It has been a thrilling day for fans of DePaul basketball. The relief that many fans have felt over the firing of the very quotable Jerry Wainwright has been expressed on message boards, article comments and every other forum available. Even though it's not for a good reason, the national media is talking about the Blue Demons again.
DePaul is about to make an exciting and expensive leap into the foray that is competitive college basketball in a major conference like the Big East. It is obvious there is no turning back now. Jean Lenti Ponsetto needs the men's basketball team to win. Sure, the 11 other Big East programs at DePaul succeed on a consistent basis, but the basketball teams (men's and women's) are the faces of the program. They are the ones that brand the school as winners and losers.
The Chicago Tribune released new numbers today that say that from July 2008 to June 2009 DePaul spent the 2nd fewest dollars on men's basketball in the Big East. The Blue Demons spent $3.257 million on basketball during that fiscal year. Marquette spent almost $7 million more. There's a reason that the Golden Eagles' program continues to climb.
Whether Ponsetto is willing to spend that kind of money to bring a big name that can recruit in Chicago and nationally, to win games in the Big East and bring excitement back will show the commitment of the program.
The fact is everyone has their own opinion about what Ponsetto and DePaul should do next. After the jump are a bunch of opinions from around the country.
One of the favorite memes from Wainwright's firing is that he never really stood a chance at DePaul. (Like this from Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News or this from NBCSports' Mike Miller.) That strikes me as a bit odd. Wainwright himself said in his statement that the athletic department did a lot to support him.
Sure, Allstate Arena is far from campus (trust me, I know, I drive there), but it could be a great arena. I've never seen it full, but apparently filling it isn't a problem when DePaul is winning. (Rick Morrissey thinks the Blue Demons need to get the heck out.) Also, playing in the Big East isn't a problem when you have Big East talent, but when you're consistently playing walk-ons looking for a spark there's a larger problem at hand.
The best articles of the day though came from where you'd expect, the local writers and people in tune with the city of Chicago. Mike Greenberg's ESPN piece, which takes us to Morgan Park, is an excellent read. The column takes the reader into the heart of Chicago-area recruiting and vividly demonstrates the challenges a new coach will face. The Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton does the same, but from the perspective of the athletics spending at an administrative level. You could read it for the lede alone, but the outside perspective of Steve Lappas is good too.
Finally, the Daily Herald's Lindsey Willhite offered a different type of blog post. It is part thought experience, part opinion, part talk-radio, part newspaper and in the end it works. It has anecdotes you can only have from being there. (And a congrats to WeAreDePaul for their hits record.) Willhite's post ends searching for who the next head coach might be and many people have opinions about that as well.
Jeff Goodman on FoxSports.com wrote on Monday that he thinks Wainwright failed because he wasn't a local guy. (Which he actually was, so that's sort of weird.) So he proposes two popular possible hires: Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery and Oregon State's Craig Robinson, amongst others.
Speaking of possible replacements, NBE Basketball Report threw out a bunch of other names that DePaul could consider during their search. That list includes Robinson and former Detroit Piston and current Florida International head coach Isiah Thomas. Honestly, I don't think Thomas' name, which has been floated other places, makes much sense. In one season at FIU he is 5-14, and that's in the Atlantic Sun. There's no way he's ready for the Big East right now.
ESPN's Greenberg and Scott Powers toss a few more hats into the ring. They agree with NBE on the fact that Duke's Chris Collins should be approached, but has a Coach K assistant ever won anywhere else after leaving the nest? Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobsen would be a great hire, but DePaul would have to convince him to leave a very good situation in the Missouri Valley Conference.
It is obvious that DePaul has a long road ahead of them and it's only just beginning. Monday was a baby step.
Updated at 8:46 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2010 to add Morrissey's column.