As its coaching search neared the three-week point Monday afternoon, Charleston appeared to finally be on the verge of naming Doug Wojcik's successor.
The Cougars reportedly had narrowed their search to two finalists: longtime Wofford coach Mike Young and ex-Charleston star and NBA journeyman Anthony Johnson.
Then the unthinkable happened two days later. Young removed his name from consideration first, Johnson did the same soon afterward, and suddenly one of the nation's better mid-major programs embarrassingly is starting from scratch in its coaching search even as the calendar nears September.
Said Young via a statement: "After going through this and being respectful of the process, it became clear that Wofford is where I needed to be at this time. My team came back to campus today and they deserve and always will have my complete energy and attention."
Said Johnson via a statement: "My decision was one outside of basketball and outside of the College of Charleston and is in no way a reflection of the search process, nor of the support given to me by the administration. I'm sorry that my announcement came at such a crucial time, but I will always be a Cougar and will always support my College of Charleston."
Regardless of the reason for Young and Johnson backing out of the search, their decisions leave Charleston in a precarious spot.
First and foremost, not having a coach in place on August 26 projects an aura of instability to potential recruits and makes it next-to-impossible for the Cougars to compete for prospects in the Class of 2015. Perhaps the new coach might have some preexisting relationships that can help him salvage the class, but at the very least Charleston will be well behind its peers in the recruiting process whenever it hires a coach.
Secondly, there's the little matter of this season. Even if Charleston hired a coach by the end of the week — definitely no certainty at this point — he'd have barely a month to forge relationships with his new players before the start of preseason practice.
Charleston is in this predicament because it chose to fire Wojcik after allegations surfaced that he had mistreated players. The decision to cut ties with Wojcik was perfectly reasonable, but considering how long that process dragged on, it should have given school administrators ample time to plot their next move and figure out who their next coach would be.
Instead the search has dragged on. And now it may be headed back to the starting blocks.
CBSSports.com reported that the other candidates who interviewed with Charleston are Clemson assistant Earl Grant, UConn assistant Karl Hobbs, N.C. State assistant Bobby Lutz and Virginia assistant Ritchie McKay.
Maybe the school will reconsider and hire one of them. Maybe it will go in a new direction. But considering Charleston's scenic location and winning tradition, there's no excuse for the Cougars having this much trouble finding someone to take what should be a very attractive mid-major gig.
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