Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday, Boston College named Jim Christian its 12th Head Basketball Coach in program history. Coach Christian comes to BC via THE Ohio University as the MAC Conference’s all-time winningest coach at 186-80 (.706). The hire has been met with mixed reactions by analysts and BC fans alike. But regardless of anyone’s Monday Morning Athletic Director, Jim Christian will be BC’s basketball coach for the foreseeable future. Our editor, Joe Micik, had a bit more of a harsher, editorialized take earlier this morning (which I agreed with whole heartily). But I’m going to try (try being the operative word of this sentence) to take a bit more of an objective, biographical approach in the last (for now) installment of “Better Know A BC Coach?” Onto the tape…
Why Was He Available?:
Christian has spent the last 2 seasons at Ohio, taking them to the NIT and CIT tournament (hey, more than we can say for BC in recent years!). Although his time at Kent State and Ohio has been successful, Christian is looking to make a splash on a national level, trying his luck at a big conference school. While BC has not been the most attractive job opening this year, it warms my cold, small heart that we are still a more appealing job than a MAC power house.
Why Did BC hire him?:
According to Athletic Director Brad Bates, 3 reasons:
"“Jim Christian brings three remarkable traits to Boston College basketball,” Bates said. “First, he sincerely cares about his student-athletes and will be a catalyst for their development as basketball players, scholars, servers and leaders, while creating a family culture that brings pride to the BC community. Second, his energy is contagious and his passion inspiring, which will resonate throughout our program. Finally, he is a proven winner with an outstanding winning percentage and three conference championships. We are very excited to have Jim Christian leading Boston College basketball, and look forward to an extraordinary future.”"
Bates has a long history with Christian, having been the Athletic Director at MAC rival Miami of Ohio during Christian’s time at Kent State. Bates seems to feel comfortable hiring someone he has seen up close and personal. He is unproven coaching at a school in a power conference, but his winning percentage speaks for itself. It is Bates’ goal to surround Christian with assistants that have both a local and national recruiting pedigree that will compliment Christian’s firey coaching style yet compensate for his lack of New England area ties.
Why Should We Be Skeptical?:
Like Donahue, he has close to no experience recruiting or coaching for a power conference school, sans 3 less than stellar years for Pitt in the late 90s. Although he is the MAC’s winningest coach, he inherited teams that were already very good (for MAC standards). His Kent State team went to the Elite Eight the year before he took over and Ohio went to their first Sweet Sixteen since 1964 in John Groce’s final year prior to Christian taking over. His postseason success has been limited, having yet to win his first NIT or NCAA game as head coach. Given how long the coaching search took, it is not crazy to believe that Christian was not BC’s first choice. I think it’s too early to call him a “panic hire” but it just seems weird that Bates would fire Donahue, a firey intelligent, committed coach who could not adapt to big time basketball, and replace him with Christian who displays those same qualities.
What Should BC Fans Expect?:
Honestly, not much. If Christian is a dud and Addazio shows any regression in Year 2 and Year 3, I think Bates’ term as Athletic Director will be short lived. He has built up some real good will among the fans with Addazio’s hiring and the firings of Spaz and Donahue. But our basketball team is on life support, and we needed a program savior. Christian, no pun intended, does not strike me as a savior, but rather a place holder. Someone who has benefited from coaching good teams in bad conferences. It would be impossible to fail as bad as Donahue did, but if that is our measuring stick for success, why should we even care anymore?
Regardless, Bates believes that he can be the catalyst behind a winning culture. His resume does not jump off the page like some of the other candidates but I would hope our Athletic Director is more adept at hiring a basketball coach than I am. Welcome to the Heights, Coach Christian. Let’s see what you can do.