USF’s Coaching Dilemma

Whether USF did the right thing by keeping head basketball coach Robert McCullum through at least next season remains to be seen. In all likelihood, the university has deferred by a year what seems inevitable: the replacement of a good guy who can’t get it done at this level. It will mean only two – not three — seasons of a contract buyout next year.

Under McCullum USF has played 86 games and won 27. The Bulls have lost 20 games or more in two of his three years at the USF helm. In its first season of Big East play, the Bulls went 0-15 – pending the outcome of the season’s finale against Georgetown. The team was on a year-long collision course for a worst-in-its-history season. Nostalgia for the Seth Greenberg era is never a good sign.

But what has been determined is that USF, however tempted, will not be going after former University of Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins.

Good. Huggins gives “outlaw” a bad name.

Allowances – notably injuries and departures for various reasons – can be factored into McCullum’s woeful record. He’s had success earlier in his career, and he comports himself in a dignified fashion. His Bulls were never criticized for work ethic and scared some really good teams along the way. He could yet return this program to respectability, if that’s the goal, although he would have to do it in the country’s toughest conference, the Big East.

In short, don’t count on this being anything other than a one-year reprieve. He’s still not shown the ability to recruit competitively, and that’s truly the name of this game. It’s especially critical in basketball where a program can literally be turned around over night with a couple of prized recruits.

But at least USF, desperate as it is to escape its embarrassing rock bottom-feeder status in Big East hoops, has shown it’s not about to make a deal with the devil. At least for next year, McCullum will be the coach – not Faust.

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