College of Charleston, South Carolina and Clemson fan bases usually are not so united. But Monday morning quarterbacks share Gregg Marshall remorse this week.
Twice apiece the Palmetto State schools had an opportunity to land the Greenwood native. Marshall, a former Cougars assistant and Winthrop head coach, has surging Wichita State in the Final Four and cries of “What if?” echo across South Carolina.
Of course, the College of Charleston actually did hire Marshall in 2006, but kept him for only one day before he changed his mind and returned to Winthrop.
While second-guessing is easy in light of the Final Four run, note that Marshall hasn’t been a prime talent target outside the Palmetto State, either. Until last week, he remained beneath the national radar. Wichita State didn’t win the Missouri Valley Conference regular season or tournament title this year (Creighton won both).
But here’s a look at the most recent head coaching moves made at the College of Charleston, South Carolina and Clemson, in chronological order, with a Marshall resume update at each step.
And the dreaded Regret Percentage:
2002, College of Charleston
Marshall: In his fourth year at Winthrop, he led the Eagles to their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance as Big South champs.
For some College of Charleston fans, Marshall was the obvious choice when Kresse resigned. But a search committee led by former athletic director Jerry Baker picked Virginia assistant coach Tom Herrion in a candidate field that included Olar native Dave Dickerson, then a Maryland assistant and now an assistant at Ohio State. Marshall later privately complained that his interview seemed “courtesy” in nature.
Regret Percentage: 85. Sure, Marshall might have stayed only a few years before moving up. But, in retrospect, what were they thinking?
Marshall: Winthrop didn’t reach the NCAA Tournament in 2003, but four out of five isn’t bad.
Clemson plucked Oliver Purnell away from Dayton, and it’s hard to fault former athletic director Terry Don Phillips here. Purnell took the Tigers to three straight NCAA Tournaments (no wins) before sensing a drop-off and leaving for DePaul.
Regret Percentage: 10. Purnell was great for Clemson, and vice versa.
2006, College of Charleston
Marshall: Winthrop won the Big South tournament in 2005 and 2006 – six NCAA Tournament trips in eight seasons.
It was such a strange whirlwind transition, it’s still hard to believe. Herrion was forced out but not until June. Power brokers circumvented the athletic department and got Marshall to commit. Marshall was introduced as head coach, but within 24 hours “pulled a Bobby Cremins” – reference to Cremins returning to Georgia Tech after taking the job at South Carolina, his alma mater. So, of course, Cremins rode to the Cougars’ rescue.
Regret Percentage: 50, high considering Marshall flip-flopped. But a more thorough recruiting effort with everyone at the frayed school on the same page might have worked better, resulting in a stepping-stone stay for Marshall.
2008, South Carolina
Marshall: Coming off an 11-20 record in his first season at Wichita State. But he left Winthrop with seven NCAA Tournament appearances in nine years, including a 2007 first-round upset of Notre Dame.
Two NIT titles and one NCAA Tournament appearance over seven years were not enough to keep Dave Odom around at South Carolina. Eric Hyman did many excellent things at the school but the former athletic director whiffed in his only revenue sport hire, Darrin Horn of Western Kentucky.
Regret Percentage: 35, marked down because of the understandable concern at South Carolina – and among Wichita State fans – about Marshall’s first season with the Shockers.
Marshall: Clearly, Wichita State was on the right track: 11-20, 17-17, then 25-10 and a first-round NIT loss in 2010.
Clemson looked to the Midwest for a Purnell replacement, and tabbed a young and respected floor coach that had been a head coach in the Carolinas. But it was Wright State’s Brad Brownell, formerly of UNC Wilmington. Brownell extended the Tigers’ NCAA Tournament streak to a record four years in a row in 2011, with slippage ever since.
Regret Percentage: 70. Slowly but surely, Marshall wins. Brownell? We’ll see.
2012, South Carolina
Marshall: More Wichita State progress, with an NIT championship in 2011 and an NCAA Tournament breakthrough in 2012 (first-round loss to No. 12 VCU).
Hyman on his way out the door in Columbia fired Horn. He looked to Kansas for a new head coach but apparently didn’t seriously consider Marshall, hiring Frank Martin away from Kansas State. The move was widely applauded by fans and media.
Regret Percentage: 40, going up or down with Martin’s NCAA Tournament record.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.
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