March 23, 2011

Perspective: Was Georgia State a Good Move? By Jerry Beach, a Hofstra Blogger

While everyone at IUPUI is happy for Coach Hunter's new position at Georgia State, I'm not too sure the move was as "up" as Ron would've liked. True, GSU is similar to IUPUI in that they are both urban institutions...but that's where the similarities end. 

You might (hopefully??) remember Jerry Beach of Defiantly Dutch, a Hofstra/CAA blog. He was kind enough to give us some real perspective about Ron Hunter's new school, and just how extensive his challenges will be.

Jerry Beach:

On one hand, Georgia State is the proverbial/cliched sleeping giant, because metro areas are great places to build really good mid-major programs. There's so much good talent in the area and a savvy recruiter can find those jewels that slip through the cracks--like Hofstra did when it turned the program around with Speedy Claxton (who played professionally in, ta da, Atlanta--OH MY GOD IT ALL TIES TOGETHER!!!) in the late '90s and has continued to do so the last 12 years. Hofstra was as close to rock bottom as a D-I program could get in the early-to-mid '90s but has won more games the last 12 years than any other program, big or small, in the metro NYC area.

Georgia State is also interesting b/c it just began playing football and seems to have designs on moving beyond I-AA as soon as possible (nothing concrete to back that up, just a hunch). That could eventually lift the program into a borderline BCS conference like Conference USA.

But I'd have to think that before GSU could do that, it would have to prove it can win in hoops, and Georgia State is a tough, tough place to win. GSU was pretty good in the Atlantic Sun but hasn't even treaded water since moving to the CAA. The Panthers haven't won more than 12 games overall or eight CAA games in their six years in the league.

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Ron will be their third coach in that span, which indicates there seems to be a lack of a long-term plan at GSU as well as some possible administration issues. Rod Barnes didn't win a lot of games, but he did a tremendous job of cleaning up a program that had one of the worst academic records in the country (link below). He had to do a lot more than just turn around a program on the court, and the thanks he got was a pink slip on the eve of the conference tournament. Fire him for lack of performance if you must, but doing so in that fashion reeks of a power play move by an AD.

GSU is staring up at some of the best mid-major programs in the country in the CAA and has a LONG way to go in a conference in which the sixth-place team this year won 21 games and the seventh-place team a year ago made the postseason (Hofstra in the CBI--oh hi IUPUI!). Its facilities (at least its home gym) pale in comparison to the others in the CAA. Geographically, it's also in a terrible location as the southern-most outpost in the league. Its closest "rival" is UNC Wilmington, close to 300 miles away, and the conference base in Virginia is 500 or so miles away. That's a lot of flights. The travel wears on Hofstra, which at least has a handful of schools within easy driving distance, so you can imagine what it does to GSU.

The geographical issues also mean that even if GSU moves to I-A in football and becomes competitive in hoops, its best long-term home could be.....the Sun Belt. You saw how the Sun Belt did this year in hoops: Its champ played in a play-in game for the right to be a no. 16 seed. So who knows what the future is for GSU?

My advice to Ron is to be patient and to build from the bottom. No more D-I transfers and JUCOs, that's what Rod Barnes did and look where it got him. Get a couple good recruiting classes under his belt, take some lumps the next couple years and hope that one of those kids in those classes is his Speedy Claxton or Charles Jenkins. Most importantly, he's got to hope that the administration has patience and realistic short-term expectations. Given what I've seen over the last couple years, I fear GSU's eyes are bigger than its stomach. #cliche


For more on Hofstra and the Colonial Athletic Association, check out Jerry's blog at Follow him on Twitter at @DefiantlyDutch. 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting comments and always interested in seeing those opinions outside the city.

    While many view this as a lateral move, I do not. IUPUI is a low major and has been in Division 1 for 10 seasons. Georgia State has been Division 1 since 1963-64 with very little success. We've got to 2 NCAA Tournaments (1991 and 2001) and had 1 win vs. Wisconsin.

    We moved to the CAA for several reasons but the main motive was to leave a conference in shambles in the A-Sun which had lost Troy, UCF, FAU, Jacksonville and others when they started football/moved to FBS.

    The CAA is one of the best mid-major leagues in the country and this year was not a shock to CAA fans. The conference returned 44 out of 60 starters and Georgia State only returned 1 in PG Marques Johnson.

    I agree totally about the need for the recruitment of HS Seniors and many do not know that we basically abandoned Atlanta area high schools under previous coaches Mike Perry and Lefty Driesell. Coach Barnes has built a solid foundation but brought in 7 Division 1 transfers who all but 1 were non-impact players in the CAA.

    Thanks for the writeup and feel free to hop on our boards at