The disappointing TCU men’s basketball season came to an end a few days before Spring Break. And it is obvious Danny Morrison, TCU’s Athletic Director, must fire Neil Dougherty, TCU’s head basketball coach. The future of the program hangs in the balance.Dougherty, a lifelong assistant coach at Kansas, Vanderbilt and Cameron University, was hired in 2002 to win games, lead the Frogs to the top of the conference, land recruits who can be developed to fit and progress in the TCU system and recruit talent similar to the talent he allegedly recruited at Kansas and Vanderbilt.
Take a quick glance at the results and you can see Dougherty has not met any of these goals in his four years at TCU.
Dougherty coached the Frogs to a 9-19 record his first year, a 14-17 record his second year and earned a 21-14 record his third year. After TCU’s best players (Corey Santee, Marcus Shropshire, Nucleas Smith and Jamal Brown, all of whom were recruited by TCU’s previous coach, Billy Tubbs) graduated, Dougherty had his own players. And the results have been dismal.
When he was hired, Dougherty promised to install a Kansas-style offense (built heavily on outrunning and outshooting your opponent) to bring the Frogs to the top of the conference. But Dougherty’s offense resembles the offense of the Washington Wizards more than the Jayhawks. There is no motion or cutting. No one can establish position on the blocks; there are few opportunities to penetrate and create foul shots, and a regular possession includes a flurry of wasted passes on the perimeter, ending with an often missed last second desperation three point shot, which leads to fast break opportunities for TCU’s opponent. Dougherty hasn’t recruited the players needed to win with a Kansas offense.
The Frogs are 8-25 and 2-14 in the Mountain West Conference. They did not win a single game on the road and rank last in the MWC in scoring offense, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, three-point percentage and opponent’s field goal percentage. These stats can’t make recruits and transfer students want to play at TCU for Dougherty.
The team’s success in 2004-2005, the Frogs’ best season under Dougherty, was due completely to the players recruited by Tubbs. Dougherty has attracted few quality transfer students and has not recruited a good prep star. An assistant coach from a quality program should have contacts with head coaches from many high schools, AAU teams and junior colleges, but Dougherty does not. And he has no European or Australian contacts of which to speak. His lack of contacts is baffling and hurts the program tremendously. Dougherty will have difficulty selling his program to recruits if his teams win very few games and finish last in their conference.
TCU’s Image magazine, which is everything The Alternative wants to be but isn’t, reported Dougherty earns nearly $350,000 each season. His buyout, presumably, is a few thousand dollars higher and probably close to $400,000. By choosing to retain Dougherty, TCU and Danny Morrison will lose more than Dougherty’s $400,000 buyout because unhappy boosters will stop donating to the basketball program, disgruntled fans won’t renew their season tickets, casual fans won’t buy walk up tickets – which cost $15 – and no one will be in attendance to buy concessions.
Danny Morrison and TCU must take note of Dougherty’s failure and avoid hiring another assistant coach from a high profile school. Hiring a head coach from a smaller school in a smaller conference is the answer. These head coaches have the proven experience, organization and recruiting ability needed to improve TCU. They have proven results for which they are entirely responsible – something which could not and cannot be said for Dougherty.
TCU would be wise to consider the following head coaches: Jessie Evans, San Francisco; Matt Doherty, Florida Atlantic; Lonn Reisman, Tarleton State; Ronnie Arrow, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; and Monte Towe, New Orleans.
But TCU must act quickly. With each loss, the price TCU must pay for a quality head coach rises, and the job becomes considerably less attractive.
TCU has a great practice facility. TCU can, if it wants, offer a great salary. And TCU is in an area where it can recruit great high school players and attract great transfer players.
Now it must find a great head coach.
Joel Petersen is a secondary education major from Lafayette, La.