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Jeff Eisenberg

Credit Clemson for making a sensible if not splashy hire

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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In an offseason that has featured a handful of blatantly mismanaged coaching searches, let's congratulate Clemson for getting it right.

Only a week ago, Oliver Purnell surprised the Tigers when he bolted for a DePaul job that he hadn't even been linked with previously. Nonetheless, Clemson responded swiftly and intelligently, quickly cobbling together a list of logical candidates, taking a run at Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury and then snapping up Wright State's up-and-coming Brad Brownell when Stansbury decided to stay put.

The efforts of Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips might not seem especially unusual in other years, but consider the struggles of his counterparts at other similar jobs.

DePaul knew for months that it would need a new coach, yet the Blue Demons badly bungled their search from the start, targeting unattainables like Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon while other programs swooped in on candidates who might have been interested.

St. John's followed a similar pattern, wasting several weeks on misguided overtures to Billy Donovan, Paul Hewitt and Seth Greenberg before hiring Steve Lavin despite his lack of East Coast recruiting acumen.

And then there's Oregon, somehow still without a coach despite more money and better resources than schools like Clemson. The Ducks may yet land the big-name coach that Phil Knight craves, but each time a Tom Izzo, Jamie Dixon or Tubby Smith turns them down, the program's prestige takes a hit in the mind of media members, fans and most importantly recruits.

Brownell may not be the splashiest hire Clemson could have made, but his track record is unquestionably solid. He's 84-45 in four seasons at Wright State. He's won 20 games in six of eight seasons since becoming a head coach. He actually was the next pick at Indiana two years ago if Tom Crean hadn’t accepted the Hoosiers job.

Brownell received an significant endorsement Tuesday from a fellow graduate of DePauw University, a man who has coached against him in the Horizon League the past few years.

"Brad Brownell is an unbelievable coach," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "He has been a winner everywhere he has been. I am happy to see Brad go to a great school and a great program like Clemson."

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