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Sunday, April 6,2014

It’s hard to blame Ohio men's coach for taking job in Boston

By Steve Uhlmann
Photo Credits: File photo.
Photo Caption: Ohio men's basketball head coach Jim Christian

Change is inevitable in sports, especially if you are a successful mid-major program like the Ohio Bobcats are.

But just about every Bobcat fan was shocked when news surfaced last week that men's basketball coach Jim Christian was being pursued by Boston College. It was even more surreal when the move was made official on Thursday.

Christian accepted the job exactly two years after he was introduced by Ohio Athletics Director Jim Schaus as the head coach of the Bobcats, making his time in Athens the second shortest tenure of a men's basketball coach in OU history.

One would immediately conclude from Christian's short tenure here that he's another carpetbagger and just using Ohio to find a bigger job.

Though coaches being less than forthcoming when it comes to these matters is commonplace in college athletics these days, it just isn't true when it comes to Christian.

When he was introduced as the head coach of the Eagles, he made it clear: He didn't actively seek to leave Athens. Boston College came to him.

While the Eagles faithful were a bit puzzled when BC hired Christian, no doubt about it; they are getting a good coach. Whether Bobcats fans want to admit it or not, he did a decent job at Ohio, especially this season when he got 25 wins out of a team that was on the brink of coming unglued due to injury.

He also cared about every player on his team. Christian met with the media on Monday, just hours before the Boston College rumors surfaced. When he delivered the news that freshman D.J. Wingfield's career was coming to an end due to a knee injury, Christian's tone said it all. Wingfield didn't play a single game during his time with Ohio, but Christian treated the situation as if the team was losing a four-year starter.

That's a coach who cares.

Some feel that Christian is leaving a stable Ohio job for a hopeless situation in Boston. It's true that Boston College has been irrelevant for the last decade, but if there's one coach who's eager for a challenge, it's Jim Christian.

"Any coach wants to have his chance to compete against the very best," Christian said. "Obviously, the ACC is the very best."

He will now get his chance to coach against greats such as Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino and Mike Krzyzewski while trying to rebuild a once-proud program. That, plus the higher salary and resources that he could only dreamed of having while at Ohio made the move a no-brainer.

Christian leaves Ohio with some fans wanting more. His teams only made the NIT and CIT despite successful regular seasons. Certainly, there were little things here or there that could have made a difference, but he poured his heart into the program during his brief time here.

While Christian didn't accomplish everything he wanted to as head coach of the Bobcats, it wasn't because he didn't care.

Meanwhile, Ohio quickly found a replacement, North Dakota State University head coach Saul Phillips. The announcement came in an email from OU Athletics Media Relations at 1:31 a.m. Sunday. (See related story.)


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"One would immediately conclude from Christian's short tenure here that he's another carpetbagger and just using Ohio to find a bigger job".

Umm, thats college coaching at any level. Unless you are coaching Duke, NC, Kentucky, etc... every other job is likely just the next step up the coaching ladder until they retire or can't go higher. The guy from North Dakota, you think that was his dream job, or that OU will be? Nope, he's just moving up that ladder as well.