Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Barry Collier Conundrum

I imagine that it would be easy to assume based on my postings about Barry Collier that one would assume that I'm advocating his firing. Which I'm not; however, I'm not sure I'm defending him anymore. Here's my take on the "Keep Barry/Fire Barry" argument:

Keep Barry
  • Currently in 6th place in the Big XII, and only 1 game out of 4th place (and the first round bye in the Big XII tournament with 2 games to play)
  • A winning season at 17-10.
  • A fairly young team with some talented young players (Aleks Maric, Marcus Walker, and Jamel White)
  • Playing better ever since Joe McCray left the team
Fire Barry
In all fairness, I haven't seen much of Nebraska basketball this season. With the diminishing interest in Husker hoops, no Omaha TV station carries the games so except for an occasional ESPN or FSN game, I only go by what I read and hear. I'm torn; Barry's teams are much better than the final few Danny Nee teams, and their actions don't embarass the school or the state. But, on the other hand, you'd like to have seen a little more progress.

But it really doesn't matter what I or most other fans think.

I'm focusing my analysis on what I think will happen, not what should happen. And in my mind, I think Barry Collier is on his way out. Some people think that having a successful season will prevent Steve Pederson from firing Collier, but that's never stopped him before. Some people think Nebraska is just a football school, but then how do you explain Texas and Oklahoma? Some people think that Nebraskans don't care about basketball, but then how do you explain the sellouts at Devaney in the early to mid 90's, or the 13,000 that regularly attend Creighton games?

I may very well be wrong, but I think Barry Collier is going to be fired, based purely on the deafening silence from above. In fact, I think he knows it as well. And remember, I'm not saying "should be" either.


Adam said...

Collier is a nice guy. He's very personable and friendly. He'll joke with you and offer you something to drink if you come down to his office.

Unfortunately, I also thought Solich was the kind of guy who would do anything for anyone.

What people are forgetting is, save Danny's last year, Nebraska was pretty damn good in hoops. In 1999, we went 10-6, won 20 games and were probably the last team out of the bubble, and ended up going fairly deep into the NIT (eventually losing to Billy Tubbs and TCU in Ft. Worth, Cochran scored a million points but Lee Nailon was too much). That Husker team also played a much tougher slate, and had the Big XII player of the year in Venson Hamilton (who could have enjoyed a decent NBA career if he had been a little tougher).

What about all the players that Collier put in the NBA? Pike, Strick, Mikki Moore, Lue, etc.

It is about more than wins and losses, its about the direction of the program.

I saw about a half-dozen NU games in person this year, and there's just something missing...I don't know what it is.

Anonymous said...

Do I think Barry will be fired, probably. However, I'm not in total agreement with the assessment of the program.

In the 90's ticket prices were very affordable, and the team had a "buzz" around it. Bill Byrne raised the prices because he thought he had something started, and in turn hurt attendance and had some turnover of season ticket holders. Now with hockey in Lincoln, the sports fan has someplace else to go (and drink to boot mind you), thereby detracting from dollars spent to attend NU basketball.

Can NU be a powerhouse in basketball? Very, very, very difficult given the status of funding for the university. The schools you named have many more dollars to throw into their schools than does the U. I think that if you wanted to compare programs, you should likely compare the athletic budgets. Most schools would kill to have four programs that were in contention each year with a budget the size of ours, and that were competitive in most sports is amazing. Track team competitive, volleyball team, baseball team, softball team, gymnastics team, soccer teams, wrestling team, swimming teams, tennis teams, bowling club and maybe in the near future the football team. What is the athletic budget of Texas vs. Nebraska? If you take a look, I think you will find that a school like Texas has many more dollars to put into their programs. You should also account for the problems that arise with the Title IX allocations (or make certain if you're a football school that you have to spend a ton of resources on women's sport even though they are non-revenue producing equality law).

As I've stated on a prior post, if you have the talent to go to Kansas, UCLA, NC, UCONN, Syracuse, and others with basketball tradition, then Nebraska is well down your list of potential schools. Basketball and the professionsal ranks is not like football and baseball, IT DOES MATTER WHERE YOU PLAYED!! There is the occasional player that comes from a lesser known program, but take a look at your NBA rosters, not a lot of Boise State, Texas A & M, Penn State, Northwestern, Nebraska talent gracing the benches. Granted the occasional Chauncy Billups slips through the cracks as the exception to the rule.

You might then argue, how does the NU baseball team do it? We've had some luck, some excellent talent in state, and how long will the magic lasts? Nebraska to this point has not lured a big hitter away from LSU, Miami, Texas, ASU, LSU, Tulane, Cal State recruiting as of yet, so to say Nebraska has an established baseball program that rivals the known powerhouses of baseball in my opinion is not a reality. I would say that when Nebraska starts getting kids like Khalil Greene to come here vs. ANYWHERE else, then I'll say that we've taken a foothold. We coldn't even keep the Johnson kid out of Omaha from going to a Baylor team that was poor, while Ken Harvey was leading the team to it's first Big 12 title.

If anyone deserves to have their program scrutinized, it would be womens basketball.

Adam said...

Anonymous, have you watched Connie Yori's teams this year or followed them?

She's in her third year (might as well be her second) and with the major injuries that this team has battled this season (losing three potential starters in fall camp) to even be above .500 at this point is tremendous. That and the fact that she has the top girls player in the state (Yvonne Tuner from Bellevue East) coming here next year shouls say something.

Her teams hustle, they press, they box out. She can coach a full-court and half-court. She's got intensity on the sidelines. Her players give it all.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit that I have only watched the womens team on television, and I haven't been impressed with the team to this point. I've read the box scores and articles with the games, and when they play a ranked opponent, they generally get crushed. To me having a sub .500 record in confernce with a weak North division is nothing to be drawing attention to. How many tournament teams have the women played vs. the men's team, and what are their respective records?

Nebraska men have to recruit against a powerhouse program down the road at KU and the women's program doesn't have that type of competition. Maybe I am a little hard on the women's program, but they don't draw anyone, the times I have seen them all you have to do is guard Hardy, and they don't have to butt heads with a national powerhouse 3 hours away from their program.

So if I had to take one coach over the other right now, I'd take Barry and the job he has done. Kids that come to Nebraska have to go by KU, MU, Iowa, Creighton and possibly other schools, and the guy is improving each year. Girls that come to Nebraska, so what if they go by KU, MU, KSU, not a big deal.

Adam said...

I'll assume your ignorance...
Yori took the women on the road to play @ Michigan (won), @ Minnesota (lost by 8, top ten program) @ Northwestern (won) and neutral court against LSU (top five program, lost by 19 but led at the half).

The Big XII in women's baseketball is just as strong as ever. K-State (receiving votes) and Missouri (top 25 team)are tournament teams, and Iowa State is as tough as ever. Kansas was ranked until mid-January and Colorado traditionally is strong, althought they struggled this year.

Of course, in the south, you have traditional powers TTU, UT, Baylor and OU.

The women draw strong crowds, upwards of 3-4k.

They are recruiting against Creighton (had a down year), Iowa State, Iowa, KU and K-State in the immediate area.

Nebraska (Collier) isn't competiting with KU for recruits, they're competiting against Colorado, Iowa State and K-State...middle of the road Big XII teams...

If you want to look at recruiting, Altman has two of the best Nebraska HS players in recent years in Bahe (by way of Kansas) and Dotzler, both who will be impace players for them next year. Look at Wilkinson, the guy came into the program as a three-star recruit...those type of players take you to the tournament.

Matt Hill? He's not going to be that great for Texas, I have a feeling that Barry didn't make a move on him. Oh, who is Hill's coach? Jeff Smith...a former Nee assistant.

Anonymous said...

How did the women's team fair against those ranked opponenets, how have they faired against tournament teams? Your opinion is that the North division of the Big 12 is as strong as ever, while I do not agree. As for recruiting, I don't see Iowa State and Kansas programs in the same light as the Stanford, Tenn, Louisina Tech, UCONN of women's basketball, so again you and I do not agree in that arena as well, which is more than fine.

Maybe I am ignorant, but I like to think of myself as a realists. I called the Nebraska mens program 7-9 after the first two conference games, and believe now, we are going to end up 8-8, going 1-1 in the Big 12 tourney. Getting a first round game in the NIT, and I'd have to see the bracket to make anymore guesstimations.

You helped strengthen my arguement about Barry doing a better job with his talent with two of the better in states going to Creighton. Creighton has more basketball tradition as well, thereby strengthening the arguement again.

That being said, I still believe it will be incredibly hard to make Nebraska, women or men into anything but a second tier team.

Bottom line for myself, it will take an incredible amount of money to make BOTH programs successful to compete for Big 12 Championships, which I don't believe the state has, nor willing to commit to athletic programs that are non-revenue generating.

If I had to make the call, I'd give Barry two more years to break into the top 25, and win a game in the NCAA tournament.

Adam said...

Something about gravitating towards mediocrity...

Anonymous said...

When the NCAA decides they want to break up the monopoly of talent going to these schools, they'll limit the number of scholarships, and allow other schools to pick up that talent. (Similiar to how the limitation of scholarships and walk-ons have aided some smaller schools in football.)

I'm looking at the costs associated with the program vs. the return to the athletic budget. Look at how the programs other than football at K-State suffered while their school was pumping money into the football program. In smaller schools where they have limited budgets, winning may be too expensive of a price to pay.

So maybe the statement I'm really trying to make is, if we decide to commit to nationally competitive basketball programs, what other programs are we willing to take away from? And will Title IX allow us to do so?

Adam said...

The NCAA already limits scholarships with the 4 and 7 rule.

Anonymous said...

I apparently was not specific enough. I fully understand the current limits on scholarships. I should have said the the NCAA will look at decreasing the current amount of scholarship athletes on a men's and women's basketball team from the current level.

Unfortunately, my initial prediction of 7-9 held true. I really thought the boys would bounce back after the loss to K-State at home.