Yes, it is raining, but Over40 is right. I remember when Bill Foster left for Clemson and took his 3 straight 20-win seasons with him. Lee Rose came in and immediately took us to the NIT championship game (back when the NIT was still a prestigious post-season tourney) in his first season, beating NC State for the first time in the process.
After the 1977 Final Four run and another 20-win season after that, Rose left for Purdue. At that time, UNCC decided to stay in the “family” and hired Rose assistant Mike Pratt as the 49ers’ head coach. That proved to be of middling success. Not more 20-win seasons, Sun Belt championships, postseason, etc. After 4 years, Pratt was released.
Then AD Clyde Walker (who left the AD job at Kansas to return to his native NC) hired a successful DII coach from Florida Southern, Hal Wissel. That was the last time the words “successful” and “Wissel” were used together. After 3 seasons of “Wisselball” – culminating in a final season at 5-23 – UNCC cleaned house. Both Wissel and Walker were shown the door.
This time, UNCC took a different route in finding a coach. Instead of searching small colleges and assistant coach ranks, the Niners went out on a limb and hired an ACC hoops announcer who also ran a successful auto dealership in the Triangle. Yes, it did help that he had been an All-American in college, gold medal winning Olympian, and a championship ring-wearing NBA player. Thus the rebuilding under Jeff Mullins began.
Mullins made us respectable again and the 20-win seasons returned, as well as post-season. Still, all the Big Dances and NITs were one-and-dones. With the retirement of Mullins, UNCC again took a chance on “family” when it hired long-time 49er assistant and former player Melvin Watkins. Wat maintained the 20-win seasons, plus the first advancement by the Niners past the NCAA first round since the 1977 season.
Two seasons later, Texas A&M came calling (with mucho dinero!) and Wat left for College Station. Again, we stayed with “family” and hired Bobby Lutz to fill the vacancy. So, here we are, 7 seasons later. The 20-win seasons are still commonplace, as are the postseason appearances. Lately, though, the one-and-dones have become the norm again. In particular, the 2004-05 season that began with such promise, a top 25 ranking, etc., ended in a thud with one acceptable loss to Louisville and three inexplicable losses to the likes of Memphis, NC State, and South Florida.
So, here we are in limbo, awaiting a decision by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Hmmm, still looks like it’s raining to me…