Friday, August 10, 2012

Tough to Make Call on Best/Worst Coaching Jobs

Don't you just love it when so-called college basketball "experts" out there in the internet world talk about the MAAC without, in almost all certainty, a lot of actual insight?

Latest case in point: A recent ESPN blog seeking to identify the best and worst coaching jobs in every basketball conference. The "rankings" were done, according to the blog, by 14 television analysts or writers from the network who are involved in college basketball in some form or other.

Here's what the ESPN blog came up with for the best and worst of MAAC jobs ...

Best: Siena -- The Saints haven't been able to find their footing post-Fran McCaffery, but our voters still consider this the top spot in the MAAC.

Worst: Canisius -- This school went to three straight NCAA tourneys from 1955-57 and have been back exactly once since.

OK ... let's examine the source. How many of ESPN's full-time analysts and/or writers actually deign to actually attend a MAAC game? Radio talkshow host Freddie Coleman, who once plied his trade in the Albany, N.Y., area, has been attending MAAC post-season tournaments for years. But, the very strong guess here is that Coleman wasn't on the "committee of experts" who helped make these dubious ratings.

ESPN also employs Fran Fraschilla, who actually coached in the MAAC (Manhattan) in the mid-1990's, but Fraschilla is so heavily involved in basketball overseas as part of his ESPN duties that another guess here is that he didn't vote..

MAAC games do get on ESPN's family of outlets on occasion, but there isn't a lot of behind-the-scenes work done by the network's staff beyond getting ready for the specific game

Why are we taking offense? First, trying to figure the best and worst of any job is a difficult task without knowing the inner workings at each school, and not even the dedicated beat writers/radio and TV personalities in each MAAC team's respective market truly know enough about that to really make a definitive statement about this topic.

It's a knee-jerk reaction to pick Siena's the best coaching job in the MAAC, since the Saints have had so much recent success, play in a large arena and draw, by far, the conference's largest crowds.

But, what about Fairfield, which has had some success of late and also plays in a good-sized arena?

Worst job? How can one identify Canisius? Clearly, administrators there have made more of a commitment than ever to the men's program with the hiring of former Rhode Island coach Jim Baron and, according to a variety of published reports, increasing the program's budget for recruiting and for salaries of assistant coaches.

Are facilities part of the equation? Other than Siena and Fairfield, no other MAAC program plays in anything other than a mid-major level on-campus gym, all fairly similar to each other.

The MAAC has consistently maintained a membership of schools of similar size and philosophy. The goal, theoretically, is to ensure that none of the member institutions places an overly abundant more emphasis on their athletic programs than other members.

In truth, the only way to truly judge the best or worst coaching jobs at a MAAC-level league is to exam financials to see what programs are most committed financially. Some of that information is available, but not all of it.

And, for the most part, the school's academic budgets are well within reason of each other, enough so that it's difficult even for the most-dedicated of MAAC reporters/followers to truly be able to identify the best and worst coaching opportunities.

In reality, that's truly a subjective call. And, for sure, a large and national entity like ESPN, whose college basketball reporters/analysts have minimal contact with the MAAC, probably aren't qualified to make that kind of judgment.

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