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Promise Unfulfilled at Stanford; ADs Reap Riches; Sad State of Affairs

Stanford finally pulled the plug on men's basketball coach Jerod Haase after eight disappointing seasons. The Cardinal never reached the NCAA Tournament during Haase's tenure, and finished in the top half of the Pac-12 only once.

He leaves with a total record of 126-127, one game under .500, which somehow seems appropriate. The Cardinal went 14-18 this season, finishing in a tie for 9th place in the conference with an 8-12 mark (after going 14-19, 7-12 last year). This was clearly a "down" year for the Pac-12, yet even with a talented group of experienced players, Haase couldn't make any headway.

His teams were characterized by stagnant offense, silly turnovers, an inability to win close games, and poor free throw shooting in clutch situations.

On the plus side, Haase's teams typically played tough defense and gave maximum effort. 

Moreover, he always conducted himself with class, and his players flourished in the classroom, as evidenced by five Pac-12 Scholar-Athletes of the Year and three Academic All-Americans.

Haase was also an excellent recruiter. He brought in a number of four and five-star players. Problem was, they never seemed to pan out, either under-performing, quickly turning pro, or transferring out.

Here's a breakdown of his top recruits:

Forward Ziaire Williams played one year at Stanford, was a part time starter and averaged 10.7 points per game. Williams was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft by the New Orleans Pelicans, then immediately traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. He's now in his third season with the Grizzlies, averaging about 8 points and 3 rebounds a game off the bench.

Forward KZ Okpala played two seasons at Stanford, averaging 16.8 points in his sophomore season. Okpala was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 32nd overall pick the 2019 NBA draft, then traded to the Miami Heat. He played parts of four seasons in the NBA, three with Miami and one with Sacramento, 98 games in all, never averaging more than 12 minutes and 3.7 points per game. He's now playing in Nigeria.

Point guard Tyrell Terry played one year at Stanford, averaging 14.8 points and 3.2 assists per game. Terry was selected 31st overall in the 2020 NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks. He spent one season with the team, shuttling between the G League and the NBA, playing in just 11 games before he was waived. He played briefly in two games the next year for the Memphis Grizzlies, before retiring from professional basketball due to mental health issues.

Guard Cormac Ryan played one year at Stanford, averaging 8.7 points per game. He transferred to Notre Dame and played three years with the Fighting Irish, averaging 10, 9 and 12 points per game. This year, he is using his COVID year to play for North Carolina and is averaging 11.5 points for the Tar Heels.

Forward Harrison Ingram played two years at Stanford, averaging 10.5 points and 6 rebounds each season. He transferred to North Carolina and has blossomed as a Tar Heel, averaging 12.5 points and 9.3 rebounds this season and being named All-ACC Third Team, which is a significant accomplishment since the league names only 5 players to each of its all-star teams, meaning that Ingram is considered one of the best 15 players in the ACC.

This year's two 4 or 5 star recruits (depending on which service you believe) fell short of expectations but had a few moments of brilliance. Point guard Kanaan Carlyle averaged 11.5 points per game but shot only 37% from the field, had more turnovers than assists and ceded much of the playing time to walk-on Benny Gealer in the latter stages of the season. Forward Andrej Stojakovich showed some promise as a rebounder and scorer, averaging 7.8 points and 3.8 boards per game. 

One wonders if they'll stick around next season.

The Future: Which brings up the obvious question, where does Stanford Athletic Director Bernard Muir go from here? 

Muir should've let Haase go a year ago (some might argue, three years ago), which would've enabled him to land Stanford icon Mark Madsen, who has orchestrated a nice turnaround in his first year as head coach of the Cal Bears. But Madsen is now blue and gold, through and through, recently signing an extension that will keep him in Berkeley through 2029-30.

My first call would be to WSU coach Kyle Smith, the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, who's done a terrific job in difficult circumstances in Pullman. He'll be occupied with the NCAA Tourney for at least another week--his Cougars finished 24-9 and landed a No. 7 seed--but he's worth waiting for. 

I think Smith will be interested because of Stanford's stature and the uncertainty over WSU's future in the Pac-2. He's also very familiar with the Bay Area, having served as an assistant at St. Mary's for nine years and head coach at USF for three. And he's familiar with academic institutions, having coached Columbia for six seasons.

If Smith takes a pass, my next call would be to Mike Montgomery, to seek his guidance on who might be a good choice for Stanford. In fact, I might call Montgomery first to get his recommendations. He has a pretty fair idea of what it takes to win at Stanford, having reached the NCAA Tourney 10 straight times, including a Final Four, an Elite Eight and three different seasons when his teams were ranked No. 1 in the country.

Loyalty, Anyone? Four months ago, Nebraska gave Athletic Director Trev Alberts, a former star linebacker at the school, a contract extension through 2030 that would've paid him $1.7 million for the next two years and $2.1 million starting in 2026. At the time, Alberts said "I love this place. I love the state of Nebraska. I don't want to be anywhere else."

Well on Thursday Alberts found a place he loved even more. He left his alma mater-- the school where he'd just been given a very lucrative extension--in the dust for Texas A&M, where he'll replace Ross Bjork, who had just bolted out the door to Ohio State. 

Bjork, as we noted in a post last month, somehow was attractive to the folks in Columbus after giving head football coach Jimbo Fisher a fully-guaranteed $95 million, 10-year contract, then firing him last fall, owing the largest buyout in college sports history, a mere $77M.

But we digress. Alberts, despite his professed love for Nebraska, apparently loves money even more.

Alberts' new five-year agreement reportedly will make him one of the 10 highest paid ADs in the country, presumably at well over $2M per year. He owes Nebraska $4.1 million for leaving before the end of 2024, which presumably will also be paid by A&M.

Sad State of Affairs: With all the job-changing, money-grubbing examples being set by athletic directors and coaches around the country, is it any wonder that the players--whose efforts actually bring in the revenues that fund those astronomical salaries--want to share in these riches and have the freedom to transfer freely?

You can't blame them, but unfortunately, thanks to the irrelevant and powerless NCAA, things have quickly and completely gotten out of hand. Everything now is driven by money, greed, and power.

The past few years have seen a whirlwind of changes--all of them negative--in college athletics. Consider:

-- players can now transfer from one school to another as many times as they like, without having to sit out a year; as a result, many quarterbacks and basketball stars play for three or four different schools during their college careers

-- players (I no longer call them "student-athletes") are routinely being paid $100,000 or more in NIL dollars to play football ands basketball; some quarterbacks are making seven figures

-- there are no rules governing NIL compensation, thanks to the NCAA's incompetence and a litany of legal losses, so the first question asked by most high school recruits and transfer portal prospects is "how much are you gonna pay me?"

-- traditional and regional rivalries have been cast aside as schools change leagues in search of TV dollars

-- the Pac-12 Conference, a 108-year old league that produced some of the greatest teams and best athletes in college sports history, is dead and gone, done in by the slings and arrows of television and two incompetent commissioners

-- Stanford and Cal have relocated to the Atlantic Coast Conference, a league based 3000 miles away

-- USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington are now in the Big Ten and will play league games next year in New Jersey and Maryland

-- The Big Ten and SEC are running roughshod over college football, based on their own self-interest, rather than the best interests of the sport

Academics, rivalries, tradition, and integrity are forgotten, all relics of a bygone era.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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