The deal we made with Huse

In early February I started to see the typical throw the baby out with the bath water comments on Bobcatnation.com in regards to the Bobcat men’s basketball program. These comments changed to the positive, when we defeated the Griz in late February. When the Bobcats, though, lost in the first round of the conference the negative comments, of course came back, some even calling for Huse to be fired.

Let’s make this completely clear right off the bat Huse is not going any where any time soon. He has the full support of Fields, strong support from booster, and most importantly he is on the first year of a three year contract and given the budget concerns at MSU (and the rest of the State for that matter) there is no way short of a Kramer like program melt down he will be let go from his position.

I am not against criticism of a coach by any means if it is constructive and not simply mean spirited drivel. I do, though, take exception to the calling for a coaches job during the season. In a future article I am going to address what I think the hits and misses of Huse’s 4 years here, but that is not what I want to talk amount here today.

What I want to talk about is the deal we made with Huse. While I will mainly be talking about Huse here, the same deal was made with women’s basketball coach Tricia Binford and even football coach Rob Ash.

When we hired Huse we were just coming off a horrendous year in Bobcat athletics. While not limited to just the basketball program, this program was reeling from a couple scandals which was hurting not only the program but the University as well. Academically, the basketball program had a 680 APR, We also had one of the star basketball players accused (later convicted) of murder. To top things off there were other basketball other player rumored to be involved in drugs (later proved false) and even ghosts of past players indiscretions.

In this atmosphere we as Bobcat supports, alumni and fans demanded change, in how we ran our athletic programs. Athletic Director Peter Fields agreed whole heartily. Fields implemented, with our full support, new recruiting guidelines / restrictions on top our already tough entrance requirements for athletes. With the goal, of upgrading, the type of athletes that will represent MSU on the field and in the community.

Now historically both Montana and Montana State have had the toughest academic admissions requirements of all of the Big Sky schools, which has limited the athletes the schools could recruit. There were quite simply prospects out there that other BSC teams could recruit that we could not. With the new restriction, though, Montana State now has the toughest entrance requirements of any Big Sky schools. It also explains why most of our recruiting competition comes from the Service academies and Ivey league type schools.

Here are a few restrictions that I have heard were implemented.

  • – Transcript Check- Players and transcripts are checked out thoroughly not only for grades but also “character issues”. Any thing that raises questions can be red flagged.
  • – Restrictions on recruiting players until they have received a passing ACT/SAT. Most schools will recruit a kid with good grades and assume that when he takes the ACT/SAT will get a passing grade.
  • – Transfer players- For all incoming transfer players, usually JC’s, the coaches have to put together an academic plan that will show/prove that that player can graduate from MSU, with in his remaining eligibility. – Typically a JC player needs another year (5th) to graduate after transferring at most schools.
  • -All recruited players must graduate. The Administration and coaches have gone to great lengths and cost to help students get their degree after they are done playing- even if they leave on their own.
  • -The Athletic Department will review the above and if red flags are found by the administration, those players un-recruitable by the coaching staff.

Brad knew coming in that rebuilding Montana State basketball was not going to be a walk in the park, some very tough restrictions were going to be implemented on who he brought in. In return, though, he was promised by the administration, that he would have the time to build the program the right way.

Peter Fields and the rest of the Administration recognized the progress the program was making, and they reward it with a new three year contract last summer.

I bring this up now because I have brought it up before, on my blog and on Bobcatnation. I have detailed in great length the difficulties out lined above and almost to a person the overwhelming sentiment was, this is the route we want to take. We do not want to take short cuts we want to build this program the right way. To which every time I have answered fine, but then we need to give Brad time.

In my opinion, right now MSU does not have the talent level that Weber, Montana, N. Colorado or even Portland State has. Yes we do have some players like Bobby Howard and Eric Rush who are all conference level, but we simply do not have the depth from top to bottom that most of the teams in our league has. The talent level can be laid at Huse’s feet, as long as you recognize the restrictions. The talent level has though improved every year, and looks to make a major step up next year as this years recruiting class though looks to be by far the best class ever for Huse. I am a firm believe in talent, coaching can only get you so far in league, the coaches know each other to well in the end superior talent bring consistency and eventually championships.

That said, though is what Huse has accomplished in his 4 year. Huse just finished with his best regular and conference record to date. He has lifted the Bobcat’s men’s APR from 690 to 985 (as close to perfect as you are going to see) and dug the program out of an APR probation nightmare. He has gradated close to all (if not all) of his athletes. His team and coaches are very involved in many community events and programs. He has also brought accountability to the program and its players. Huse is a taskmaster, not the easiest guy to play for but he does push to get the most out guys.

It seems to me that Brad is fulfilling his part of the bargain so far. Yes I personally do wish that we would have won a few more games here and there, but everyone in this program is working their butts off to make this program into the cream of the Big Sky crop and significant progress has been made. Brad is here for another two years at a minimum and I guess longer. Naysayers get used to. It does nothing but hurt MSU basketball to start calling for his head at this point. I think it is time we remember what our part of this bargain was, and give him the time and support he needs to build this program the right way. We made a deal with Huse. The Administration fulfilled its part. The fans need to fulfill their part of the deal.

Consider this an addendum of players/recruits Brad and his coaches were recruiting but were rejected by the MSU administration. It is just the 4 player that come to mind off the top of my head.

Anthony Johnson -UM (could not graduate in two years)
Damian Lillard -Weber
Ceylon Elgin-Taylor – UM (Character issue)
Kenny Daniels – Northridge (actually committed to MSU rejected for transcript and could not graduate in two years. Followed Sprinkle to CSNU that spring. 2 year starter 16 points a game)


5 Responses to “The deal we made with Huse”

    March 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    mslacat: the voice of reason, as always.

  2. 2 Bob Morrison
    March 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Great post Mslacat. I agree with everything you wrote. Brad is doing a very good job given the restrictions. It will take longer, but the program and kids he has recruited all represent MSU with class. Far from dominant yet, but they are also competitive in all games with a lot less talent. When he can slowly upgrade the talent level (next year’s class on paper looks very good), he will build a strong program at MSU.

  3. March 10, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    As a die-hard Cats fan, I’m happy with the job Huse is doing. The next class is looking good and, hey, we’ve beaten the Griz three in a row. When is the last time that happened? Besides all that – if Huse had come in and immediately won 20 or more games a season, he’d be gone by now. He’s a keeper and I hope we can keep him around awhile.

  4. 4 MSU01
    March 10, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Great post – while the team may not have made quite the dramatic leap forward on the court that many expected with Huse’s hiring, the off-the-court improvements are remarkable. Huse, the team, other coaches, and the entire Athletic Dept. staff should be commended for turning things around so quickly. As frustrating as the end of this season was, there is absolutely no reason to let Huse go at this point.

    • 5 CITYGRIZ
      March 12, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      mslacat: the voice of reason, as always

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