Coaches' laments about transfers ring of hypocrisy
ST. LOUIS -- Hey, Mike Anderson, what's your take on the growing number of transfers in college basketball?
The Arkansas coach hopped on his soapbox and landed in a steaming pile of hypocrisy.
“It’s something that has to be dealt with,” Anderson said Monday, during the Southeastern Conference summer hoops teleconference.
Transfer statistics are startling. Approximately 40 percent of Division I college basketball players switch schools within their first two years. For the second year in a row, 400-plus young men have sought greener paint on different hardwoods. The SEC alone has lost 19 and added four since last season ended.
But Anderson wagging his finger is sure to cause some scoffing. Here’s a coach who, before joining the Razorbacks, spent nearly every offseason at Missouri flirting with other schools (Oregon, Georgia). He finally left Mizzou for a pay upgrade in 2011, less than a month after he said, "I plan on being at Missouri for a long time, retire here.”
Anderson wasn’t the only one sounding silly Monday.
Transfers were a popular theme on the teleconference, and most every coach took his turn to complain about the trend. No one confessed to luring college players away from other schools -- something that encourages unhappy athletes to jump ship. No one pointed out that transfers, unlike coaches, sit out a year when they switch; most said they think graduate transfers, who can play immediately at their new destination, should also sit for a season. To summarize, coaches went the Scooby-Doo route and blamed those meddling kids.
"It's not a college basketball problem, it's a grassroots problem,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “When we recruit these kids, they've transferred three or four times in high school. It's not like they're going to get to college and, all of a sudden, have an epiphany, and say, 'Oh, I have to deal with this difficult moment? Well, let me work through it and have patience and allow things to take place the right way.' It's not what these kids have been asked to do in the past. It's not what they've been taught to do at the grassroots level."
The coach, who has lost four transfers this offseason, continued.
“Kids are not being taught to stay the course,” Martin said. “The basics: learn how to work and improve. Everything is a quick fix. At the end of the day, that's the problem.”
That sound you hear is Kansas State fans grinding their teeth. Martin surprised the Wildcats when he bolted to South Carolina for a pay raise in March 2012. His move, encouraged by existing friction with Kansas State athletic director John Currie, was one of many that year. For the past three seasons, at least 50 Division I teams changed coaches, a carousel fueled by fast firings and coaches' willingness to leave programs behind.
This year has been no different. Coaching transfers include Andy Enfield leaving Florida Gulf Coast for USC and Richard Pitino trading Florida International for Minnesota. And then there's the doozy: Steve Alford's hop from New Mexico to UCLA.
In March, Alford's Lobos beat UNLV to win the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas. He helped cut the net down, and wore it around his neck as he said this in the postgame press conference:
"To think about that entire starting five being back, I'm pretty excited about the future."
He then took the job at UCLA 10 days after he had agreed to a 10-year contract extension with New Mexico.
Here's the deal.
Coaches -- some more professionally than others -- leave schools for what they think are better opportunities.
They should do us all a favor, and stop crying foul when kids do the same.
Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.