In 13 seasons as the head coach at Northwestern University, an alleged Big Ten basketball program, Bill Carmody’s signature moment might’ve been getting hired in the first place. And that, presumably, is why the school fired him today. Cracker-box facilities, lack of tradition, and academic pressures notwithstanding, 13 seasons is a lifetime in major college basketball (if you can describe Northwestern as such) to top out with the following accomplishments:
— His team broke into the Top 25 in 2009-2010. It was ranked 25th. That was the first ranking for the Wildcats in 41 years. They also beat No. 6 Purdue that year.
— The 20-14 overall record that year was the first 20-win season in school history. The Wildcats matched it in 2010-11. Carmody’s teams posted five of the top seven wins totals in school history.
— He brought in two of the top players in program history with John Shurna and Michael Thompson.
If this is all you have to go on, at a certain point a coach will have to face the Bobs.
Now, Carmody was regarded as a good coach and a gentleman. The so-called Princeton offense he brought from the team that back-door-layuped its way past the defending national champions in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament and thus secured more Tournament victories than Northwestern had before the Carmody era and after, was a fit for Northwestern. Even in this season, torpedoed as it was by injuries, which was becoming a common refrain for the Wildcats, saw Northwestern rank 308th nationally in scoring per game … but 65th in assists. That’s a sign of players playing ineffectual basketball, but as a team, for what that may be worth.
Here's some Teddy Greenstein from the Chicago Tribune:
Carmody had two obvious flaws: He was an indifferent recruiter and could be awkward in meet-and-greets with alums.
One time a fan, unaware that Northwestern was the Big Ten’s third highest-scoring team in 2011, asked Carmody a long-winded question about whether the coach would speed up his offense to match the athleticism of JerShon Cobb and Drew Crawford.
Carmody’s response: “No.”
It also didn’t help recruiting that he was old-school, eschewing Facebook and Twitter.
But Carmody was a top-notch tactician, earning four straight NIT berths by using his Princeton offense to stymie teams with high school All-Americas.
After the depleted Wildcats played 10th-ranked Michigan State even for nearly 35 minutes March 10 in East Lansing, Spartans coach Tom Izzo told Carmody in the handshake line: “My God, I can’t believe how hard and well your guys played.”
Izzo added: “I love Bill Carmody. I think he is great for our league, a great coach in a tough basketball place. If his team could just stay injury-free …”
Carmody’s record at Northwestern was 192-210. His best finish in the Big Ten was a tie for fifth; he finished eighth or worse 10 times. He couldn’t get the program over the hump — the hump in this case being a single NCAA Tournament berth, or maybe an NIT final four, or a shock-the-world win of any kind. Northwestern’s a tough place to win but it was time to see if someone else could determine whether it will ever be thus.
Bill Carmody Out As Northwestern Basketball Coach [Chicago Tribune]