Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Coaching Dominoes Begin to Fall

The highest profile coaching position open, the one at Indiana University, has been filled with a fairly high-profile coach. ESPN is reporting that Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson will be named as the new coach, replacing the departed Mike Davis.

I find this a very interesting hire. For one thing, this completely pulls up the final roots left by the Bob Knight coaching tree. I think that is a very wise move for Hoosiers' basketball. Knight is gone for good and they need to forge a new identity for their program.

Sampson has a strong track record, reaching the Final Four at Oklahoma in 2002 and only missing the NCAA's once in 12 seasons. He also coached the U. S. under-21 team to the World Championship last summer.

He also has a stain on his resume, however. Oklahoma is currently on the final year of a two-year self-imposed probation where they reduced scholarships and prevented Sampson from going on the road to recruit last summer. There were issues with impermissible contacts with recruits over a period of several years, and the potential remains of further sanctions being handed down by the NCAA next month. During Sampson's tenure, the Sooners also did not post a very high graduation rate.

This is also a departure from the Knight era, one possibly heading in the wrong direction. I'm not saying Sampson is a bad guy. What I do know of him clearly does not point to that. His teams generally play hard and maximize their talent. Oklahoma did appear to underachieve this season, however, and there has been a lot of player momement in and out of the Sooners' program over the past few seasons, particularly involving junior college players. It seems like an odd time to get the call from a big time program still trying to replace a legendary coach, but it could be quite fortutious for Sampson.

It remains to be seen if he will change his approach at Indiana and, if so, still be effective. That will be one of the stories I'll be keeping a close eye on in the coming months.

Now who gets the Oklahoma job? The dominoes will now start to fall at a rapid rate .


At 2:45 PM, Blogger dolphinfan said...

Here are my thoughts on Kelvin Sampson from a Sooner perspective.


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