The Kinder Garden - 4/19/02

So much has transpired in the past few days, that there's hardly enough time to think about it all, much less talk about it. So, I'll stick with one topic in this edition.

The item most on my mind is the hiring of basketball coach John Beilein, who, despite an excellent resume, has received criticism from some quarters for a variety of reasons.

I'm not going to list all of those reasons here, but I do have one question for the critics: What are you people thinking?

When hiring a new coach, you pretty much have two options. You can hire someone who has achieved on your level, or you can hire someone who is working their way up the ladder.

It became apparent early on that WVU didn't have the money or the resources or the desire to lock up someone in the first category over the long term, so they went with the second.

Either strategy can work, so I don't have a problem with the latter methodology. People progress through jobs and earn promotions in almost every walk of life, and coaching is no different.

WVU has now gone with the "up and comer" three times in the past year and a half. Of those hires (Rich Rodriguez, Mike Carey or John Beilein), neither of the first two had been the head coach in a major Division 1 conference before their hiring at West Virginia. And Beilein had only last year's experience in the Atlantic Ten on that level, and that's a fingernail hold at best.

Rodriguez has endured some tough sledding out of the gate, but seems to have a good plan established and a solid foundation laid, if he can keep his players off the injured list.

Carey, who made the biggest jump of the three, made WVU immediately respectable. If he keeps going at the rate he established, he's going to be a very hot coaching commodity.

Neither of those coaching hires received a great deal of criticism, although some who wanted Terry Bowden at WVU vented against the Rodriguez hiring, much as Huggins fans are doing now.

So why is the hiring of Beilein getting the amount of static that I'm hearing?

Beilein had, by far the most impressive resume of our group of three. He's done very well as the head coach of a mid-major, and has more head coaching experience than either Rodriguez or Carey. So again, what's the problem? Is it simply because he's not Bob Huggins?

Whatever the problem is, those Mountaineer fans thus afflicted need to get over it. Quickly. At first take, WVU appears to have gotten a dedicated coach that employs unique offensive strategies to create mismatches for his team.

He appears to be flexible, he was universally praised in Richmond by fans, media and staff alike, and he didn't dillydally when presented with the offer to coach WVU. What's not to like?

Understandably, the jury is still out. I'm not going to predict that WVU will be in the Sweet 16 in three seasons. But by the same token, it's not fair, or reasonable, to pronounce this hiring a failure before the man has spent Day One on the job. Let's see what happens first.


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