The Case for the Next Level, here at Intermission.
In 2013 Creighton was amongst the trio of schools accepted into the reconfigured Big East Conference. It was a shining moment in CU’s history to finally make it to the “bigtime” as a basketball school. Fr. Lanning worked tirelessly, canvassing, cajoling, selling CU, calling in markers and favors, sidebar caucusing, like a master salesman. Finally, it was done and Creighton was now a big boy school.
Back then optimism was high as were expectations that CU would gradually rise to competitive levels of recruiting, play, and rewards. Goals of winning exempt tourney championships, Big East Championships (both RS and BET), and making Sweet 16 and better NCAA runs- with an eye to eventually compete towards a national championship, were our optimistic and long-term goals. Fortunately we had a senior-led team with an All-American and excellent support cast, Creighton hit the ground running.
The next year with the loss of 4 seniors and some supporting members, Creighton experienced a sharp dropoff, and we’ve been rebuilding ever since. While Jays recruiting has experienced a rise over the last six years, our performance has not kept pace. Our 17 and 18 recruiting classes were very good (top 100) and we have promise of another good class in 2019.
We have recently completed year six in the Big East Conference. Most years it is a struggle to reach the 20 win platform and we have grown accustomed to repeated double digit loss accumulation annually. Creighton has settled in as a mid-tier performer in a major conference: a middling major player. We strive to be .500 or better in conference (83%), reach the 20 win platform (83%), to compete for the conference crown. We strive to be good enough to get a 7-11 seed bid in the NCAA tourney each year. The Jays have accomplished the NCAA goal 50% of the time these last 6 years. Creighton has performed pretty well as a mid-tier team. However, becoming a mid-tier major was not among our original goals.
Most of Creighton fandom are of the opinion to continue the course with Coach McDermott in spite of the record he has built. Most are happy with the results to date and think CU will make a marked improvement, given the talent onboard, during the tenure of the ’17-19 classes. While that is a distinct possibility, I hesitate to jump on the bandwagon as the record to date indicates more of the same old stuff, not a profound leap to top tier status. For the majority, only failure to produce significant results with the current talent over the next 2-3 years would awaken calls for change. Some will admit that it seems that coach has become a bit too “comfortable” and perhaps complacent.
2019 goes on record as having several upper tier coaches available and less of a coaching carousel in job availability. I am on record that we need to upgrade our coaching acumen/talent now, as Mac has given us a 9 year record of what he is capable of. My opinion is that Mac has hit his ceiling and is not the coach to elevate our program to the next level.
Creighton has a current campaign in progress to raise monies for coaching salaries. I submit to you, that campaign money along with contributions from our deep pocket donor base, be used to hire an available upper tier coach. Pitino, Sr., Matta, Dixon, S. Miller, Beard, others, are available for hire to revive the goals of taking CU to the next level with regards to basketball achievements.
With Bruce Rasmussen at the Athletic Director spot, it seems highly unlikely that any such change will be made, as Coach McDermott is held in good stead with the AD. Coach already has a 2-3 year extension on his contract in place. That places his tenure at 13 years – out to 2023. Unless issues from an unforeseen source arise (FBI investigation, Mac takes a better job or retires, bottom falls out, Rasmussen retires, Pres. Hendrickson override, etc.), our program will remain in Mac’s hands for the next 4 years at minimum.
Therefore here at the end of year nine overall, is a good time for an intermission1, a pause for a reality check. A time to reaffirm our commitment to striving for Creighton’s ascendance to the next level of college basketball achievement.
- Psychologically, intermissions allow audiences to pause their suspension of disbelief and return to reality, and are a period during which they can engage critical faculties that they have suspended during the performance itself.