Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Maybe Porter Moser gets one more year because every Sooner coach gets three bad seasons
Note: I know I’ve been beating this drum for a while, yet not nearly so much in the pages of The Norman Transcript, where I still appear each week with a Sunday column.
Given that, I couldn’t not try one more time to put Moser’s failings into context in front of still more readers and this is that column. It’s not like I don’t like the guy. Nor do I get a thrill out of writing negatively about coaches, players or teams. But as a columnist, it is sometimes called for, especially when so many others are happy to not view the topic critically.
The bottom line is Oklahoma men’s basketball, after about 50 years of winning (with short interruptions), should be so much better than it is right now; and while it’s one thing to really believe in your coach for good, tangible reasons, it’s another to stick with him when he’s offered no reasons whatsoever to believe he can turn things around and every reason to believe he’s plainly not equipped to ever turn things around.
Anyway, one more time, we make the case.
Because Porter Moser remains Oklahoma’s men’s basketball coach, we’re left to assume he’ll be in town for most of another year, at least.
There’s many reasons why he probably shouldn’t get another season, just as there’s many to presume, eventually, he’ll be what the Sooner offense was so many times, post intermission, at last November’s Bedlam football game:
Three and out.
Should anybody have a good reason to believe Moser’s tenure eventually reaches four seasons or beyond, I’m sure everybody’d love to hear it.
Because what appears to be the case is this:
Every Sooner coach this side of Howard Schnellenberger gets three years; or, perhaps more accurately, three bad years.
Via retirement, firing or resignation, that seems to be the rule inside Joe Castiglione’s Sooner athletic department.
John Blake received three years to run OU football into the ground, going 12-22 from 1996-98.
Lindsey Gray-Walton, after going 36-20 overall and 20-12 against Big 12 competition her first two seasons at the Sooner volleyball helm, resigned in December after going 29-44 and 12-34 her next three.
Prior to her tenure, after the last of several NCAA tourney appearances, the man she replaced, Santiago Restrepo, exited after his own three difficult seasons: 12-16 (6-9), 14-15 (5-11), 7-22 (4-12).
Matt Potter took Sooner soccer over before the 2012 campaign, coached it into the NCAA draw in 2014 and ’16, then promptly went 3-14-4 (1-5-3), 8-10-2 (3-5-1), 8-9-3 (3-5-1) and left.
The man who replaced him, Mark Carr, opened with two losing seasons, but just went 9-8-3 (3-5-1), stunningly reaching the Big 12 tourney championship game, and remains on the job.
Even the great and legendary Sherri Coale, after directing her program to 19 straight NCAA tourney appearances, called it a career after going 8-22 (4-14), 12-18 (5-13), 12-12 (9-9) from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
One coach not named Schnellenberger only got two rotten seasons.
That would be Jeff Capel, who with a hoops squad led by Wooden Award winner Blake Griffin guided the Sooners to the 2009 Elite Eight. He was then gone after going 13-18 (4-12) and 14-18 (5-11), but not because he was treated more shabbily than his Sooner coaching brethren.
Capel was also the guy who brought assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro to Norman, and Taliaferro was the guy whose recruiting misdeeds led OU to later forfeit each of its 2009-10 victories, while suffering additional probation to the probation already faced in the wake of Kelvin Sampson’s too-many-phone-call violations on his way out the door to Indiana.
So, barring putting a player’s life in danger via heat stroke and alleged forced dehydration (Schnellengerger) or bringing embarrassment and additional probation to the program (Capel), everybody gets three certifiably bad seasons.
I guess that’s all right.
But isn’t it funny that failing on a basic coaching level with no end in sight isn’t enough to get a quicker heave-ho?
Hey, it’s Clay. Though you get a lot of Oklahoma Columnist for free, the only way to get all of it is to contribute the grandly reasonable price of $6/month; less if you purchase a whole year. Please consider supporting this venture.
Because not only has Moser failed to get his roster to the NCAA tournament two straight seasons, going 12-24 in the conference and finishing dead last this one, he’s failed to keep his roster for three consecutive offseasons.
Perhaps not so unexpectedly, Moser put his first roster together, after several defections, via the transfer portal. Never mind that his women’s counterpart, Jennie Baranczyk, kept her squad together, let that one go.
Actually alarming, Moser suffered two huge and last-minute defections a year ago when Elijah Harkless and Umoja Gibson jumped into the portal.
Further alarming, Moser’s already suffered four portal departures since the season ended: Benny Schroeder, C.J. Noland, Bijan Cortes, Joe Bamisile.
Schroeder, from Munich, Germany, only appeared in six games, so who’s to know the level of the loss. But Nolan, Cortes and Bamisile can play … just not for Moser, an apparent confidence killer of the first order.
It’s not entirely clear if he can’t recruit talent or if he can recruit it but just not keep it because he won’t play the talent he has.
What’s clear is the way Moser wants his teams to play make it hard to recruit talent, hard to keep talent and hard for all of us to watch it.
Even Moser’s 2018 Final Four squad at Loyola-Chicago ranked 331st — of 351 Division I programs; there are now 353 — in pace, garnering only 67.4 possessions per game, and 349th in shot attempts, garnering 51.1.
And ever since, in Chicago and Norman, his teams have never ranked higher than 267th in pace (68.2 possessions, this season), nor 330th in attempts (53.3, this season), because Moser knows what he likes and it’s not very likable.
If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it must be in another tunnel.
But hey, it’s just two seasons.
He gets three.