A Good Divorce

Greg McDermott made the smart and right move to return to MVC basketball. He will be Creighton's new coach on Tuesday.

The old cliche “spring roared in like a lion” will be considered as the greatest understatement of 2010.  Several weeks ago, it was Todd Lickliter leaving (not by his own choice) and Fran McCaffery enters.

Today, it’s Greg McDermott who has decided to leave Iowa State and will be named the new men’s basketball coach at Creighton University on Tuesday morning.  Some will say “good riddance”and others will look at it in a more reasonable way and say “it’s probably the best for ISU and McDermott.” The latter is the best way to summarize it.  It helps Cyclone fans, it lifts a burden off of McDermott.  It’s a mutual separation with no ill-will towards each other, sans for a few knuckleheads.

Similar to Lickliter, McDermott worked hard to make things go in the right direction in Ames.  You can’t say that he didn’t try.  But, as with Lickliter, bad luck seems to find their way into situations where you least expect it.  When AD Jamie Pollard named him to replace Wayne Morgan, Curtis Stinson, Will Blaylock, and other players left the program, in deference and support of Morgan. Players leaving the program because they didn’t like playing set-screens and discipline basketball that works well in the Missouri Valley conference.

Dana Altman dealt with the same thing. He won games at Kansas St., but their fans were never happy. He went to Creighton, and now to Oregon.

The losses.  Yes the losses have been a major flaw.  Agonizing, puzzling, and tough to watch.  Unlike Lickliter who was more dissociated with individuals, McDermott wasn’t afraid to vent his frustration and how the program wasn’t meeting the expectations of the fans and the boosters.

Give him credit, he wasn’t afraid to take the heat and hear it.

But when Dana Altman decided that 16 years was enough at Creighton, AD Bruce Rasmussen didn’t waste time asking McDermott if he wanted to return to the Missouri Valley.  There is no mistake that McDermott is a smart guy and understood his situation.  If the Cyclones struggled again this winter, with Jeff Grayer and Nick Nurse recently joining the staff, he and his staff would be looking for work in March 2011.

There was no guarantee adding Jeff Grayer to the staff was going to turn it around.

That includes Grayer and Nurse.

Maybe it wasn’t worth having that risk play itself out, even after Cyclone fans were rankled after Pollard endorsed keeping McDermott for next year.  Yes, ISU is in a pickle now, but so is Creighton and Oregon, with respects to the recruiting season and getting prospects.  But this can’t be disputed:  Greg McDermott staved off the inevitable.  Which is being fired or forced to resign should things go wrong again this winter.

Was he over his head in the Big 12?  It’s likely he was in the area of recruiting and major conference players who’s sights are on the NBA.

The case studies of Todd Lickliter and Greg McDermott should be considered as examples of how to handle situations when it doesn’t work out.

I hate to include myself in this entry, but it’s just like the business world.  I worked at a place that after I arrived, wasn’t the right fit.  I worked hard and made every attempt to do make it successful.  The only regret I have is that I should have left earlier. My health could have benefited from it and I would have gotten a head-start on something new.

McDermott knew it was the right time to leave before the relationship further deteriorated.  Altman knew it was time to go as well.  His decision to take and then rescind the Arkansas job in 2007 was an indicator to him that he needed a new challenge.   Lickliter didn’t think he would be let go.

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