My final thoughts on the firing of Ron Everhart

by Dave Morus

Now that Duquesne has hired a new coach, and now that fans have had the opportunity to listen to the coach and get an idea of his background and the type of program he wants to establish at Duquesne, most of us have been quite relieved.

Since the hire has been made and the dust is settled, I thought it might be worthwhile to look back at Ron's firing as objectively as possible. Ignoring the leaked letter, ignoring the turnaround that he caused, ignoring the relationship between Ron and Amodio, and instead looking specifically at the issues surrounding his dismissal.

It isn't that the letter is inaccurate. We discussed that in an earlier blog post.

It isn't that the turnaround was minute. Quite simply, he did a job that was thought to be impossible and he has been and should be applauded for it.

And it isn't that I mean to argue about any strife between the coach and the AD. That has been well documented, at least to the extent that we as fans can read the situation.

I believe that there is one root cause for the firing - and it was not a knee jerk reaction caused by the transferring players. It was not a poorly-executed move that was meant to disrespect the outgoing coach who did a lot for the program.

I think that there are three major facets to the move - the background, the catalyst, and the analysis. Read on after the jump.

The Background

The first facet of this situation is Ron's contract status. As Duquesne fans know, following this past season, Ron had two years remaining on his contract with the university. The mediocre record of last season was certainly not enough to earn him an extension. If he was to have a new deal in place, it would have been the result of an excellent season next year. Nothing else would have brought a contract extension. Without such a deal, Everhart would surely have been released after next season, as is typical in college sports. Generally, schools strive to avoid lame duck situations, and coaches that are to be replaced are often let go with a year left so that the effect on recruiting is minimized.

In summation, short of an incredible season next year, Ron Everhart would have been replaced at the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign.

The Catalyst

The second facet is indeed the transferring players. Both point guards departed the program. Regardless of the quality of the incoming recruiting class, no one with any experience would have been left to run the floor. PJ Torres is an unknown quality and not necessarily a PG. Sean Johnson is more of a shooting guard and has been known to give up turnovers. Jerry Jones had point experience in high school, but it was in a defensive system and all of his meaningful minutes with the Dukes have been spent in the 3. Otherwise, freshmen enter the discussion and no matter how good a recruiting class looks on paper, new players are going to take time to develop.

Point guard is an incredibly important position and can make or break a season. Look at Duquesne's NIT berth a few seasons ago, which was brought on almost exclusively by Aaron Jackson's determination and skill. Look at the plight of UNC in the NCAA tournament, who faltered after key injuries at the point despite the incredible talent at other positions.

In short, there would have been no meaningful experience at the point guard position, one of the most important facets to a team, in a conference that is rated among the top conferences in NCAA Division I Basketball.

The Analysis

The third facet is the analysis of the situation in light of the two factors above. If there was no quality depth at one of the most important positions on the team, can one reasonably expect any degree of success on the court in 2012-13? The answer must be no.

At best, the Dukes would have finished with a record equal to last year's, but more likely would have been worse. Yet, Coach Everhart could only acquire an extension by having a lights-out season.

Therefore, Ron would have had little to no chance of earning an extension. Of course he would have tried his hardest to do it - there is no denying the amount of effort put forth by the man. Yet effort is the least reliable predictor of success.

The Conclusion

This means that a coaching change was inevitable. Even if Everhart had been retained, this year would have been his last year. If that is going to happen anyway, it might as well happen now. It is far more prudent to give the next coach a chance to set the foundation the way that he prefers rather than allow the outgoing Everhart to add more players who may or may not have a meaningful impact on the future of basketball on the Bluff. The change was coming, and as Thomas Jefferson said, "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today."

Making the decision at this time of year couldn't have been easy, but it was the right move to make. Don't consider the change to be a reflex reaction to the players transferring. They were the catalyst, yes, but to leave the analysis there is to oversimplify the situation. The true reason for the firing is that Ron had little chance of producing a solid, winning team next year - and thus, little chance of earning an extension. At that point, it was the responsibility of the Athletic Director to make a move that, long term, would be the most beneficial for the basketball program.