Monday, May 3, 2010

The Welsh Era Ends Before It Started

I thought this song was very appropriate for what's going on in the Hofstra basketball world. Plus a little Stevie Ray always helps a bad situation.

Well as you all know by now, Tim Welsh resigned today as head coach of Hofstra.   Welsh put himself in a no win situation by being arrested for DWI early Friday morning and registering a .18 blood alcohol level two hours after he was arrested, more than double the legal limit.  Chances are he would have been likely fired if he didn't resign, and Brian Mull tweeted that he was "forced to resign".

And if that was indeed the case, that Welsh was forced to resign, Hofstra did the right thing.  Yes, there was a lot of bad press surrounding the Welsh arrest.  It was the top headline on ESPN since the arrest occurred Friday morning.   And this morning, as I drove into work, Boomer and Carton on the FAN discussed the matter, both noting that Welsh had to be fired due to that high blood alcohol level (more on that in a second).

But it wasn't just the bad press that was a deciding factor in Welsh's resignation.   Welsh had been at the position 33 days.  He had no years of good will vested in the position where a mistake, even huge as this one, might have been looked at with a lenient light.

Welsh was also at an academic institution, where he was looked at as not just a coach, but a leader of young men.  Your players need to believe you when you tell them "That’s what you are as a coach: You’re a teacher too, and you’re kind of a father to these guys, because you’re with them everyday. So you’ve got to continually try to teach life lessons."  Then you go out and get arrested for DWI in a county that is rightfully strict on drunk drivers given recent history.  Will those players be able to trust you or take you seriously, especially since you have been on the job barely a month?  No.

Then there was the matter of the university finding out through news reports that he had been arrested instead of being contacted by Welsh directly.  That notes a serious lack of responsibility on Welsh's part.   And finally, the .18 blood alcohol level is not the characteristic of someone not realizing they had one too many drinks that night.  Had it been .09, then perhaps (and that's a slight perhaps), you could maybe have some leniency towards Welsh.   The fact that it was .18 denotes a hardcore drinker, or at least a hardcore drinking night.  It really is amazing that he didn't end up hurting or killing someone when the police found him asleep at the wheel.

Welsh still has to face the DWI charge.  Whether he accepts a plea deal or has his day in court, his career for now is ruined.  And he has no one to blame for this but himself.

Now Jack Hayes has the unenviable position of having to decide whether to start from scratch and hire a new coach or perhaps let one of the already hired Welsh assistants, Steve DeMeo or Mo Cassara have a chance at the job on an interim basis.  Hayes may very well decide that's its best to have no remnants of the Welsh regime at Hofstra and bring someone new in.  He could also go back and hire Van Macon to bring stability to the program.  Names such as former St John's coach Norm Roberts and West Virginia assistant coach Larry Harrison are being bandied about as well.

As for the Pride players, they will soon have their third coach in the span of two plus months.   For seniors, Charles Jenkins, Greg Washington and Nathaniel Lester, along with now eligible Brad Kelleher and Fordham transfer Mike Moore, there is likely nowhere to go and they will stay.  However, Chaz Williams couldn't be blamed if he decided to seek another home, along with the other underclassmen such as Yves Jules and David Imes.  Halil Kanacevic had already received his release prior and Branden Frazier decided to follow Pecora to Fordham.

And then there are the incoming freshmen as well Marvin Dominique and Devon McMillan.  What will they decide to do?   And with apparently two scholarship openings remaining, will anyone want to come here now to fill them (Josh Elbaum is probably now off the radar)?

The program is truly at a crossroads and it's not a good thing for the players or the fan base the school is trying to increase. What seemed like such promise a month ago with an established coach in Welsh with a seemingly talented senior laden team, is now up in the air with fans openly concerned (and rightfully so).    One man's incredibly poor judgement not just ruined his career but may have set the program back at least a year, maybe two, maybe even more.

How this all plays out in the next several weeks is anybody's guess. For Hofstra basketball fans it seems grim.   And I can't tell you it's not. As I noted in my previous post, the rough times started weeks ago and hit a real bad point the last few days with the Welsh DWI and subsequent "resignation".  As bad as it seems, it may actually get worse before it gets better.

As Stevie Ray once sang, "Understand, it's time to get ready for the storm."

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