Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tommy Amaker should begin looking for boxes

I don't think I've performed the stomp-up-and-down/coach-gots-to-go dance too many times in the year-and-a-half life span of this sports blog. Maybe a search through the SME archives will eventually prove me wrong, but the only coach I can recall saying should absolutely be fired was Steve Mariucci.

Bringing out the pitchforks and torches for a coach's head often seems too easy. (Although one guy I can think of has made something of a career out of it.) Team's not playing well? Fire the coach! It's quick and no hassle - the sports equivalent of heating up a frozen entree in the microwave.

And it's not just that it's a relatively easy solution to propose, but it's become such a lame cliché for the mainstream media - especially TV announcers - to lean on when talking about a coach under fire. Talk about those bloggers, talk show callers, and message board hounds, and then chuckle dismissively, like they're some weird cult that heads out to Area 51 every year waiting for a UFO. (No offense if you actually do that, of course. We all have our hobbies and passions.)

But after Michigan's likely NIT-clinching loss to Iowa last night, I think the time has come to head into the garage or stop at your local hardware store for supplies. (Remember - just about anything with a handle makes a good torch with the right amount of lighter fluid.) The mob is beginning to grow, and I think it has a pretty damn solid case to back up its outrage now.

Maize n Brew puts it rather succinctly. Brevity is the soul of wit, as Shakespeare once wrote.

Michigan Sports Center is giving up and just doesn't care anymore.

♦ The Detroit News' Eric Lacy used the phrase "Detroit Lionsesque" in describing the current state of the team. So you know that can't be good.

♦ The Freep's Michael Rosenberg thinks Amaker's team is a reflection of his personality.

♦ The Ann Arbor News' Jim Carty says Amaker is a dead coach walking.

Michigan's performance up until this point, along with its remaining schedule, had placed this game squarely in the "must-win" category. They were playing at home against a team that hadn't won a road game all season. How do you become a good team, one that can make it to the NCAA Tournament? Well, beating the teams you're supposed to beat is a good start. So if Michigan can't even do that, what does that say about the coach?

What else does it say when your team blows a 14-point first-half lead and gets mowed over by a 20-1 run from the visiting club? Who does it reflect upon the most when one of your players says the team "let up"? And this is from a guy whose college career is largely defined by its overall lack of development. Hell, even he showed up last night, with 29 points and 11 rebounds.

Sure, you can point to the puny stat line (one point on 0-for-11 shooting) from a teammate who's arguably the team's best player. But bad games happen. Sometimes that ball just won't go in that hoop. That's basketball. So what then? Doesn't the coach need to come up with something to compensate? Steve Alford did.

What's so disheartening about this is that the Michigan basketball team suffered a near-identical collapse last year. It just feels like I've written this before. "Five years is five years...", "this senior class should've progressed...", "his players haven't gotten in four years under his tutelage..." We're almost at the end of Amaker's sixth season, and nothing appears to have changed. If last season's failure to win an NCAA Tournament bid was considered a disappointment, the expectation for the following year - especially when most of the players from that squad return - is obvious. So where does that leave us?

I'd pretty much bought into the argument that a school couldn't realistically expect to have top-notch football and basketball programs these days. You're either a football school or a basketball school. And I'd begun to accept that Tom Izzo cornered the basketball market in East Lansing, while football was king in Ann Arbor. But after looking at what Bruce Pearl's done at Tennessee - where men's basketball stood behind not only football but women's basketball in the pecking order - such resignations have blown up. He's changed the culture in Knoxville, he's fired up the fanbase, and most importantly, he's winning games in an elite conference. It absolutely is possible.

Michigan can do better than Tommy Amaker, and for the sake of its basketball program, it should start looking into an upgrade. And if you work in the shipping-and-receiving department of any businesses in Ann Arbor, keep some empty boxes on hand. An out-of-work head coach might come asking for them in a couple of months.

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  • At February 01, 2007 7:15 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    Let's be fair: Yes, Tommy Amaker needs to go. But let's also put the asterisk next to his name that says, "He was the right man for the job."

    He's had 6 years and hasn't done shit. While he's had some unfair problems to contend with, that's 4 more years than most coaches would get at a big school like Michigan.

    However, the coach before him was possibly the most incompetent boob known to man. And the program was not so much rollicking as rotting -- in disgrace, that is.

    Amaker has gotten a lot of recruits and has re-established some legitimacy in terms of honor and character.

    It seems sad to say when one looks at it like that, but the dude's gotta go.

    Hey, if the Pistons win the championship this year, maybe they can get Chris Webber to retire and be coach. He's got a big "basketball IQ," and all they have to do is get the Ed Martin estate to endow the coaching position. Hoo-ha!

  • At February 01, 2007 7:19 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    BTW, I hate Rob Parker too, but his article on the incoming UM recruits is actually pretty good.

    These are some good players that UM has; it'd be a shame to see them wasted under Tommy Amaker's "coaching."

  • At February 01, 2007 7:30 PM, Blogger Mike said…

    I know it's not kind to speak ill of the dead-Michigan-football-deity but, well, I gotsta.

    Rick Pitino was poised to spurn Louisville's offer and take over at Michigan only to change his mind -- coincidence or not -- shortly after Bo came out and grumbled "Michigan will never pay a basketball coach more than its football coach." You can just hear the disdain in Bo's voice as he uttered "basketball".

    Thanks for nothing, Bo.


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