Get Rid Of Carmody? Seems Risky

March 20, 2012

NU Hoops

Is Bill Carmody next to go?

A third head coaching vacancy may be coming to a Big Ten town near you (especially if you live near Evanston, Illinois).

From the Trib:

Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips declined to speak publicly Monday, and a team spokesman said coach Bill Carmody was “unavailable” for interviews.

Phillips is evaluating Carmody this week, trying to determine whether to give him a 13th season.

Most NU fans would be OK with a new coach, based on the highly unscientific combination of emails received, website comments that accompany stories and a poll of 400-plus voters at, NU’s top sports blog. Around 64 percent hope Carmody will be replaced; 19 percent advocate one more year and 17 percent favor several more years.

Well, I don’t see what could go wrong with making decisions based in part of pleasing people with access to an Internet connection. Do you?

This is being handled in true Northwesternly fashion (plodding and inept). Phillips is leaving Carmody twisting in the wind, as other schools (Nebraska and Illinois among them) made quick decisions and launched coach searches.

But, if you were a mid-major coach of any promise, would you want the Northwestern job? Could Northwestern get somebody better?


  • John Shurna doesn’t have any more eligibility. We are told he’s pretty good. The rest of them? Not so much.
  • Carmody has actually coached Northwestern to a level of respectability. Other than the dismal 2007 and 2008 seasons (two and one win), here are his Big Ten win totals since 2003 (selected because they were bad in 2003): eight, six, six, two, one, eight, seven, seven.
  • In the 16 seasons before Carmody’s arrival, the Wildcats won more than three games in a Big Ten season precisely twice. In fact, here are their win totals in that time: two, two, two, two, two, two, zero, two, three, five, one, two, two, three, six, zero.

In short, Carmody has been better. Significantly better. In fact, he’s been leaps and bounds better than any coach since the wonderfully mediocre Arthur Lonborg, who was 138-141 in Big Ten games between 1927 and 1950.

So be careful what you ask for, Northwestern fans.

Arthur Lonborg isn’t walking through that door.

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9 Comments on “Get Rid Of Carmody? Seems Risky”

  1. Rowdiesdotcom Says:

    Carmody has done a pretty good job, but now there are raised expectations after his decade of work. I’m sure he would agree that the expectation is now make the NCAAs. But sometimes you need to fresh start with an overachieving type to take you over the top, to the next level, insert cliche, but it’s true.

    Carmody has another year on his contract, so I think they will keep him around. If not Chris Collins and other mid-major coaches–who knows, maybe even Shaka Smart–would be on the list if they are up for the challenge.

    They will have a decent team next year. You haven’t been paying attention but Cobb, Hearn, Marcotullio, Sobolewski are good group around Crawford who is star in the making. Some big men and transfer from TCU are coming in next year too. I think their experience with Carmody’s system and comfort with him will allow the coach one more year.

    After that, it’s time to take a look elsewhere.


    • Tony Says:

      That may be the expectation, but it remains unlikely year to year, unfortunately (my general rule is: If something has never happened, it probably isn’t happening this year. The flip side: Don’t mistake “hasn’t” for “can’t,” but whatever).

      While they may have good players coming in, they aren’t nearly as good as those going to Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota or Illinois in any combination of years (including next year).

      So I guess the point is: Northwestern fans should be careful what they wish for. Shaka Smart isn’t bringing havoc to Evanston,a nd Carmody has been better than anybody in our lifetimes.


  2. Rowdiesdotcom Says:

    Yeah, that’s probably what they said to Gary Barnett in 1995, Randy Walker after him, and Pat Fitzgerald today. The point is, any program can get turned around if NU football could.


    • Tony Says:

      Bill Carmody is 76-54 in last four years. He has turned around the basketball program.

      As far as the football coaches, they all had some very good years. But here are their overall records in Evanston:

      Gary Barnett 35-36
      Randy Walker 37-46
      Pat Fitzgerald 40-35


      • Rowdiesdotcom Says:

        That’t clearly the debate. Has he turned it around? He had success early in his tenure that dropped off. What has his overall record been? My point is that the others kept it going beyond Barnett and you need that newness at the same successful level. Regardless of records, Barnett won 2 B10s, Walker 1, and Fitzgerald has been to several bowls. If Carmody can’t make the NCAAs then he will have leveled off–to most fans the NIT isn’t good enough and, like I mentioned above, I’m sure he’d agreee.


  3. numildcats2003 Says:

    Northwestern will be lucky to win 5 Big Ten games next year, and this is just delaying the inevitable. NU is notoriously cheap in athletics (although better recently), and they weren’t going to pay him for a year he didn’t coach. That was the entire decision. The team is not good, Carmody is not good, and NU is actually spending money on athletics these days in an attempt to raise their overall profile and increase the number of applicants even higher. The only sport with which they have thus far accepted complete mediocrity (and more than a decade of not being a top 50 team in the country or in the top half of your conference qualifies) is men’s basketball. Carmody only looked better the last 4 years because of Shurna and Coble. His record looks good because they play next to no one in their non-conference schedule. The Big Ten record tells the story: 66-136 in 12 years and 30-42 in the last 4. The saddest comparison between football and basketball is that in basketball you only need a couple good players. That is why the nerdy private schools can consistently compete in basketball (see Stanford, Vanderbilt, Duke, etc.) and not football.


  4. Rowdiesdotcom Says:

    He should’ve been let go strictly on how he handled the Coble situation. Together Coble and Shurna would’ve been good enough to lead them to the NCAAs.


  5. numildcats2003 Says:

    I agree completely.



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