With the basketball team sitting on the reciprocal of a winning record it makes Ed a pretty prime target for Donald Trump’s catchphrase. Some of the displeasure isn’t misplaced, a few of his in-game coaching decisions have been pretty questionable, and a lot of fans have taken exception to what appears to be a pretty big Cluster-Pryor of an offense.
That being said, firing him now could put the program in the state similar to where it was before he arrived, coming off a bad season, without a real direction, and on the cusp of losing more than half the team to transfer or graduation. Firing Ed right at this juncture would almost be the same thing as pushing the reset button on the past 7 years and starting from scratch.
When it comes to understanding the general state of Penn State basketball, a lot of fans go straight for Ed’s win-loss record. While you are who you are by how many games you win, there are plenty of factors involved that don’t play into the stats. When Ed got here the program was in shambles, players were leaving left and right, and 90% of the people involved with the University couldn’t have cared any less than they already did about the program.
Since then Ed has done a lot for the program off the court. Recruiting has turned around, from playing the how-many-junior-college-transfers-can-you-get*? game, to picking up Jamelle Cornley, Talor Battle, Tim Fraizer, Bill Edwards, Chris Babb, and Stanley Pringle.* He still has to travel commercially for recruiting visits and has to go up against just about every Big East as well as Big Ten school to pick kids up. Imagine going to the Pitt area and telling a kid he can have Peachy Paterno…or he can play in MSG for the Big East Tournament. It isn’t an easy sell, but even this year he managed to get some highly rated recruits in the area.
Nobody can deny the sort of community man that Ed is, his work with CVC and other organizations is unmatched, and while it won’t win you games, it is part of the equation when looking for coaches that will represent their establishments with pride. In short, not everyone is Lane Kiffin.
On the court this past season has been painful, really finding who to blame is a struggle though in and of itself. You could blame Ed for bad coaching, but you could blame the players for bad execution. Ultimately it comes down to a circular relationship, both coach and player are to blame for recent struggles, at the same time, you have to admire the effort they put out to stay in games against Top 20 teams almost every other game. I imagine that this season would be a bit easier to swallow if they hadn’t lost games by less than 8 points on a regular basis and were just getting blown out. The fact that they are giving themselves a chance to win and not coming through is really where the issue lies. What fixes that problem? I think that I’d be a lot more popular if I could answer that question.
In the end, minus all of the struggles of the past 7 years Ed will have the most talented team of his tenure next season. If he isn’t able to deliver next season, then it might be time for him to go, but as of right now, he has earned his shot.