Resignation may have major roster implications

Replacing a coach in any sport is a tough process that has many repercussions, but in college sports it is especially problematic and causes ramifications that an athletics director can sometimes never control.

U basketball coach Rick Majerus’ career at the university will come to an end after this season and athletics director Chris Hill has one objective: damage control.

Majerus was the biggest name on campus and one of the biggest around the nation. He is the name that comes to mind when people think of athletics at the school, and now with Majerus gone, what will Hill do?

What does any athletics director have to go through in a time like this?

“Rick has built a tremendous name over the last 15 years and there is no question that he has set a very high standard of winning and losing and the conduct of our players,” Hill said. “That’s what happens. Nothing lasts forever.”

The first problem is dealing with the way the team will perform if the change has to be made during the season.

How much fire will the team have if it has to deal with a new personality?

Will the quality of the coaching position diminish enough to really hurt the team’s goals?

Assistant coach Kerry Rupp is going to take over as interim coach. He has big shoes to fill, especially with the amount of work Majerus put in prior to each game.

Whether or not Majerus returns this season obviously plays a major factor in this, but the players’ demeanor may be hurt anyway because there are so many other outside distractions affecting the team.

But that problem is not as long lasting as the others, even though it obviously is an issue.

However, Hill can take care of that problem by doing what he has been doing, and that is constantly talking to the players and keeping them in the right state of mind.

But the other problems are much more critical to the prestige of the program.

Many student athletes come to the school because of a specific coach, and in the situation with Majerus, it is probably true with the majority of the players.

Australian freshman Andrew Bogut came here solely because of Majerus. Now that the coach will soon be gone for good, who knows what actions he or some of the other players may make. Options include transferring to another school or taking the risk of a direct jump to the pros.

I doubt anyone else will even try to transfer from the team, but now the young players that have been groomed in Majerus’ system will probably have to do it all over again next season.

This is a problem that Hill can’t control, but he has to deal with it, and it all goes along with the ramifications of a new coach.

“I think that any time you have a change, it is a challenge, and some people take it as a challenge of opportunity,” Hill said.

“Change is difficult for people and you have to work through it, and after it you keep moving.”

Hill’s main task comes in when he has to select a new coach, which is an objective that he hasn’t even began to undertake. But he will in the near future, and he will have to be very selective of who he chooses.

There is no doubt in my mind that the program will take a step back, at least for a few years, with the loss of Majerus.

Majerus’ success can’t be taken lightly and the results he brought to the team may never be exceeded.

A step back will really take place in national recruiting, which has been a focus for Utah since assistant coach Jeff Judkins was replaced.

It didn’t really matter with recruiting in the state because when you had a coach like Majerus who had taken his team to the NCAA title game, you had all the exposure you needed.

Let’s face it-this school is not going to get a coach like Majerus, but the school does have potential.

Utah scooped up football coach Urban Meyer and he has been an instant success here, but finding a basketball coach to do the same thing may be a tougher task.

“We have a really excellent university,” Hill said. “You’ve just got to get after it, make a change and keep on moving.”

With the prestige of the university moving up, considering the success of the football team along with the past success of the basketball program, finding a solid head coach should not be a problem.

But for Hill, it’s not about just finding the right coach, it’s also about salvaging as much of what Majerus gave the program as he can.

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