Memo to Jim: Stay awhile

Joe Harrington

Dear Jim,

Jim, you’re a great coach, and Kent State’s men’s basketball team is lucky to have you. In fact, Jimbo, we’ve been lucky to have you since Stan (Heath) left for Arkansas six years ago (that turned out well for coach Stan, didn’t it?). We’ve been lucky to have your east coast bravado since you first won 20 games in a season. Or since the first time you took the team to the NCAA tournament. Or the first time you won the Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament.

Or have you duped us, coach? Are you just another guy who is using the Flashes to get a better job? Are you, coach Christian, just another person in Division I basketball that is constantly looking for the better job, like Bill Self? Remember Jimmy, the Kansas coach went from Oral Roberts to Tulsa to Illinois and finally, most likely his last job, Kansas, all from 1997 to 2003. That’s a fast climb.

My answer to those questions is no, Jim, I think you’re not.

But it seems like a spring semester tradition: A job opens at a smaller but, somehow, more important school than Kent State. The hiring school is in some crazy state, like Utah, and Kent State coach Jim Christian is listed as a high-ranking candidate. By the way, are you flattered when they mention your name on ESPN? I know I would be.

But you should be mentioned for all those jobs. After all, coach, you have a tremendous winning percentage. You have never won less then 20 games, and you consistently grab players out of no where to continue to win 20 games every season. Man, coach, did you really have no clue who MAC player of the year, junior guard Al Fisher, was before he came to campus?

But you know, coach, after Kent State lost to UNLV in the first round of the tournament last Thursday, I got the feeling that you had just hit the Babe Ruth signed-baseball over the fence and your life was over.

My only thought, coach, was it meant that you thought Providence was going to go after someone else. (A Cleveland TV station broke a story right after the brackets were announced that had you going there, but I wasn’t taking it seriously).

No, coach, I bet you were crushed because the best team you have put together had just lost in the first round. Coach, you were crushed because Mike Scott and Haminn Quaintance won’t be back next year, right? Not because of the Providence job or any other job, for that matter, wasn’t going to come after you.

But I’m sure bad teams with no coach will be calling to talk to OUR coach at some point. So here are 10 reasons why you should stay at Kent State, Jimmy C.

10. Ray’s. Ray’s is the place and it has lots of beer. If you want, coach, Ray’s will give you a lifetime supply of those awesome sweet potato fries.

9. Doug Martin. The Kent State football coach could use some pointers on consistency.

8. Where on Earth can you find black squirrels, Jimmy?

7. MAC referees. Two words: Jerry Sauder. Or, in other words, the bald ref who gets yelled at by fans. You have to have a soft spot for Jerry.

6. Gyro Bob. I’m going to guess that you have no clue who Gyro Bob is. But, Jimmy, I’m telling you, Gyro Bob is a saint. Coach Christian, if you’re the master of the motivational court-side foot stomp, well, Gyro Bob is the cultivator of meat sandwiches cooked in a trailer.

5. The Loft. Free peanuts.

4. If it’s good enough for Charlie Coles, it’s good enough for everyone. The Miami coach took the RedHawks to the Sweet 16. He stayed and is probably the most admired guy in the MAC. If you take a Big East job, do you think Jim Boehiem, John Thompson III and Ricky Pitino are going to admire you?

3. The M.A.C. Center. Coach, I bet you’re reading this and scratching that awesome hair and saying: How is that going to keep me? Well, it probably won’t and it’s probably not the best selling point, but hey, will anyone go undefeated at home in the Big East, Big Ten or Atlantic 10 for that matter?

2. Laing Kennedy. He loves you. He once ran out on the court and pumped the fans up after Akron and Kent State got into a fight. He’s on the NCAA selection committee.

1. The fans, and Super Fan. Talk about a gravy train with biscuit wheels. Fans only get annoyed with him when the team loses in the tournament. But from September to early March fans love having the great Jim Christian court side. Other jobs have raving lunatics for fans, like Kentucky or Arkansas. Think about it this way: If you won as many games as you did this year, plus the conference tournament, then lost in the first round, Kentucky fans would water board you.

At Kent State, fans are mad after a tournament loss, but they get over it faster than bigger schools because fans are happy when they make the NCAA tournament, and shocked when they win in the first round.

Plus, there’s Super Fan. You just won’t find that kind of spirit anywhere, coach.

So there you have it, coach Christian. You don’t need to go anywhere. Kent State is a “Christian Paradise.” Now, I know that you have no plans on leaving, and that’s a good thing. And don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the last guy to criticize a person for improving their career, but if it’s a bad job, like Duke Football or Nebraska Basketball, I wouldn’t take it.

Can’t wait to see you on the sidelines next season, big guy.

– Your buddy, Joe

Contact assistant sports editor Joe Harrington at [email protected].