Central Michigan athletic director Dave Heeke had no other choice but to fire Ernie Zeigler as head basketball coach.
Heeke had to have dreams of having the Chippewas in the NCAA tournament after Zeigler brought his highly-recruited son Trey into the program.
But, instead of having a father-son dream scenario like Ray McCallum and his son Ray Jr. at Detroit, winning the Horizon League title and earning an NCAA tourney spot, the Zeiglers have had a nightmare two years with consecutive 20-loss seasons.
Simply put, Zeigler had more than enough time to get the job done and failed. Sure, he had a pair of division titles in six years, but coming in the weak West which last had a team win a MAC title in 2004. He had a 75-111 record with his best season coming in 2010 at 15-15.
Sure, Heeke has to pay Zeigler more than $350,000 for the final two years of his contract, but it will be well worth it with fewer than 1,000 fans attending games.
Yes, Trey Zeigler and his childhood friend Austin McBroom will more than likely transfer, but remember, they will be transfering from a 21-loss team, not a 21-win one.
Heeke has a lot to offer the next coach with a beautifully renovated arena and new practice facility.
Heeke should set his sights on 40-year-old Brett Reed who has guided Lehigh to two NCAA tournament appearances in five years, losing to Kansas 90-74 in 2010 and having a date with Duke on Friday.
Reed replaced his former boss Billy Taylor, now head coach at Ball State.
Reed is an Oakland County native who learned the game from his father who coached for more than two decades at Oakland Community College.
Reed knows how to coach. Just ask the Spartans who trailed Lehigh 38-35 at halftime this past December before pulling out a 90-81 win.
And, Reed can recruit, bringing in guard C.J. McCollum who has developed into the Patriot League Player of the Year.
Other top candidates have to include MSU assistant Dane Fife, former Utah coach Jim Boylen who was interested in the EMU job last year and Todd Lickliter, former head coach at Butler and Iowa.
Lickliter was an assistant at Miami (Ohio) University this past season, but has yet to be named head coach after Charlie Coles’ recent resignation.
Heeke knows he has to make the right choice this time around, especially with the facilities now at a first-rate level.
Oh, and Dave, you should probably gives those guys a call in person to set up an interview. After all, they like the personal touch, not a call from a search firm.