Whether Tim Welsh resigned of his own accord or with a “nudge” from Hofstra, the right thing happened today, when the 33-day Welsh Era/Error ended with a 34-word news release.
It’s a sad and stunning end to something that seemed so promising as recently as last week, but retaining Welsh would have been a PR nightmare for a school that hates bad publicity (which is the only publicity it seems to be getting lately, but I digress). And with a mere month on the job, Welsh didn’t have nearly the political capital to convince Hofstra he was worth the headache.
Unfortunately, doing the right thing is often painful, and some dark days seem ahead for a Hofstra squad whose future appeared so bright just two months ago, when the Flying Dutchmen finished the regular season on an 8-1 tear, Charles Jenkins won the CAA player of the year and two members of a deep freshman class, Halil Kanacevic and Chaz Williams, made the all-rookie team.
Now the Dutchmen are searching for a new coach for the second time in six weeks, and whomever the new NEW guy is will have a lot more to repair and restore than Welsh did. The new NEW guy will have to make sure Kanacevic is the only departure among the freshman. He’ll also have the task of building trust with Jenkins, Nathaniel Lester, Greg Washington and Brad Kelleher, all of whom are seeing their opportunity at a storybook senior season slip away.
It’s not unsalvageable, but don’t kid yourself, it’s a big ol’ mess. And a mistake in the new NEW coaching search and Hofstra will have a lot more to worry about than just trying to save 2010-11.
Here’s a completely uninformed look at five possible candidates to become the new NEW Hofstra coach, in order of likelihood they’ll stroll the sidelines in Hempstead next season.
Jerry Wainwright: If Hofstra is looking for a caretaker—whether of the one-year variety, a theory floated today by noted Hofstra hoops expert Mike Francesa, or of the Butch van Breda Kolff type—then it could do a lot worse than Wainwright, 63. He got fired by DePaul midway through this season, but he won two CAA titles with UNC Wilmington and took Richmond to the NCAA Tournament in his second year there. But would he be willing to leave North Carolina for what could be a very short gig?
Van Macon: The ex-Hofstra assistant is the best candidate and the only person who could bring anything resembling continuity to the program. But would he be willing to come back to a school that was so quick to overlook him a month ago? And would Tom Pecora be willing to let him go now that Fordham is neck-deep in recruiting season?
Tom Moore: The Quinnipiac coach has ties to Jack Hayes from their days at UConn. But he just signed an extension at Quinnipiac and, like Rice, seems positioned for a BCS gig sooner than later. Almost as importantly: How much influence will Hayes have on this hire?
Mike Rice: The Robert Morris coach is the biggest and hottest name out there, and making this type of splash would be the fastest way to wash away the embarrassment created by Welsh. But this is too close to a lateral move for someone who has made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and who shouldn’t need to stop at another mid-major in order to position himself for a BCS gig.
Tom Pecora: Hey, you never know.