to ramp that even more?

  • db

    i love that people on here are saying that there is literally “no argument” to change coaches when we have never finished better than .500 in conference, in a conference that by the way was historically bad for most of his tenure.

    Lets be clear, the base case is to fire a coach that inspires no interest and a 13 year streak of losing records. It isnt the other way around. However, there is a case to keep him – and that is driven by If your goal for this program is to poke around the NIT or fringes of the ncaa tournament every once in a while, and that no one else could give you that + upside.

    Personally I have a higher bar, and that is driven by a football program that is a top 25 program in a much more difficult sport to compete in. And by the way, their facilities suck too, and fitz is underpaid relative to jobs he could get (even taking out that carmody is being paid a premium to his open market value.

    contrary to unsubtantiated excitement, we have never come within 8 spots of getting in, which means we have never even been on the bubble. If your bar is to never crack the top 70, then i just dont agree with your goals, let alone coach.

    • Mark

      8 out of the 48 Final Four teams are from the Big Ten during Carmody’s tenure. I don’t know if that supports your “historically” bad statement or not. Additionally, you have 3 other appearances of the 48 being teams from the upper Midwest – Marquette once and Butler twice.

      I do, however, agree with the fact that it’s time to move on. We know the results Carmody can produce. He now has had 8 or 9 classes of players he’s recruited and coached. No sign that it will get better and the results are, at best, mediocre.

      I can’t believe that people think that a Big Ten job, in a major city, making a substantial salary, in a recruiting hotbed region, would not be attractive.

      • db

        having 1-2 good teams a year does not make a good conference. at no time over the past 13 years has the conference been remotely this good. Depth wise it absolutely has been historically bad both relative to what it has been and what it is now.

        If anything having 8 different teams do that underscores the parity and that every decent team was able to make a move and not get held back by a dominant team or 2. we did not.

        • Mark

          Agree. This year is amazing – one of the top ranked teams in the country, UofMichigan, is seated 5th and doesn’t get a first round bye in the conference tournament.

          • db

            guess what? this isnt changing. even the bad programs are ramping up. we missed our window with a down B1G. We could improve 20% and move backwards relative to the conference.

  • Farmer

    The thrust : ¨We need to change coaches, and, oh, yes, (almost incidentally) some other things too,¨ puts too much emphasis on a coaching change being the silver bullet.

    This fails to recognize that these other things, to wit, new facilities, are clearly are our transcendent need. By putting so much emphasis on a coaching change, we are taking the administration off the hook as to our dire, desperate need for outstanding new facilities, just like we have done in the past 50 years or so.

    In those years, the hue and cry was up then too for a coaching change. And the administration responded with coaching luminaries like Bill Foster, Tex Winter, and Kevin O´Neill. But did the administration give those coaches what they really needed to succeed, decent facilities, et cetera?

    NOPE! So, each failed.

    And here we are years later back at square one.

    And once again we´re likely going to get what we are screaming for, a new coach. Yep, one more time we´re setting the stage for another 20 years or so of BB ineptitude, by letting the administration placate us by giving us what we´re PRINCIPALLY asking for. But will they give this new coach the adequate facilities he will need to turn the program around?

    No way. It will be the same old story.

    Again, our emphasis should be on our greatest need, BETTER, competitive BB facilities. By screaming so loudly about our coach and what he has not done in 13 years, deemphasizes the reality that the administration has not given him the tools to otherwise.

    Bottom line: Past is prologue.

    We need outstanding new facilities. Without them, NO COACH will succeed here.

    Facilities, facilities, facilities, should be the cry, not a new coach!

    • Aaron

      Using that logic then, how did NU football ever win back-to-back B1G titles playing at pre-renovated Dyche Stadium? And keep in mind, the new athletic complex would have had no bearing on the recruitment Kain Colter, Venric Mark, and the core of the last 5 football teams.

      • Farmer

        Do I need to say the obvious?: Football is a different ball game!

      • cebpd

        you can’t use the outlier to prove points.

  • Lu-O-Meter

    Those of you who think Carmody runs a good system may be right – but why couldn’t another coach run the same system if it’s appropriate for the players on the roster? Does Carmody have a patent on the 1-3-1 and the Princeton offense? Is it so complicated that only a genius can implement it (and is Carmody really a genius)? Unlike others, I don’t think we need a rock star coach to replace Carmody. I don’t even think we should try to get a rock star. Gary Barnett wasn’t a rock star when we got him for football, and neither was Pat Fitzgerald. We need a hungry, enthusiastic coach who knows the game and who can turn our “negatives” (a small arena, high academic standards) into positives. We need to pluck that guy from anonymity. I guarantee he’s out there. There are probably more than 500 names to sort through (head coaches at minor programs, assistant coaches at big programs, etc). Somebody, somewhere from that list of 500 — a guy you’ve never heard of — will get hired into his first big-time head coaching job this off-season and become a stud. I realize it isn’t easy to identify that coach and get him on-board. But we should try. Carmody has done some good things, but he’s not the answer.

  • I’m with LTP here, both in terms of his ultimate conclusion (“it’s time for a change”) as well as his observation of the discussion (“if we’re having this argument again in 2014, I’ll go nuts”).

    As to the former- as others have said, 13 years is a pretty large sample size. Some want to limit the sample though, to knock off both the first 8 years (“too stale”) and this past season (“too abnormal due to injuries”). We do something like this in my line of work; it’s called normalization. The point is to determine what is representative of a going-forward basis. The problem with normalizing as the Carmody supporters would like is that it’s cherry-picking- let’s choose the positive year, throw out the negative years as unrepresentative, and the result is that we have a great coach. But that’s cheating. In reality, a normalized data set would show a program that is capable of getting to the NIT from time to time, and occasionally winning a game. That’s where this program is. In other words, we’re somewhere in the 80-120 range of basketball programs, and our historical performance provides no basis for us doing any better than that.

    “But- but- Jaren Sina!” Yeah, I remembered when he was named Jershon Cobb. Nice player. But unless it’s Lew Fucking Alcindor, one player isn’t going to make the difference with this team.

    As to LTP’s comments on the discussion- I cannot agree more. It’s the same goddamned thing every year.The same arguments, pro and con. Thing is, if the change isn’t made this year, the easiest money you’ll ever make is by betting we’ll be having the same debate next year.

    One difference, though, is the tone of the debaters has flipped 180 degrees. Time was, those of us in favor of moving on were likely more shrill than those wanting to keep him. Now it’s the Carmody supporters who are pulling out the hysterics. It’s essentially what lawyers refer to as “pounding on the table,” and reflects that neither the facts nor the logic really support their position any more.

    • Bucky, really liked the normalization line and the 80-120 estimate. Perhaps many of you that are smarter than mez iz could put together an actual statistical comparative chart of what the 13-years “normalized” looks like. would be beyond me on how to relate that fairly to the other BCS programs during that time, but objective metrics would help.

  • Alan Casey

    Not the plan. Carmody stays until either 1) he leaves on his terms – handing off a solid program to his choosen replacement; or 2) the admin is ready to pony up a large investment to promise a new hire the stadium and practice / training facilities to compete for top recruits.

    Until the investment comes – Carmody is doing as well as anyone can be expected to do.

    I continue to think that Carmody is in the NCAA tourney in the next two years. Here or somewhere else.

    PS Thanks for all your work and progress here at NU coach!


    If Carmody is not fired last year, I cannot see the justification for this year. If I were Phillips, I would tell him irregardless of injuries, it is the NCAA or bust. That’s it. One more year to make the Tourney. The only way I would adjust this is approach is if the ‘feelers’ out there for a new hire indicated a coach willing to take the job who was a ‘no-brainer’. I was impressed with the adjustments that Carmody made this year as a coach and think the injuries/ineligible player were on the extreme side. That side, I am still open to a change. Yet, I respect the work Carmody has done. He has made the job much more appealing since he was hired. For that, he deserves a level of respect.

  • I’m on the side of keeping Carmody. Looking back over decades of NU basketball, he’s got the best record – hands down. Bringing in a “hot” or up-and-coming coach only means that he’ll be here for a short while to prep for a bigger payday in his next job. He’ll either make it work with the currrent players or go down in flames and move-on. Either way, I think it will disrupt the recruiting momentum that Carmody has been building.

    HOWEVER, I’ve been upset at 2 things:
    1. Conditioning. I have to place the blame on the number of injuries on a less-than-effective conditioning and weight training program. This would need to be fixed.
    2. Discipline.
    a. If we’re going to run this offense, we need to run it ruthlessly and make the opponents pay the price. I don’t hold with the “it equalizes us against teams with more talented players” philosophy. If those players were that talented, the offense wouldn’t work against them. Plus with the right conditioning, we can press the opponent all day long.
    b. Rebounding – If a shot goes up in the air, turn to the basket, find an opposing player and box-out!

  • Providence B

    In this era where loyalty among pro athletes and coaches is virtually non-existant, let’s do things a little differently at NU by sticking with Bill Carmody. Let’s be a place where commitment and loyalty and making steady progress means something.

    I think he’s the ideal “transitional” coach to keep us from being embarrassing until we get better facilities and resources in place. I think an NCCA bid is well within reach next year and for the next four years but don’t think that’s the end game at all. It’s not likely that we will ever be even a top half BIG team on a regular basis but it would be nice if we could get there once a decade or so. That’s probably the best we can expect.

    I feel better keeping BC in place for the next 3-5 years until we can build towards that point. Let him retire from NU with a winning record and be warmly remembered as the guy who stopped the bleeding. Assuming we have better resources in place by then, that is time to raise the bar on the next coach.

    This was a very disappointing season after five years of much-improved teams. But making a change now without the resources in place doesn’t improve our odds at all.