There is two different ways you can look at the Brad Brownell era during his current head coaching stint with the Clemson Tigers. The optimist will say that he has had success (First season), that his teams have been young and he is still struggling with the rebuild which happens with every coaching change. The pessimist is not as nice. That person prefers to point out that Brownell has only won games with ex-Clemson coach Oliver Purnell’s players, that the team has gotten worse in every year he has coached and that the team not only loses a lot but is downright noncompetitive.
Regardless which person you are, the current Clemson season is nothing short of atrocious. Even with low expectations coming into the year, only winning 13 games (So far) while being four games under .500 in conference play is unacceptable.
It is hard to pinpoint where Brownell, or the Tigers’s program as a whole, has gone wrong. Given former head coach Purnell’s awful track record for the DePaul Blue Demons, but his former success at Clemson, you would think that the Tigers have a lot to offer and could possibly give Brownell a little more time to build the program. Purnell, who is now doing a horrible (add many other adjectives) job at DePaul, had a pretty good run at Clemson. Purnell took them to three NCAA tournaments and finished his stint with a 138-90 overall record. However, it should be noted that it wasn’t all success for Purnell. He also struggled his first three seasons (Much like Brownell), and even after having a good run towards the end, finished his Clemson career 12 games under .500 in ACC play.
The simple, lazy answer for the Clemson athletic department would be to give Brownell the boot. I have always been a believer in giving a coach at least a whole recruiting cycle (Four years) to turn a program into what he/she might have envisioned. Comparing other program’s success while using youth, against Brownell having youth, is almost unfair. Sure, the Kentucky Wildcats are great (With the exception of this year) every year with a slew of underclassmen, but the freshmen that are brought in there are only brought in, well, there. A top five recruiting class can’t go to every college, they only go to five programs. On the flip side. you can blame Brownell for the lack of great recruiting, although he has done an admirable job getting talent to the program. It is not as if Brownell has recruited so poorly that the team is knowingly uncompetitive going into every season.
Plus, the ACC isn’t every other basketball conference. Look at the rankings, then look at the players on the teams atop of the rankings. The top of the league is loaded with teams who are primarily composed of juniors and seniors. It is not as if Clemson is being beaten by teams who are throwing out a bunch of freshmen and sophomore.
I think it would be fair to give Brownell one more season to see what he can do with the program. Considering that most of the teams in the conference will be losing an abundance of talent, I think it is safe to assume a much better 2013-14 version of the Tigers. But hey, if I am wrong, you can just fire him next year.
I mean, what’s the hurry.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone