Will Northwestern fire Bill Carmody?

USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern has a decision to make after another season without an NCAA Tournament bid. Will they fire Bill Carmody, the most successful coach in program history, after 13 years?

Northwestern's season ended last night with a loss in the Big Ten Tournament to Iowa. In Bill Carmody's 13th season at Northwestern, his team went 13-19, 4-14 in Big Ten play, with 12 of those losses by 10 points or more. And for a 13th consecutive season, his team did not make the NCAA Tournament.

The question on my mind right now is not whether it's right or wrong to fire Bill Carmody. This is Northwestern basketball. It's an uphill battle whoever is in charge. I think we can all agree that Bill Carmody has done a very strong job the last few seasons, bringing the program to unprecedented heights - four straight NIT appearances, more than doubling the amount of postseason appearances in school history, several years where the team was one win away from its first NCAA Tournament. He's a talented coach and all things considered, a good fit for Northwestern. And surely, it would be unfair if Carmody's last season featured a injury-depleted squad that didn't have a chance and lost its final nine games.

I think we can also all agree it hasn't been good enough. Still, no tourney trips. My point is, both firing and not firing Bill Carmody are both decisions laden with lots of implications, and neither is crazy. We could argue this all day, and solve little besides calling each other names.

So the question I'm curious about is: will Northwestern fire Bill Carmody? After 13 seasons, all of which had more or less the same outcome, will the Northwestern administration finally push the button?

Right now, the answer appears to be yes.

The vultures are really circling after the loss last night. Carmody's press conference after the loss was downright macabre, focusing less on the details of the loss - hey, how come your team gave up 11 straight points to start the game, why couldn't you grab a rebound - and more on his job status. And that gave way to some articles, many written as if Carmody is done. From USA Today's Mike Lopresti:

He had just endured the post-loss press conference, with all the is-your-goose-cooked questions. Inquiries reserved each spring for the coaching condemned. He had politely answered them all in a soft voice, but it had to hurt. After that, there was nothing to do but go home. The season was over.

"I don't want to say it's part of the business, but I understand that was going to happen,'' he said in the hallway. "Not much you can do about it.''

From Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago:

Northwestern, the Charlie Brown of Big Ten basketball, ended its season Thursday night in the Big Ten tournament with a 73-59 loss. Carmody will almost surely be fired after a particularly miserable season.

If he's not, it'll be a shock. You can't find a person who believes he will be back for the final year of his contract. Carmody wouldn't directly address it Thursday after the loss, but he knows there's no Princeton defense for this situation.

Loretta8 and I had a chat about this last night, and here's what we had to say, if you're interested in reading what too people who care way, way too much about this team think.

Loretta8: I'd be very surprised if they keep him
didn't they come close to firing him last year?
11:21 PM me: The word is Jim Phillips spent a while thinking about it. A few days.
11:22 PM Loretta8: in a semi-related note
those quotes Jaren Sina's father
bizarre
11:25 PM me: I think Jim Phillips would be pretty silly if he leveraged the future of the team in any way over a modestly well-regarded high school basketball player
Loretta8: yeah
11:26 PM also there's some speculation about crawford potentially leaving under the graduate transfer rule
me: nah.
don't see it.
Loretta8: i think if it does happen
would be a pretty huge strike against whomever they hire
because if he can't sell a guy who seems to like northwestern a lot on staying
11:27 PM hes probably not gonna sell many good recruits on coming
me: I think that's a worst-case scenario
Loretta8: yeah then we're in a penn state like rebuilding project
11:28 PM me: Firing Carmody gives you the potential for stuff like that happening. The bottom line is definitely lower.
11:32 PM Loretta8: thing about firing carmody
is you probably shouldn't do it
unless you have a decent idea of who to hire instead
but its kinda hard to find out if such candidates are interested in the job
without that potentially leaking
and then you basically have to fire him
11:33 PM although i guess the northwestern media doesnt scrutinize these things that closely
11:35 PM me: so you'd be surprised if Carmody comes back. So do you think there's nothing to the argument with regards to injuries making this excusable in the eyes of the administration?
11:36 PM Loretta8: i kinda think they're looking for a reasonable excuse to fire him
i base that on very little
11:37 PM but its hard to fire a coach after a season thats among the best in school history
no matter how bad that history is
and even though they are obviously much better with an average number of injuries
the record is terrible
its enough of an excuse
11:38 PM me: You also wrote a while back about coaching decisions and bad luck a few weeks back... when you look at the margins of defeat, this team was worse than the record
11:39 PM Northwestern really only lost two "close" games this year. vs. UIC and Stanford.
11:41 PM So you took away the team's best player - which had happened, by the way, before - and this team was average. I think before Swop drops, this team was on track to win 7, maybe 8 games
Swop disappears, that's a team that looked like it could've gone 0-18.
11:42 PM Loretta8: amazing in retrospect how important he was
11:43 PM me: So why no "one more year", you think?
Loretta8: "one more year" is such a copout
me: It seems like it's been one more year, for, like three years.
This year was the one more year, right?
Loretta8: yeah
but i think this was the first one
11:44 PM there wasn't much talk about firing him after the first NIT appearance
then after the 2nd one, they were getting coble back and losing just jeremy nash
so not much firing talk
then in the middle of the next season they gave him a 2 year extension
11:45 PM so i think this was the one more year
and it didnt happen
me: not. even. close.
Loretta8: you could make a case to give him a mulligan based on the injuries
but even with zero injuries
11:46 PM this team was an underdog to make the tournament
me: And I think it's tough to act like firing Carmody makes next year easier. It will almost definitely make it worse
11:47 PM Bring in a guy with a new system, maybe lose a recruit. But if you're firing Carmody you're acknowledging that things aren't going right and something needs to be different, which could help things go right in the future
Loretta8: yeah
11:48 PM i just hope if they do decide to move on
phillips knows what he's doing with the hiring process
11:52 PM me: Maybe it's just me, but it seems like whatever happens has, like, an 80 percent chance of going wrong
11:53 PM Loretta8: whos the worst coach they could conceivably hire instead?
thats actually a dumb question since it would be someone none of us have heard of
11:54 PM me: Kevin O'Neill's twin brother, WaKevin O'Neill
Loretta8: hahahahaha
me: I could see Northwestern making a "good" hire and it not working out, though.
11:55 PM If you think about it, Bill Carmody wasn't that great a hire way back when. It just so happened they managed to keep him around long enough he got some recruiters around him
Loretta8: yeah
11:56 PM i cant tell you how excited i was about the carmody hire
his princeton teams were dominant
seemed like a perfect fit
team made huge improvements the first two years
11:57 PM me: Do you think this team can make the tourney next year? Carmody or not?
I think the argument next year is his "best team ever" is a little, uh, strong
Loretta8: yeah sina would have to be the next trey burke
for it to be his best team ever
that being said
11:58 PM theres quite a bit of variance in these things
doesnt have to be his best team to sneak out some close wins
11:59 PM but no, i certainly wouldn't bet on next year's roster making the tournament
me: That doesn't necessarily make firing Carmody "right"
12:00 AM Loretta8: agreed
12:04 AM me: Now's not an awful time to start rebuilding, though. Crawford is NU's only senior next year, and although he's great, there's more youth than experience
12:08 AM Loretta8: indeed

And now? We sit and wait, as Jim Phillips and Bill Carmody come to their decision.

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