January 28, 2010

Thursday Question: Ed DeChellis... more time, or time to go?

Each Thursday the staff at Linebacker-U.com will choose a topical question to answer in a roundtable format. Up this week, we tackle the growing criticism of head basketball coach Ed DeChellis. The team is struggling mightily this season, win-less in the Big Ten; but is coming off an NIT championship. This begs the question: Ed DeChellis... more time, or time to go?


Luckily (or unluckily) Penn State fans have faced this question before but it was with one legendary football coach. When Penn State football was going through the “dark ages” many fans called for Paterno’s head. They said the game had passed him by and it was time for a “fresh start.” Of course we all know how that turned out and I think we are all pretty glad the administration stuck with Paterno. Now DeChellis is certainly not a legend like Paterno but the same scenario applies, Ed is coming off of the most successful season in recent Penn State basketball history and to give him the boot after one off season is a bit nearsighted. DeChellis certainly doesn’t deserve the slack that Paterno got but he at least has earned the right to try and get the ship turned around for at least another year.


Sometimes you have to ask a question to answer a question. Joe Paterno was ready to be kicked to the curb in the early 2000s, but was allowed to stay and prove that he could do it. So, I'll ask. How'd that work out? If Penn State fires Ed DeChellis, one frickin' year after winning the NIT, it would be an insufferable mistake that could set this program back even farther than it was under the latter years of Jerry Dunn. Is the NIT the NCAAs? Of course not, but like any other college sport, basketball is about recruiting good players to maintain and build upon the previous season's success. This is a down year for the basketball team under DeChellis. I'm not going to say otherwise. But he has brought in an undeniable boost to the raw talent taking the court for the Nittany Lions, and has more of that talent on the way.

Penn State has to allow DeChellis the time needed to work through the down seasons. Had he taken the team to an NIT title in his first season, then became progressively worse over the last five seasons, I would be the first to say that it's not working out with Ed at the helm. But that's not what is happening. The team, despite popular opinion (seriously, when was the last time the masses knew what was good for them?), is improving under DeChellis. He's earned time.


I know it's not a popular opinion, but I'm willing to give Ed another year. It cannot be overemphasized just how barren this program was before he arrived. He's been able to bring in a steady stream of respectable talent, but can't seem to put it together on gameday. There's the issues from the foul line and an inability to close down the stretch. In the past, this team was hamstrung by injuries to key players, but this year's decline is inexplicable. I'm open to giving him another year to see if this is just an aberration.


When Ed first arrived in Happy Valley, the program was an absolute train wreck. To his credit, he improved recruiting and also pushed for and received upgrades in the facilities which I hear are now more in line with the rest of the Big Ten. Unfortunately, that's about it as far as the positives go. Sure, Ed did finally add a piece of hardware to a long-empty trophy cabinet when he won the NIT last year, but that's no excuse for his current squad's dismal performance in Big Ten play thus far and it shouldn't be used as an excuse to keep him around another year. The comparison to JoePa is laughable. JoePa had established decades upon decades of winning before the Dark Years hit. Before last season, DeChellis had yet to produce a winning season, and had merely one postseason appearance which was a loss in the opening round of the NIT, not exactly much to point to for established success.

I realize the talent level isn't top-notch, but this a team that should be winning at the very least, 6 or 7 games in the Big Ten and playing in some type of postseason tournament. What I see instead, is a team lacking direction, discipline, and cohesion whatsoever. The addition of Taran Buie next season will not act as magic wand to cure PSU of what really seems to be ailing them: Poor coaching. This horrid start is reminding me all too much of Jerry Dunn's last year as coach, where his team lost the first 10 games of Big Ten play and went on to finish a dismal 2-14 in the conference. While I'm not calling for Ed to resign right this moment, I do think it would be best for him and for the program to do so at the season's end. He's merely delaying the inevitable by coming back next year, as I don't see him making the NCAA tournament, which would be a requirement in all likelihood from Tim Curley. Plus, I would love to see what a higher caliber coach could do with our current roster, something tells me the team would perform far better. More importantly, if a new coach were to come in next year he would at the very least, have a jump-start on recruiting and would get to work with a roster full of returning players, perhaps even being able to revive the faint hopes of Talor Battle playing in the Big Dance before graduating.

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  1. My goodness, did I have a lot on my mind when I typed my answer up during the wee hours of the morning...

  2. That's when we produce our best rants!

  3. It's not surprising that the basketball writer is the one advocating his departure while football/wrestling observers are in favor of keeping him. When you're watching every game, like Tim and I are, it gets pretty painful, man.

  4. I guess I'm just a hopeless optimist. I wasn't calling for Joe's head (I know, I know, Ed's NOT Joe) then, so I won't call for Ed's head... yet.

  5. I'm watching every televised game plus a pair I caught in person. They're undeniably awful to see. The team should be curb stomping Iowa and manage to find a way to lose. Should be getting their asses kicked at Wisconsin but go the distance and still lose. I'm not willing to pull the trigger on Ed yet.