Coaches character vs. their program's success | The Boneyard

Coaches character vs. their program's success


Snark is always appreciated!
Nov 10, 2016
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In seeing the article on Cal WCBB fundraiser with Kerr and Geno, I was reminded what a nice, smart young lady Lindsay Gottlieb is. However, her success, based on her pay, focus of her program by her school has not really lived up to the expectations. Similar could be said for Holly Warlick, Sherri Coale, Nikki Fargas, Joanne P McCalley and Joanne Boyle.

All are noted for being high character, committed to the program, making significant money but not achieving the previous success or reaching the high expectations of their program's base-be it fans or the athletic department. Therein lies the dilemma to the AD's: at what point is the strong character of these "ambassador/coaches" at conflict with the money spent, lack of success and the schools focus/efforts that could be placed in other programs? Don't schools have to be more fiscally responsible and determine the "return" on their investment, which in all of these cases, is not returning high value.

The most notable is Holly, of course, and we on here, me in particular, often criticize her lack of deep runs in the NCAA tournament and conference titles while still getting elite players. She is almost universally described as a wonderful person, passionate about the program and committed to the players, which seems to suit Philip Fulmer (and previous AD's fine). Her fan base is not so enthused and regularly calls for change as the attendance continues to drop. In Pat's last year-2012, attendance was #1 at 14,414 and last year it was #4 at 8,778 a 39% decrease, OUCH! She has not made any Final Fours and lost in the second round each of the last two years but did get a 3 year extension to 2022.

As we just played Sherri and her gritty team, she has not done well these past 5-6 years and has seen her record and fan attendance decline rather steadily. She makes 40% more than Holly ($635k) @ $1mil per year and she too, is noted as a wonderful WCBB ambassador. In 2012, Oklahoma was #2 in the Big12 with 6,851 fans (9th in the country), in 2018, OU was 4th in the Big12 with 3,825 fans (27th) a 44% decrease. Maybe this crop of Freshman/Sophomores plus her incoming crop of recruits will turn her program back on a more successful winning track. I think she has two more years left on her current contract.

Nikki Fargas was also given an extension at LSU, which given her lack of real success there was a head scratcher. Nikki had a tremendous career at Tenn, a great but brief effort at UCLA that garnered her the role at LSU (which was coming off some embarrassment with Pokey Chapman with a Van Chancellor effort briefly before Nikki). In 2012, she led LSU to 4th in the conference had 4,315 fans (21st in the country) but by 2018, she was 7th with 2,258 (60th) which is a 48% decrease and lost in the first round. I am not as familiar with her character other than a few blurbs I have read and the fact Geno has spoken kindly about Nikki. She too has struggled with success vs. the money she is paid, a fan base not happy but AD that is. Is this too, a new reality for the expectations of a former strong program?

JPM is a favorite target here on the thread, particularly among the Duke fans as they lament the success Gail had vs. what JPM is bringing. We also know there was some program dissension a few years ago that brought some scrutiny to how JPM conducted the program. The investigation ultimately led to zero sanctions but some ownership by JPM on modifying her efforts-which seems to have been sincere and appearance that she has changed. What many may not know is JPM has a very strong coaching tree (Katie Abrahamson-Henderson was her assistant at Mich and numerous others-18) and is very big in the charity efforts in the Durham area along with her husband and those efforts were taken into consideration when assessing the program. In 2012, Duke won the ACC with 5,361 fans (15th nationally) by 2018, Duke was 5th in the ACC with 4,058 (24th nationally) and a sweet 16 exit. She has never been beyond the Elite 8. Like Sherri, she too has a younger program and some help on the way so maybe she turns it around, whether she can ever get back to the success GG had is doubtful, but the school seems to be ok with this new reality.

Joanne Boyle was highly successful at Cal before being brought to UVA where she could not replicate that success and was let go after the end of last year-she "resigned" (for great personal reasons), though I suspect it was really about her lack of wins. in 2012, her first year, UVA finished 6th in the ACC with 3,152 fans (34th nationally) and by 2018 she finished 8th with 3,100 fans. She never finished higher than the 6th place finish she achieved her first year and and her last year. We wish her the best and would love to see her in broadcasting to hear her insights and demonstrate her character.

This brings us to Lindsay-she too took over in 2011-12, finished 2nd in PAC12 with 2,076 fans (66th nationally), achieved her pinnacle in 2012-13, winning the PAC12 and making it to the FF. She has dropped quickly, in the 5 years since, she missed one NCAA, never making it beyond the 2nd round, being passed by OSU, OU and even UCLA since then. The good news is her attendance has increased from 2012 (2,076-66th nationally) to 2018 (2,330-57th, 12% increase). This year's schedule to date has been soft (9-0) and I don't see it sustaining given today's game and a tough PAC12. Of all the programs on this list, her role is probably the most safe given her efforts on social media, her personality, her programs growth and holding events like this. It is still not an elite program nor even a regular top 25 and her current ranking of 14 is probably going to be the high water mark for the year. I wish her well though, as she has always presented herself very well.

Personally, I think character matters and all these women show this trait and should be given opportunities to continue develop young women at their schools. What is concerning is the amount of money the schools pay most of these women for less than stellar results and is sending a mixed message. It is fiscally irresponsible to waste this money on programs that are degrading before our eyes (Cal being the one program not degrading but also not really performing at what is expected). As I noted at the top, WCBB is a not a revenue generator with maybe these programs being the exception in their heyday years, certainly not now, with the lone exception of Holly who makes the least amount, and the program generating the most of these listed. What should the AD's do?

Let me know your thoughts.

wbball novice

That bandwagon guy
Feb 10, 2018
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I've been a fan of JPM since Michigan had its run in the NCAA tournament with that guard who had most of her gut removed & had to eat constantly. If she could nurture a kid like that she's OK with me. Nice to know she's been involved with charity work at Duke. Some of her recruits didn't pan out -- Duke academic standards might have limited the talent pool a little -- but I enjoyed watching Lexi Brown in the NCAA tournament.
Apr 10, 2015
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Character: Simple when winning they can do no wrong, god-like, wonderful and the world hangs on their every word. They are regularly quoted by fans and press.

When not winning as usually--the doorman, floor sweeper, street vendor all tell him what he needs to do. That is to have recruited better last year of the year before

When the coach has a losing year ( less than 29 wins) there are calls to replace him/her NOW

If a coach hangs in there with all that negativity for 2 years or more ---THAT'S CHARACTER..


Grand Canyon Knight
Aug 26, 2011
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Holly's problem is, ultimately, where she's at. For the numerous teams in WBB who are not in the top 25, her success would be considered "great". And the truth is, it may not be possible to return Tennessee to where it was - they might do better, have deeper runs in the tourney, etc. indeed - but I don't see that they are destined to become the dominant program they once were.

I heard Sherri's youngsters are great, and I saw a bit of the really tough game she gave you guys. Like many across a number of threads I have glanced at, I think she needs to step it up going forward. I don't think she has to make Final Fours (sorry, not that many teams do, you know), but at least deep runs to justify the salary.

I liked from afar the efforts of Boyle and I certainly have nothing against Fargas, but you know, to be completely honest - what did they do to convince anyone they were "great" coaches? Yes, I am surprised that Fargas is as secure as she seems to be.

JPM - no comment, except, of the programs other than Tennessee, I think the expectations are highest.

I don't have the issues with Gottlieb that you folks seem to. I would think Cal is content with where they are at; again, lots of programs would be.

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