DePaul Blue Demons Coach Oliver Purnell has to be Fired

By Joseph Nardone
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago is a glorious city that is considered one of the largest television markets in the country. It also features some of the most loyal, rabid fans that any team could ask for. However, the city’s teams leave much to be desired for their fans. Whether it be the historically impotence of the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Bulls, to a much lesser degree than the Cubs, being slightly hungover in the post Michael Jordan era, and then there is the atrocity that is the DePaul Blue Demon basketball program.

Believe it or not, DePaul was once a proud basketball program that the city and fans adored. Now, thanks to a slew of horrible decisions by the athletic department, the program is now shunned by their city and the fans feel indifferent for. Oddly enough, it is those fans and that city which should still make the DePaul program a destination spot for future head coaches.

In a somewhat strange twist of fate, current head coach Oliver Purnell found his way to the Blue Demon program in 2010. Purnell previously had a long record of success at Old Dominion, the Dayton Flyers, and Clemson Tigers before making his way to the windy city. The former NBA player seemed like a good fit at the time. Successful tenures at every stop would make one think that it’s written in stone that he could do it anywhere. However, DePaul isn’t anywhere, it’s Chicago.

Purnell isn’t old (59, 56 at the time of his hiring), so one would have to wonder why he became an ineffective coach all of a sudden. It’s not like Purnell is in the twilight of his coaching career, he shouldn’t have given up trying to be great this early in his DePaul tenure.

This season’s version of the Blue Demons does have some talent on it, headlined by Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young. So how can a team that has two very productive players be as bad as they currently are? Simply put, the coaching. A college coach has complete control over his players. There is no trading, releasing, or signing free agents in college hoops. It’s Purnell’s system that the Blue Demons are running and running in a manner which better resembles high school hoops.

Purnell hasn’t lured in top-tier prospects in his time at DePaul either, in fact he loses them. The Blue Demons actually had Shane Larkin ready to suit up for them, only to abandon the program to head to the Miami Hurricanes. When in the history of mankind did the Miami program become a more viable option for recruits than DePaul? Oh, when players realized they would much rather play for more competent coaches than Purnell.

Purnell couldn’t have possibly been this bad this whole time, the guy won at every other place he has been. Somehow, in a bigger stage, Purnell has become a much worse hardwood general and his recruiting skills are comparable to a obese man trying to lure kids into a white van using a Brussels sprout.

In his three years with the program Purnell has amassed an awful 5-38 record in Big East Conference play, with a 29-52 overall record. I don’t care if you’re the head coach of the Club St. Pool Cleaners, that kind of record justifies being fired anywhere. It is now up to the DePaul athletic department on whether or not they actually want to be a good program again.

With the Catholic Seven leaving the conference to start a brand new super-hoops league, DePaul better wise up. The other six private schools (okay, maybe not the Providence Friars yet, but trust me, they’re headed in the right direction) have just as much history, in comparable cities, with already good coaches in place, to continue to be relevant on a national level.

All DePaul has in Oliver Purnell and that isn’t good enough for the fans, the city, the program, the new conference…

Should I go on? Or did you get the point DePaul?

Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports and wishes DePaul would get its act together. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone

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