Only two weeks back, with Old Dominion careening toward maybe its worst season in the school’s 36-year Division I history, athletic director Wood Selig gave an allegedly firm vote of confidence to longtime coach Blaine Taylor.
“His coaching reputation is an impressive reputation,” Selig expounded. “This is just sadly one of those years even the good ones have.”
Selig apparently changed his mind. The day after Old Dominion lost its 10th straight game to fall to 2-20 this season, the 3rd-year athletic director announced at a news conference that Taylor has been fired and longtime assistant Jim Corrigan will serve as interim coach for the rest of the season.
The midseason firing comes as a surprise both because of Selig’s latest vote of confidence and due to Taylor’s success the previous 8 seasons.
Hired in 2000 to rebuild a program that fell under Jeff Capel, Taylor turned Old Dominion into a perennial CAA contender known for physical defense and dominant rebounding. The 12th-year coach won 20 or even more games 7 of the previous 8 seasons, reached the NCAA contest 4 times and made the round of 32 with a 1st-round upset of 6th-seeded Notre dame in 2010.
Considering that record and Taylor’s school-record 239 best-ever wins, it’s natural to ask whether something except for one uncharacteristically bad season could have played a role in his sudden dismissal.
Selig confirmed in his statement to reporters the firing was “not based entirely on losses and wins” but declined to supply specifics, only saying that players needed “mentorship, leadership and guidance” that Taylor was no longer providing.
No matter what the reason for Taylor’s firing, it appears unlikely it might be only a consequence of Old Dominion’s performance this season. It was no mystery the program was likely to struggle considering the talent lost from last year and the youth on this season’s line-up. Vegas odds
With all-conference wing Kent Bazemore and double-double threat Chris Cooper both gone, 7 newcomers to integrate and the program unsuited for the CAA tournament, the Monarchs were projected to finish in the middle of the CAA. Taylor’s best teams have been junior- and senior-laden, but this year’s injury-riddled muster includes 3 true freshmen who play significant minutes.
As a consequence, the Monarchs have fought in each area apart from offensive bouncing back, the longtime staple of Taylor’s program.
They’re 330th in the country in field goal percentage (38.7 percent) and 337th in 3-point shooting (27.5 percent), both areas where the Monarchs have historically struggled, albeit not to this extent. More incredibly, they are allowing opponents to shoot 46 percent from the field and allowing 1.08 points per possession, both among the worst in a CAA that’s as puny as it’s been in years.
Before the season commenced, Taylor was upbeat his team could surpass expectations.
“We’ve been in the NCAAs 4 times in the last 8 years, and all 4 times we would have gotten an at-large berth. Three times we won the contest and we didn’t need it. The other time we got that at-large. That gives the kids and maybe our fans a little confidence that if the right stuff happens, why not us.” Taylor asserted.