Chuck Landon: Marshall still has problems to solve for its new coach
Changing coaches isn't going to cure what ails the Marshall men's basketball program.
Other changes are more vital.
A change in culture.
A change in resources.
A change in status.
Until Marshall quits treating basketball like a step-child, officials could hire the second-coming of John Wooden as head coach and still not attain the level of success everyone desires.
That's why forcing Tom Herrion to resign on Friday won't solve the Herd's overall lack of success. It's merely the latest Band-Aid in a long list of bandages.
Add Herrion's name to a roll-call including Donnie Jones, Ron Jirsa, Greg White, Billy Donovan, Dwight Freeman and Dana Altman.
Those are Marshall's last seven head basketball coaches. The one thing they have in common is none of them coached Marshall to the Holy Grail of collegiate basketball - the NCAA Tournament.
Because Marshall's officials don't treat basketball like the marquee sport they expect it to be.
Yet, the expectations remain.
"I'm not interested in the NIT," said Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick during a press conference Friday. "I'm interested in winning the conference and going to the NCAA Tournament."
That means being willing to make a real commitment to men's basketball.
Marshall did not fly charter a single time in Herrion's four seasons. Not once. But other Conference USA schools charter on a regular basis.
Tulsa, for example, chartered from Tulsa to Charlotte for a Thursday night contest. Immediately after the game, Tulsa got back on the charter and was in a Huntington hotel by bed-time. Then, after a Saturday afternoon win over Marshall, they got back on the charter and returned to Tulsa.
Tulsa's team was home after that game before Herrion was.
That's how a marquee program travels.
When the Herd lost in the 2012 C-USA Tournament championship game in Memphis, it bused back to Huntington. Then, when MU received an NIT bid to play Middle Tennessee near Nashville a few days later, the team bused there, too.
Is it any wonder the disgruntled Herd lost?
Yet, when Marshall's football team played at Middle Tennessee last season, did it bus? No. It flew charter.
Several times a season, Marshall has to practice in that antiquated gym because the women's team or volleyball has the Henderson Center court. It's an embarrassment for a Division I basketball program to have to practice in a gym where I played intramurals in 1969. It's probably the same rims.
The sports information department has two full-time employees. The assistant handles men's basketball. But when Steve Schoon took a job at South Florida a few weeks before this season began, MU didn't replace him. Instead, MU saved a few bucks by giving the duties to a graduate assistant.
It sends all the wrong messages about priorities.
Instead of complaining about "The Cam," why doesn't MU enhance the building by adding luxury boxes on the concourse levels and getting rid of about 2,000 seats?
Either address these issues or temper expectations. That's the choice. But too often Marshall prefers to make the coach a scapegoat.
There's a reason Marshall hasn't reached the NCAAs in 27 years. It's because MU hasn't made a real commitment to a head coach since Rick Huckabay.
Isn't it about time?
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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