That's what I've meant when I've written that the problem is deeper than 0-12 and deeper than whether KK can win - and win the right way - here. That's what I meant when I wrote that Santa Clara athletically has become the Canisius of the West. There's no identity, no established objectives other than trying to play catchup with Gonzaga and St. Mary's (and now BYU), no voice that resounds above the cacophony. The visual that comes to mind for me is the House of Commons with no parliamentary procedure in place and the back-benchers shouting everyone else down while the leadership looks on with a collective look of benign resignation.
I will keep this short (for me, anyway) because I've written most of this before, and I think BET and others have stated the dilemmas that are most immediate: The talent level is higher than before KK's arrival, but the players aren't getting better, individually or collectively. Too many of them are leaving with eligibility remaining. Many people who have cared about Santa Clara athletics over generations don't care anymore, and that's worse than them being angry.
I don't think KK will be fired after this season unless there's another mass exodus of players or some sort of scandal far superseding the Foster DUI. The university is not going to buy out the four years, and the alums who orchestrated the DD debacle are not going to admit they were wrong and pony up more money to buy out KK's contract. Same is true for Coonan. Assuming they're here at least another year, here's what I'd do during the spring and summer if I were the university president:
I'd designate, or preferably bring in from the outside, somebody capable through experience and temperament of creating a template based on what's realistic for Santa Clara within the context of its resources, its heritage and the overall university mission. This individual would stay only long enough to establish that template, give it legs and put it into motion by bringing in the people best suited for what needs to be done.
SCU has an unparalleled resource only a few miles away - Carroll Williams, who knows more about more things than anybody I've ever met in sports. I don't know that Carroll would be willing to take something like this on, but at the very least, I'd want him involved. Another name that comes to mind is Stan Morrison, who has been involved almost continuously in California collegiate sports for 50 years, knows the Santa Clara situation as well as anybody who hasn't worked there, and has been very successful both as a coach and as an AD. I'm sure others could name similar individuals. Whomever he is, he would draw the map and decide the destination.
What's the destination? In the DD book, Mark Purdy talks at considerable length about what Xavier did under similar circumstances in the late 1970s when its athletic program was foundering. The decision was, broadly, let's try to do what Georgetown is doing. So they hired an AD who'd worked at Georgetown, who in turn brought in others familiar with Georgetown and other Big East private schools. They hired a basketball coach, Bob Staak, whose experience and temperament suited him to find and teach the kind of players and personalities Xavier wanted. You've seen the results ... even though Xavier has lost coaches to power-conference schools several times since then, the sense of what and who it is has remained constant over three decades, in a situation (metro Jesuit school in the shadow of much bigger universities) very similar to Santa Clara's. Gonzaga and St. Mary's shouldn't be the models. Two very different schools, two very different places, two very different sets of resources and objectives.
In terms of whether Coonan and/or KK are part of that quest, that would be up to this executive AD, or whatever you want to call him. If changes were to be made, I might make use of a consultant, as Stanford did when Dawkins hired DD. But I wouldn't rely exclusively on its recommendations. I think it's important that the alumni tails that wagged the dog in the DD situation be supplemented - not supplanted, but supplemented - on a broader range by people with Santa Clara sports backgrounds who don't have financial cowboys in the rodeo.
I'd also want to hear from basketball elders who don't have any direct Santa Clara ties ... Bob Knight, who is a close friend of Carroll's, comes immediately to mind as someone whose perspective I'd welcome. I don't particularly like Knight, but in terms of identifying and working with individuals who can become better as players and people than they thought they could be, he knows as much as anyone about what Santa Clara needs to relearn how to do. Jerry Tarkanian is another, as a low-key guy who galvanized a high-profile community looking for an identity, and who literally saved some players' lives. I'd try to get the advice of someone who has a broad perspective of the valley business community ... what kind of hire(s) would give the business sector the sense that Santa Clara basketball and Santa Clara athletics are sound investments? Finally, I'd find somebody who's just Joe Fan, who is heavily into sports but isn't originally from here, and has never found a reason to support Santa Clara. What would it take, in terms of hiring and in terms of promotion, to get this Joe Fan and his family out to games on a regular basis, besides winning?
As it stands now, I don't think anybody knows where Santa Clara basketball and Santa Clara athletics are going, except straight down. And that's not exclusively, or even largely, on KK. Using the parliamentary analogy again, the sense is that Stanley Baldwin or Neville Chamberlain is the PM. I don't know if there's a Winston Churchill out there, but at this point, you need at least an Anthony Eden to provide some sense of direction.
Or, to put it the way I put it in the lead, this is a 161-year-old teenager who needs to decide who and what it's going to be when it grows up.
(Oops, not short. Sorry about that. Now you know why my editors in my newspaper days so often became exasperated with me)