Marred in one of the worst seasons in recent memory, the 2013-2014 Virginia Tech men's basketball season is finally winding down to a merciful close. A 9-20 overall record (2-15 in the ACC) and an overwhelming disinterest in the team speaks for itself.
Tech fans are as loyal as any other fan base around, but when you post a 6-29 record the past two season's in- conference, can you really blame anyone? Questionable personnel decisions and strategy by Head Coach James Johnson will give new Athletics Director Whit Babcock a lot to think about in terms of who he envisions as the face of his hoops program moving forward. After all, it is ACC basketball for crying out loud!
ARE WE COMPETING ON THE SAME LEVEL FINANCIALLY?
How does the VT staff compare to it's conference counterparts, especially the head coach?
James Johnson is reported to be making in the neighborhood of $680,000 a year over his five year contract. To you and I, that's cash-money! But in the world of big time ACC basketball, that's chump change compared to former Hokies Head Coach Seth Greenberg, who made approximately $1,500,000 annually in total compensation. You get what you pay for, right?
I understand that this is Johnson's first job but that excuse quickly erodes when your team on a nightly basis stinks it up. And that's putting it nicely. Time for excuses are coming to an end as Johnson enters into year three of his five year deal. He will be receiving some help next year with three new players (four including Malik Mueller) and may have only one more season to show drastic improvement.
Babcock's former men's basketball program at Cincinnati were annually contending at championship levels. His record of replacing six coaches in his short tenure (2011 - 2014) at Cincinnati should ring volumes for any coaches at Virginia Tech, not just Johnson.
Lets compare Cincy's Head Coach Mick Cronin, who makes an annual salary of nearly $1,400,000. Sound familiar? Greenberg made the NCAA Tourney once in his nine year tenure at VT. The difference, Cronin's Bearcats under Babcock made the NCAA Tournament every year in arguably the most difficult conference at the time with the former BIG EAST.
WHAT DO THE OTHER GUYS MAKE?
According to USA Today Duke's Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski tops the list of highest paid coaches with an annual salary of $7.2 million! His resume speaks for itself, continued excellence year in and year out.
Coming in at second is none other than Louisville's Head Coach Rick Pitino who is raking in a hair under $5 million per year. Pitino's Cardinals won the 2013 Championship, while capturing the 1996 crown while coaching cross state rival Kentucky.
Here's how the rest of the conference compares (may not be accurate to the cent but you get the general idea):
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) - $1,905,576
Mark Gotfried (NC State) - $1,950,000
Mark Turgeon (Maryland) - $1,900,000
Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh) - $1,830,976
Tony Bennett (UVA) - $1,700,000
Roy Williams (UNC) - $1,773,938
Florida State's Leonard Hamilton, Miami's Jim Larranaga, Georgia Tech's Brian Gregory, Boston College's Steve Donahue, and Clemson's Brad Brownell are reported to all make at or above $1,000,000 per year (Wake Forest's figures were not made available).
We have the lowest paid coach in the conference and the worst record to match. We're paying for a poor product and it's results should not surprise anyone. Sadly, I don't think it has surprised anyone at all. The apathy that is Virginia Tech basketball is a sad sight.
The one thing I really took away from AD Whit Babcock's introductory press conference and subsequent interviews was that he stressed and re-iterated in creating "memorable experiences" and elevating the "customer experience." I don't it's any secret with the fan's displeasure with the sudden decline in performance with the basketball program.
Hoops is second only to football in terms of revenue and exposure, rest assured this will be one of Babcock's top priorities in getting turned around. When your athletic teams especially football and basketball do well, it brings notoriety and exposure to your school, adding to its perception and prestige. We too, know this first hand.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
I think Coach Johnson will get one more season to show significant improvement in overall team play and the ability to recruit championship level players. VT has built a beautiful state of the art basketball facility that cost $25 million to build and to be able to keep pace in luring top recruits, proving its dedication to building a quality hoops program.
I've heard grumblings that we now need a new arena to replace Cassell. News flash, don't hold your breath and that's not going to all of a sudden yield us four and five star recruits. Duke plays in a high school gym. Again, the excuses.
Virginia Tech has shown the ability, especially during Greenberg's tenure to compete at the highest levels and trade blows with the best of the best. We just need 'Boss Babcock' to figure out who can recruit and coach big time players to compete in the best basketball conference in the nation. It is possible.
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