No wonder USF is still miles away from becoming a successful major NCAA program.
The Bulls get rid of a capable coach in Eddie Cardieri, but keep Robert McCullum, who has shown no signs of improvement.
McCullum went through his third consecutive losing season this year and got a vote of confidence along with another season as head coach. Cardieri struggles through his fourth losing season in 21 years and is forced into resigning.
If anything, expectations are higher in basketball than the baseball program, yet Cardieri is judged by a tougher standard. Why does McCullum get one more season to fix the problems with his team he created while Cardieri is ushered out the door?
The goal for every baseball program is to win the national championship and build tradition, but at USF reaching conference tournaments will have to do for now.
With that in mind, Cardieri has reached the NCAA Tournament nine times in his career, with the last entrance coming in 2002. Despite not reaching the tournament in the last four seasons, Cardieri has kept the program competitive and respectable.
McCullum, however, has yet to capture a winning season or take the program to a conference tournament or postseason berth. McCullum has lost 20 games in two of the three seasons he’s been at USF while struggling in conference play in Conference USA and the Big East.
Cardieri holds just about every coaching record in the program’s history including wins in a season (52), tournament appearances (9), games coached (1,153) and led USF to a No. 1 ranking in 1989 – its highest ranking ever.
With that kind of success, Cardieri deserved at least one more season in the Big East to rebound from this year’s losing record. That wasn’t the case and Cardieri announced his resignation while McCullum prepares for another season on the bench.
Athletic Director Doug Woolard broke consistency and went out of his way during the basketball season to stick up for McCullum and all but guaranteed him one more season. Fans were calling for McCullum to be fired, but Woolard is giving him one more chance.
Doesn’t Cardieri deserve the same courtesy after everything he’s done for the program?
Another puzzling fact about the timing of Cardieri’s resignation is his pay, which was $64,000 as reported in a June 30, 2005 story in the Oracle, compared to McCullum’s $202,559. In fact, Cardieri’s salary is ranked as the third lowest among 61 BCS schools with baseball programs. Where else is USF going to find a successful coach that wants to be paid in peanuts?
Having talented players is only half the key to successful programs. Getting and keeping good coaches is the second part of that equation. It took a scare from Kansas State for USF to finally reward Jim Leavitt with a salary comparable to other successful coaches.
But it seems that USF has it backward, keeping the bad coaches that show no signs of improvement and dumping a coach that has had some success.
Woolard has a list of coaches – Lelo Prado of Louisville and Florida State associate coach Jamey Shouppe – that might replace Cardieri. However, Prado and Shouppe will expect more than the $64,000 salary Cardieri was getting paid.
According to quotes in the Tampa Tribune, Woolard said USF is looking to go into a different direction. That direction is most likely down.
Junior Yuri Huggins and freshman Gus Fernandez were said to be leaving if Cardieri returned, which was stated in the same story. Senior Brian Baisley believes Cardieri didn’t lose control of his players, but did feel some of the players didn’t respect the coach.
The players have to take the responsibility of the outcome of this season just as much as the coach. He can only teach them so much – it was their responsibility to perform on the field.
Will those same players blame the next coach and lose respect for him if they don’t win?
The players will until they realize they’re miles away.