There has been a lot written about Penn State basketball and the departure of Ed DeChellis in the last couple of days, so much that, as someone who's followed the team closely for years, it's hard to grasp. For a program with so little tradition and such an indifferent fan base, it's hard to fathom the amount of media attention the Nittany Lion basketballers are getting.
There haven't been a whole lot of positive headlines, though. There's been some very harsh criticism, especially among those who know the program best. Enter David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
I am not going to pretend I would not have fired DeChellis three or four years ago had I been in Tim Curley's position. I would have.
But way before that time had arrived, I would have treated him and his program as if I cared. That means a much higher salary and much higher expectations. It means a budget that allows for a level playing field in recruiting. It means an arena or adjacent practice gym always available for the team and not rented out to a dinosaur hair band during the season's stretch run. It means an atmosphere where support personnel either exude excellence or are herded out of the way.
Nothing about president Graham Spanier's or athletics director Tim Curley's treatment of DeChellis' program cultivated such an aura. When it comes to men's basketball, they were and always have been a couple of shameless slumlords.
Pretty severe stuff. Penn State grad and current ESPN.com college basketball writer Dana O'Neil was pretty blunt as well.
If there is an equivalent spin on the coaching carousel, I haven’t thought of it. Why? Because it doesn’t happen. Coaches don’t voluntarily leave major conference jobs for low-major spots.
That DeChellis, a Penn State graduate, defied convention screams loud and clear as to just how bad things are at Penn State.
For years the basketball team has been a little sister of the poor stepchild to football, a winter afterthought given all the tending and care of a vegetable garden positioned in the middle of a nuclear field. Administrative support waffles between tepid applause and casual indifference.
The dirty little truth is, whether the team is good or bad, the university profits thanks to the hefty paycheck doled out by the Big Ten Network. And so the university pays little attention to and cares less about the program.
Needless to say, the media bullseye is now squarely on the back of guys like athletic director Tim Curley and even university president Graham Spanier. A bad hire here could cost them both dearly, especially Curley, whose sole focus is athletics.