Old Dominion fired head basketball coach Blaine Taylor today following last night's loss to George Mason that dropped the Monarchs to a very un-regal 2-20 record on the season. While at first glance the firing isn't a surprise given the team's record, you'd expect a coach who has achieved so much—as Taylor has at ODU, leading them to the NCAA tournament four times and a first-round win three years ago—to be able to survive a single wilderness campaign. After all, under Taylor's leadership the Monarchs have finished with 20 or more wins six times (including the past four seasons) and he's the all-time ODU wins leader.
Then again, this isn't just any wilderness campaign. After years of being known for a stingy defense, the Monarchs can't stop anyone from scoring this season; ODU went from being the 29th-best defense in the country last season to 303rd in 2013. Combine that with a struggling (257th-best) offense and it's not hard to see how they've racked up that 2-20 record.
As for why coach Blaine Taylor's been so ineffective at inspiring his team to do much of anything, we have only these clips from his radio program in late January. Throughout the program, he makes awkward statements, slurs his words, and goes on irrelevant tangents. Either he's sick, tired, or drunk. (Taylor says he hasn't had a drop of alcohol since emerging from a month-long rehab to combat alcoholism in 1995.)
Was ODU's season simply too awful to allow an accomplished coach to stay on the job? Was that awfulness a reflection of Taylor's inability to do his job due to mitigating factors in his personal life? Or did Old Dominion let Taylor go because of those mitigating factors themselves? (One local radio host says he heard exactly that.) ODU's presser today didn't point to anything specific, only stating that the players needed more "mentorship" and "leadership" and the school wouldn't comment further. Here's their official statement.