The season isn't yet over, but the coaching carousel in our neck of the woods is already turning quickly. The East Carolina Pirates have hired recently dismissed Auburn Tigers coach Jeff Lebo and the Charlotte 49ers are reportedly interested in former Gamecocks coach Dave Odom.
The Pirates have to be happy with the Lebo hire. Lebo's tenure at Auburn was disappointing, but the disappointment largely owes to Lebo's inability to ever get the recruiting train rolling on the Plains, an admittedly tough job at a school with little tradition, inadequate facilities, and a perceived football-centric mentality. Lebo's on-court acumen, though, has never really been in question. I always thought Lebo's teams seemed highly motivated and generally fundamentally sound, and indeed his teams tended to overachieve when you consider the talent on the roster. That's the kind of coach that can succeed at a mid-major, especially one with a good recruiting base like ECU. Lebo's success at Tennessee Tech and Chattanooga prior to going to Auburn attest to his ability to do well in the mid-major context. It's also worth noting that Lebo is still a relatively young man, meaning he's probably highly motivated to succeed and, perhaps, get another shot at a big-time gig.
The Odom situation I'm not so sure about. Odom clearly has a decent enough history history to attract interest for an opening like Charlotte's, and he's expressed a desire to coach again over the past two years. However, based on his tenure at USC, you have to wonder just how strong his desire to succeed really is and, indeed, how many years he will continue to coach. He's not exactly a spring chicken any longer. At best I would see him as a quick-fix hire, and I'm not sure that's the best option for Charlotte. The 49ers play in the Atlantic 10, about as close to a major basketball conference as you can find in the mid-major ranks. They need a coach that can build their program's reputation for the longterm if they want to compete with teams like Xavier and Temple. Odom may solve some of their problems, but, other than in the sense that with a couple of years of success he might open the door for a better coach to come along, he probably won't solve their bigger issues. Whatever happens, I do wish Odom the best and appreciate his efforts at Carolina.