by Daniel Olsen
(Image via Fox 13 News)
Tim Duryea was fired after his third season as the men’s head basketball coach for Utah State University. He compiled a losing record of 47-49 over that span. He failed to record any winning record in regular season conference play.
This might come as a shock to some after the Aggies surprised everyone and made it to the Mountain West tournament semifinals but even the upset over Boise couldn’t save Duryea. The Stew Morrill Aggies couldn’t bear a loss to Boise unless they were possibly watching the inferior Aggie football teams of the past. Stew Morrill made it to the NCAA tournament 8 times in his illustrious 17 year career. When he wasn’t going there he was going to other postseason tournaments 6 other years.
The reality is that Stew Morrill isn’t coming back. He is happily retired. However, the Utah State athletic department is searching for a coach who understands the program and has a successful track record of playing in the postseason. While there hasn’t been a lot of news yet on who the Aggies are talking to, there are plenty of speculations. Here is a short list:
1. The safe pick: Spencer Nelson
Although Spencer was a favorite Aggie basketball player he has no head coaching experience and little assistant coaching experience. He did play professionally in Europe so he’s best used as a recruiter and great assistant for now. Expect him to be used as a last resort if discussions with all other more qualified prospects don’t pan out.
2. The risky pick: Curtis Condie
Yes Condie has excelled as a coach on the high school level. Yes he coached current Aggie basketball star Koby McEwen. This is college however and we all saw what happened when a coach like Ty Detmer made a transition even as an assistant. This could either be a feel good story as Condie reunites with McEwen and elevated him to Aggie great status but it good also be a lot of what we’ve already seen: average season. It’s a risk worth looking into but the jury’s still out on whether the Aggies can commit to a guy with only high school experience.
3. The best pick: T.J Otzelberger
Sure he hasn’t won in the Big Dance but boy have his South Dakota State jackrabbits reached the “summit” of their league. They have won the last three Summit League conference tournaments and gave 5 seed Ohio State a scare in the first round of the NCAA tournament this week.
Perhaps he won’t take the Aggies to a national championship but he will take them as far as Stew or anyone can: the NCAA tournament. His record is 46-23 and it’s better to have double the amount of wins than the same ratio of wins to losses.
USU is the right place for Otzelberger. They should be able to easily offer him a raise over the $237,000 salary he currently has. It’s time to put Utah State back on the map. Hire Otzelberger.