August 14, 2012 in Division I
Eastern Michigan basketball coach
@robmurphyemu is leaving for a job with the Orlando Magic, a source tells me. Big blow for the Eagles.
— Graham Couch (@Graham_Couch) August 14, 2012
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reports the job will be in Orlando’s scouting department. I’m certainly not one to begrudge anyone from seeking a better job or better opportunity for whatever their professional goals are. But times like these, I always love going back and looking at the comments from introductory press conferences. Murphy’s does not disappoint:
“He’s been preparing his whole life for this position,” Martin said in introducing Murphy.
“He, more than anybody in the pool, would be able to (rebuild a connection to Detroit),” Gragg said. “Get in there and find young men that can come in here and be very successful academically and athletically.”
This all led to Thursday, when he shook more hands than he could ever remember, hugged and took pictures with Coleman, Gates and former Syracuse forward Terrence Roberts, who happened to be in town. He heard he had the support of Detroit mayor and NBA legend Dave Bing.
He also put pressure on himself from the first day, telling the crowd eating up his every word what he said in his interview Saturday: “I will not let you down.”
LOLz aside, this is a serious, serious blow for Eastern, a program in desperate need of some stability. Parrish points out how awful the timing is:
This development comes at an awful and unusual time for Eastern Michigan. It’s rare for a program to need to hire a new head coach in June, let alone halfway through August. The college basketball season is now less than two months away. And classes start on campus at Eastern Michigan in three weeks.
Look, I wish Murphy the best of luck with the Magic. This is what coaches do. But in his announcement speech on April 21, 2011, he used language like “this is not a stepping stone for me” and “I plan to build a program from the ground up.” I recognize that people will say that for recruiting purposes … but he owns those words left the job after 16 months. Once it’s confirmed he left for Orlando, it’s just another blow to the latent issue of coaching continuity in MAC men’s basketball.
(And hey, there’s still time to refute the report and stick with EMU, Coach.)
But in the short-term, the Eagles are going to find their third coach in as many years. I am guessing all the good ones are taken right now, so they really have no choice but to poach an assistant somewhere. Throw as many names out there as you want: someone’s going to jump right into a decent situation.
I would add that Eastern doesn’t have to be as hard-up as Sussman suggests. There is a certain four-time national champion JUCO coach about an hour away who just hauled in another in a long line of impressive recruiting classes who has been dying for a Division I coaching opportunity. Time to make the right call, EMU.