In Friday’s Oracle, the photo on the front page showed a sidewalk on which “We need a new men’s BB coach” had been written in colorful chalk. The caption below the photo detailed the fact that the authors “left a similar note near (coach Robert) McCullum’s parking space.”
With no winning seasons under his belt, the authors of the sidewalk message may be right. But McCullum should be allowed to finish his season, because replacing him now will do nothing good for men’s basketball at USF.
If McCullum can get the team into the Big East Tournament by the end of the season – still a possibility – he should be allowed to remain USF’s coach next season, as well.
After all, it isn’t as though McCullum is a bad coach. The two seasons he spent at Western Michigan before coming to USF were winning seasons, during which his team won 17 and 20 games, respectively. The problem, it could be argued, is a vicious cycle that’s been taking place with USF basketball – they can’t find talent because they can’t win, and they can’t win because they can’t find talent.
Men’s basketball isn’t exactly USF’s favorite sport, considering fewer than 3,000 people attend the games at the Sun Dome, on average. While it’s true that anonymous fans might be willing to spell out McCullum’s doom on the sidewalk, few are actually willing to go to the games and support the team.
But who can blame them? In a football state such as Florida, it’s unlikely that a college basketball team at a commuter school is going to feel that sense of community and school pride that are so important for a successful program, such as those at the University of Florida, Duke and others. Not to mention this season’s defending Division I champions are only two hours north. Any hopeful, young player who’s got a 6-foot-7 frame and some promise will check with the Gators well before they check with the Bulls.
This men’s basketball team’s problems aren’t going to go away just because the head coach gets fired. What’s really needed is more of the concern shown by those who drew their message to USF about McCullum on the sidewalk. The more USF cares about its basketball team, the more prestigious and talented the team will become. In other words, it’s just a matter of priorities. No one argues that there isn’t enough talent out there – the real problem is that even if USF recruited the talent, no one would notice anyway.