Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Basketball Coaches Are Human, Too

With just one exception, I am fully positive that college basketball coaches eat, sleep, breathe, and have fully formed emotions just like you and I. We want to be loved, and trust, and paid well, but not at the expense of hating every last waking moment of our lives and waiting with anxious hope for the moment that Spanish Flu returns to give us sweet repose from this world. On that note, despite being completely shocking before the switch, maybe Ed DeChellis's move to Navy isn't quite so inexplicable:
This move looks like an absolute stunner on the surface – a high-major coach leaving for a low-major job and a pay cut of $200,000 annually. But a lot entered into it that makes it more easy to comprehend. 
DeChellis, now 52, is not interested in coaching more than another 8-10 years, tops. He felt a lack of respect and commitment from the Penn State administration. When he asked for raises for his assistants, one of whom is the lowest paid of 36 in the Big Ten, he was rebuked. 
After reaching the Big Ten tournament final and squeaking into the NCAA tournament for the first time in his tenure, he was unable to get an extension or raise on a contract lasting three more seasons. 
His daughters have completed college and are out of the house. His wife Kim, I've been told, loved the idea of living in a beautiful area bordering the major metro of Washington/Baltimore. 
And there's the enchantment and majesty of the Academy, a spectacular campus full of people who follow a higher calling than bank accounts and pocket cash.
John Gasaway, echoing this:
In the real world, where employment is kind of important, a person in the situation I’ve just described is going to update the top of their resume (”Became first coach in 17 years to lose a tournament game to the guy I lost to”) and start working their contacts. But DeChellis isn’t in the real world. Until yesterday he was a major-conference head coach. He’s supposed to barricade his office door and hold on for dear life. 
And for what? To avoid the salary cut he’s now taking? If you’re Ed DeChellis in the spring of 2011, there’s a prohibitive likelihood that a salary cut is on the way, no matter what. By taking the job at Navy the coach has negotiated this cut on a timetable of his own making. Besides, any normal human would be thrilled to be pulling down a reported $450K in a quaint, historic, and highly livable Chesapeake town located in close proximity to substantial cities and airports. No, the Middies aren’t going to the Final Four anytime soon, but expectations at the 5700-seat Alumni Hall are set accordingly. Not to mention the unique nature of the Naval Academy’s student population means the regular recruiting grind is, mostly, a thing of the past for DeChellis. (He now has little or no reason to attend all those AAU events. Woe is Ed!)
Sometimes ambition runs dry, and you realize that a little extra money isn't worth the gnawing pain at the back of your eyeballs. DeChellis took his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament and now gets to go into semi-retirement (relatively speaking of course; now his work load will drop to 40-60 hours a week), earn half a million dollars each year in a nicer area of the country, and he won't wake up every morning wondering whether he will have a job if 19 year olds don't make their free throws next February. You or I would have thought long and hard about making that same decision. It is a testament to the insanity of college coaches that more do not do the same.