For all of the criticism leveled at Dr. Eric Zillmer, this Athletics Department is a lot of things, and far from the debacle that happened in Wilmington. What the job opening at Drexel represents is a tremendous opportunity for an array of candidates. Besides compensation that is expected to be extremely competitive for the mid major level (Bruiser Flint had been making close to a 450k base salary) the job brings with it a number of highlights, some of which are listed below:
- First and foremost, the incoming coach won’t be involved in a rebuild. Thanks in part to Bruiser’s tough run of luck, redshirt years have already been burned by Ahmad Fields (who may get another), Major Canady and Miles Overton. The senior class, namely big men Rodney Williams and Mohammed Bah are shoo-ins to return. That forms up to a third year point guard with three years of eligibility left, two wings who were recruited at a high major level and two senior post players. If the next coach can keep Terrell Allen, and a couple of the incoming juniors this becomes a deep, talented team that they will be inheriting. And that team will be picked low in the preseason poll. There is a very reasonable path to a first year CAA Coach of the Year award that comes with this gig.
- While the CAA in general, and Drexel in particular, have done a poor job of getting eyeballs on the program (there was not a single Philadelphia media member at Bruiser’s final press conference, as none of them bothered to send a reporter to cover the teams tourney run, an embarrassment to all involved ), it remains a Philadelphia basketball program. A Philadelphia coaching job brings with it membership to Big 5 Coaches events, and the entrance to a fraternity. Connections are made here. Exposure happens here. And a successful Head Coach gets an entire east coast city behind them, and gains the free media that comes with that. While many Philly coaches choose to never leave and have the luxury not to, success here makes a coach a hot name at larger institutions.
- Deep breath Drexel fans… The support of the administration for the Head Coach is outstanding. With regards to on the court activity, they are somewhere between hands off and inept. Suffice it to say, they will not interfere with the job of the Head Coach. They gave the last coach 15 years and he never won a league title, in case anyone didn’t notice that. And as far as financial support, while the DAC may not look like much today, pull a photo from 10 years ago. The building has come a long way, and looks much more like a D-I facility than it gets credit for. Bruiser said he needed offices, he got them. He said he needed new locker rooms and team rooms, he got them. If a coach is looking for a hands-off administration that can deliver on requests, they will get it at Drexel.
The Drexel job is a great gig in the NCAA landscape. While the administration chose to let Bruiser Flint work here for 15 years, Bruiser Flint also chose to stay for 15 years. In this day and age that should speak volumes to any candidate. While the CAA is a grinder, lets not forget that Shaka Smart came from this league. Jim Larranaga came from this league (don’t let the door hit you, Jim). Blaine Taylor lived here. The competition in this conference can make a good coach great. And for all of the heat given to UNCW at the open of this post, this year, just six years after the school’s Athletic Department let all the dirty laundry air and four years after a postseason ban due to APR violations, they’ll be dancing. That is the power that change can bring.
Drexel doesn’t need half of the turnaround from their next coach, that UNCW needed from Buzz Peterson or Kevin Keatts . The Dragons simply need the right person to breathe some fire back into the program. So while there are plenty of deserving candidates in the Philadelphia area, from Doug Overton to Jim Rullo to Bashir Mason, fans should be excited by Dr. Zillmer’s announcement to hire Parker Executive Search and conduct a national search campaign. This is a job that should be given to someone of the highest qualification, who is hungry to take a good program and make it great.