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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cinderella Coach Cops Out On Coast Crew

The Cinderella story of Florida Gulf Coast University's Men's Basketball team from the 2013 March Madness has been heard by sports fan everywhere. If you missed the big news, here are the highlights:
  • The FGCU Eagles rearched the "Big Dance" in just their 3rd year as a D-I program
  • As the #15 seed, FGCU upset #2 Georgetown in the Round of 64, 78-68
  • #7 San Diego State fell in the Round of 32 to the Eagles by 10 points
  • Their 2nd win made FGCU the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen in tournament history
  • The Eagles were defeated by their fellow Floridians, the Gators (U of F) in the Sweet Sixteen
  • The team became lovingly known as "Dunk City" with their acrobatic lobs and alley-oops
March Madness' complete coverage gave this unknown team instant fame after its first win. From there, the team's notoriety grew rapidly and the underdogs soon became the fan favorites. Despite their loss to #3 Florida, FGCU's team ended an amazing season with high spirits and high hopes for the next year. The Eagles were looking ahead to a year that would include a better recruiting class and a team that would lose only one senior while likely returning one junior and three sophomore starters. FGCU could have turned their program into one of the perennial mid-major contenders.

Alas, the head directs the body and FGCU's head (coach), Andy Enfield, was signed by USC's Men's Basketball program just 3 days after their tournament exit. If Kentucky's leader John Calipari were to announce he was leaving the program, the nation's #1 recruiting class would likely have some student-athletes skipping towns to head to Duke, Indiana, or Michigan. Unfortunately, much of the momentum the Eagles had built with their historic run could be cut off before it really gets rolling with the loss of their coach.

Sources say that Enfield's annual salary could increase from $157,000 to over a million because of the move. But I dare say that fans, parents, and Enfield's former players will ask the question, "Was it worth it?" In a society where commitment and loyalty suffer, it would have been nice to see the "Little Guy" stick to his guns and try to turn FGCU's program into a legitimate threat on a regular basis. Although the university's athletic department press release appears to be amicable, there is still a sense of regret and dissatisfaction.

- Isaac M. Comelli (4/2/2013)

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