Look who's playing for a national championship tonight! (Hint: Not Gail Goestenkors' team.) (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Congratulations to the Texas A&M women's basketball team. After the Aggies' consecutive victories over top-seeds Baylor and Stanford, the Aggies will be playing UConn for the national championship tonight. And in much the same way that many Aggies supported us when we played USC a few years back, I'll put aside our rivalry and root for our in-state neighbors tonight, though I understand that many of you might not share my feelings of goodwill.
(Author's note: I am aware that the media is engaged in a industry-wide conspiracy to continue April Fool's Day a few extra days to try and convince you that UConn actually lost to Notre Dame on Sunday and that the Aggies will instead be playing the Irish tonight for the championship game. Don't be fooled.)
But the Aggies' proximate success, and the more consistent success of Baylor over the past few years, begs a question for Longhorn faithful: has the Forty Acres received its money's worth from Goestenkors, the highest paid coach in the conference and one of the highest paid in the country when we signed her in 2007, over her four years on campus?
Reviewing the evidence, I think the answer is unequivocally "no." It's time for Goestenkors to go.
More analysis after the jump.
OK, I lied. The answer isn't unequivocally "no". There's no way I could no that, since, before I continue, I believe it is important for me to disclose some basic facts about my knowledge of the Texas women's basketball program, so important that I need to put it in bold:
I did not watch a Texas women's basketball game all season. In fact, despite my good intentions, I probably haven't watched a Texas women's game in several years.
Even without having watched any games, I still know what kind of standards we have at Texas. And they're high standards. Damn high standards. And they should be, for the richest athletic department in the country.
And I can take that knowledge and apply it to Goestenkors' four-year track record and see that it is as clear as day that it doesn't meet those standards:
- 49 losses, with double-digits losses all four seasons
- a .500 (32-32) conference record
- one second round tournament exit followed by three consecutive first-round exits
Meanwhile, we've been lapped by Baylor. And Texas A&M. And Oklahoma, which appeared in the previous two Final Fours. I think this might be symptomatic of the biggest problem facing the women's program right now: what appears to be an overwhelming sense of mediocrity and apathy, a sense that we're going to be stuck where we are for a while.
Can anyone argue that a highly-paid men's coach, let alone a football coach, wouldn't be in grave jeopardy of losing his job, if it hadn't already been lost, if he had compiled a similar record of mediocrity over his first four years on campus and had allowed the program to become such an afterthought while surrounded by stellar programs at our rivals? (Think David McWilliams without the random Cotton Bowl appearance -- and even with the Cotton Bowl, he only lasted five years.)
At this point, since I don't really have much more to add than saying "Look at these stats! I don't like!", I'd like to turn it over to those who are more familiar with the program to get their insights onto whether Goestenkors deserves more time. Was their institutional rot when she took over that it's taking her a longer time than preferred to overcome? (Comparing Goestenkors' record to the last couple of years under Jody Conradt shows a mild improvement, but nothing too significant.)
Are there other factors at play which don't easily reveal themselves in win-loss records which justify giving Goestenkors another year or two to get the program back to its modest heights of the early 2000s, let alone the glory years of the 1980s?
Or is the mediocrity we're seeing out of the women's basketball program merely symptomatic of what I perceive to be an overall mediocrity, or at the very least underperforming, from our women's programs, a mediocrity which is able to exist away from the harsh spotlight which exist on football and men's basketball and even baseball, and that the question we really need to be asking is not whether Goestenkors needs to go but rather whether women's AD Chris Plonsky needs to go. (Remember that DeLoss Dodds only oversees the men's programs.)
Or, at the end of the day, Goestenkors, and Plonsky, can survive because, frankly, we don't give a damn about women's sports at Texas?