Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lessons in SMU Hate - Matt Doherty.

SMU Basketball Coach Matt "Robo-Doh" Doherty, as seen in his younger years.

Thus far our lessons have included football coach hate, football team hate, football recruit hate, and football alumnus hate. Sounds like the basketball teams needs a little love, no? Enter Coach Matt Doherty.

When Doherty was hired, it was a pretty big deal for SMUs basketball program. Despite his short comings as head coach at North Carolina – and oh, the comings were definitely short – the fact remained: the man had coached at North Carolina, which for years had been one of if not THE premier programs in the country. In fact, when he was hired, I remember the consensus in Fort Worth was that we hired the wrong Daugherty – play on words LOLZ!! – although it doesn’t look like we hired the right Christian either. Unfortunately, Jesus is unavailable, and I’m not sure turning water into wine can even be remotely compared to turning TCU into a respectable basketball program.

However, nearly four years and a 47-63 record later, it doesn’t look like Doherty has much of a knack for coaching, even in a league like Conference USA where for the past few years, once you got pummeled twice by Memphis, second place was wide open. It’s not ironic then that Doherty’s potential un-doing would come at the hands of said Tigers.

Even before coming to campus, Doherty had a bit of a reputation as a hot head. In fact, during a 2003 Duke/UNC game when Doherty was still Head Coach of the Heels, he got into a fight on the sidelines during the game with a Duke assistant. Now, if you’re going to punch out Coach K that’s one thing and that probably would’ve been pretty awesome, but an assistant? Come on Coach, only Mike Locksley can get away with doing that while losing AND save his job. You coach at a powerhouse. You should be better than that.

Although this wasn’t officially Doherty’s un-doing at UNC, it’s probably not a coincidence that he was fired at the end of that season after three years in which he missed the post season once and only made the NIT in another. And it’s not like UNC fans weren’t pulling for the guy – he was a native son, having played for the school when legendary coach Dean Smith was still on the bench. And it’s not like he didn’t have a squad to work with – the year before Doherty took over, the team had advanced to the Final Four and while he did well during his first season at the helm, during his second season North Carolina had their worst performance EVER, winning only 8 games. And by ever, I do mean ever - most losses of all time and worst ACC finish for a UNC team in their history. A by their standards meager 19-16 record the next season would’ve sealed the deal anyway, but outbursts such as the one against Duke probably didn’t help his case either, despite being “in the family.” Also, despite early goodwill, Doherty had become extremely cross with the administration, and had completely divided his locker room, with him being on one side and the team being on the other. Red flag much?

So after a few years in exile, including a stint at Florida Atlantic, Doherty came to SMU, which is what brings us to today’s lesson. So, I’ve established that Doherty is a bit of a hot head and less of a coach, although there is a difference between being a hot head at North Carolina and being a hot head at SMU. Earlier this season, SMU beat Memphis in Dallas for the first time in 50 years – a big accomplishment, yes, but with former Memphis Head Coach John Calipari ditching the school in the post season, gutting its recruiting class, and then leaving it in the wake of an NCAA investigation, that’d be kind of like the Nets beating the Lakers while Kobe Bryant is in the middle of a rape investigation and only plays for 5 minutes. Or Alabama winning a National Championship with Colt McCoy crying in the locker room. In other words – good job and the end result is the same, but couldn’t it have been a whole lot juicier?

Apparently the Ponies were none-too-modest about the victory either, with the arena announcer REALLY rubbing it in, but don’t be mistaken, it wasn’t like SMU snuck by the Tigers – they blasted them by over 20 points. So you could say there may have been a little bit of bad blood when SMU headed up to face the Tigers on their home floor a couple of weeks ago. And after Memphis pulled out a 13 point victory, the fiery, asshole Doherty of old emerged from hiding.

This take from College Hoops Journal does a pretty solid job of breaking down what went on that night, and even has a bit of video of the aftermath between Doherty and Memphis Coach John Pastner. But, it sounds like the sparks really flew between Doherty and the Memphis fans.

Now, we all know that there are fans out there that care a lot less about the game than about riling up the opposing team and anyone associated. That’s just part of it. We’ve all been there – in fact, I’m pretty sure Bob Huggins left Cincinnati in part due to the self-esteem beat down me and some others gave him one year from directly behind the Bearcats bench, only stopping when his wife, who was unknowingly sitting close by, gave us a stern talking to. But, there’s a reason we do this as fans. One is, of course, alcohol, but two is the fact that, unless the person is an unstable maniac like Ron Artest, the most they’re going to do is give you a cursory glance or wave of the hand in rebuke. Rarely do they respond, and NEVER does a coach respond. It’s called “professionalism” and ignoring poor fan behavior comes with the job.

Unless you’re Matt Doherty.

It seems like young Matthew not only let the fans get in his head, he actually instigated the banter himself. In truth, he got in a pretty good zinger, informing Memphis that, “Hey, at least my players took their SATs” – an extremely valid point – but then he took it a step further, telling Memphis fans that they needed to remove all of their banners because they’re not a “real” school and that he went to a “real” school so he’s… schooled on such matters. Their response? “Yeah, and that real school fired you.” Nice. Very Nice. I mean that. He also referred to the school as “Memphis Tech,” which, given my completely uninformed knowledge of Memphis’ academic standards, is probably an insult to technical schools everywhere, including Texas.

This then led to the post game altercation between Doherty and Pastner as well as several incidents between players from the two teams. Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps Doherty should keep his mouth shut re: schools with a checkered recruiting past when he’s a representative of the school that wrote the book on such matters? Just a suggestion.

The point I’m trying to make here is: Would a legitimate coach of a legitimate program ever get involved in fan harassment? Gary Patterson is as fiery as they come and I can’t imagine someone who’s bad side I’d less rather bring out, but could you even begin to imagine him getting into an argument with an unruly SMU fan? The coach is supposed to be a model for his team – he may not always be perfect, but his main function is to develop his players as athletes but also as individuals. The fact that Doherty’s actions not only led to an altercation between himself and Memphis but also between his players and Memphis shows the kind of example Doherty has set for his team. That’s probably why he’s never had a winning season at the school, didn’t get a “signature” win until this season and never had a decent recruiting class despite Dallas being one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation.

But, this isn’t even about his track record at the school in a basketball related sense; I’d be the biggest hypocrite of all time if I criticized another school in the DFW area that can’t recruit or win conference games. Plenty of teams lose more games than they win but there’s a way to lose with class and there’s a way, if you have the fortune of winning a big one every now and again, to do that with class as well. Apparently “Robo-Doh,” as the SMU contingency lovingly refer to him, wasn’t programmed that way. Unfortunately for him, it may cause SMU to disassemble his career.

Hughes Pro Stock Rising

From ESPN College Football Blog by Graham Watson:

The NFL combine turned out to be the best opportunity for several non-AQ players to get noticed and increase their draft stock this past week.
Todd McShay, director of recruiting for Scouts Inc., noted a couple non-AQ players who significantly helped themselves during the NFL scouting combine. Included in that list was Ohio receiver Taylor Price and SMU receiver Emmanuel Sanders who tied for the second-best 40 times in the wide receiver group. I noted in an earlier post that McShay and other scouts were impressed with both players and both helped themselves immensely during workouts.

Here’s what McShay had to say about a couple of other non-AQ prospects.

HughesMcShay on TCU outside linebacker Jerry Hughes:
No player improved his stock more than TCU's Jerry Hughes At 6-2 and 255 pounds, the undersized edge rusher put to rest any concerns regarding his top-end speed when he ran an official 40-yard dash time of 4.69 seconds, fourth-best among the defensive linemen.

His fluidity in space was better than we thought it would be based on his film. Hughes stayed low and changed directions smoothly, which gives teams extra confidence in his potential to convert to outside linebacker in an odd-man front.

Finally, Hughes exceeded expectations with 26 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press. This strong workout in addition to the explosive pass-rushing ability he displays on tape should land Hughes a spot in the second round of the upcoming draft.

Prior to the 2009 season, Hughes was told by the NFL's undergraduate advisory committee that he was a possible late first-round or early second-round pick. His statistics weren't as strong last year as they were in 2008, so Hughes needed a good combine to show that he wasn't slipping. It appears as though he did enough to at least bump himself into the second round.

Nocona Boots Giveaway Winner

I drew the winner today of our Nocona Boots Giveaway, two days later than promised.

The original post is here, in case you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Our winner is from Dallas and is in the process of moving back from Boston. He attended TCU from 2003-2007. His favorite Frog memory is traveling down from Boston this year to watch TCU embarrass Utah. His favorite Frog of all time is Marvin "Gator" White. He has been following Spitblood since 2008.

Congratulations, and once again, thanks to everyone who entered, and for all of you who donated to the Purple People Seaters campaign this year.

Frogs headed to Fat City, USA

OK, before all you Houstonians get your keyboards all sticky with frosting from angrily emailing me over that headline, I should clarify that Houston is only the 6th fattest city in the United States.

Enron Field is the setting for this weekend's Houston College Classic, where the #7 Horned Frogs will face off against Texas Tech (tomorrow at noon...goodbye, office productivity), Missouri (Saturday at noon) and Rice (Sunday evening). has a pretty good preview of the weekend's action, including the pitching matchups:

Friday vs. Texas Tech:
Steven Maxwell (2-0, 0.89) vs. Chad Bettis (2-0, 0.69)

Saturday vs. Mizzou:
Matt Purke (1-0, 8.59) vs. Nate Tepesch (1-0, 9.90)

Sunday vs. Rice:
Kyle Winkler (2-0, 1.00) vs. Boogie Anagnostu (you can't make that up- 1-1, 5.56)

Top non-AQ Running Back Transfers

From the ESPN College Football Blog by Graham Watson

Aundre Dean, TCU: Dean came from UCLA last year as a Parade All-American running back, but this spring he’ll be trying his hand at safety. TCU is loaded at running back and Dean probably would have seen spot time behind Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker. But the Horned Frogs are thin at safety and it’s an opportunity for Dean to play. Plus, the TCU coaching staff has proved time and time again that it has a knack for placing players in positions that accentuate their abilities.

Tech coming to town March 12-14

As I mentioned the other day, fan support at Lupton Stadium has been incredible in the early going this baseball season, with crowds about 30% bigger than the average game last year...even with somewhat-chilly weather and against less than marketable opponents (Sam Houston and UTSA).

Now it may be getting a little ahead of things, what with the Frogs' big trip to Houston this weekend (to play, of all people, Tech on Friday night as well as Missouri and Rice), but the Frogs do have a big home series next weekend against Tech and as David Peterson at pointed out, the students will be on spring break that weekend. That means it'll be up to the alumni to replace all of the energy and noise that the students have been bringing all year while the Red Raiders are in town.

TCU's final football opening to be filled by...

From the mouth of a Tennessee Tech football player the final piece of our scheduling puzzle will be the Golden Eagles from Cookeville, TN. TTU , formerly Dixie College, hails from the Ohio Valley Conference.

Fresh off a 6-5 season in '09 it would mark the second time in the last few years the Frogs have played a non-conference game against one of GP's former teams (UC-Davis '06), Patterson was TTU's LB coach from '83-'84.

I'm sure you will all be thrilled with this, but it does fit GP's general scheduling philosophy.

*I've probably been wrong at some point in my life, so take it for what it's worth

Morning Dump

Short-handed TCU Horned Frogs can't quite land upset kiss on Lobos Star-Telegram

TCU senior guard had to follow winding path

TCU enjoying its new power status Yahoo! Sports

MT hires Schultz as new offensive coordinator
-I don't know why TN schools think they can change their name. Just like Memphis will always be Memphis State, Middle Tennessee will always be Middle Tennessee State. Not that anyone gives a shit.