Old Dominion University is in its final season in the CAA, so the dismissal of its men’s basketball coach will not have a long-term impact on the University of Delaware. Still, anytime a school fires its all-time winningest coach in the middle of the season, it is worth examining. Blaine Taylor led Old Dominion to 239 victories during 12 seasons at ODU. His Monarchs have been to the postseason in each of the previous eight seasons, including four appearances in the NCAA Tournament. So it would seem odd that one god-awful season (ODU is 2-20 and on a 10-game losing streak) would be enough to cost Taylor his job.
We found out during ODU’s press conference on Tuesday that there is evidently more to this story than meets the eye. Taylor was not present, and ODU athletic director Wood Selig alluded to the fact that this was not a choice reached due to Taylor’s poor record this year.
“This decision is not based solely on wins and losses, but a number of factors by which a head coach is evaluated,” Selig said, according to the Associated Press. “At this point, in regard to our head men's basketball coach, our student athletes need more mentorship, leadership and guidance. Our fans and alumni need encouragement. Our administration needs confidence in our leadership.”
But why was he able to lead his Monarchs so effectively the last eight years, during which his team averaged more than 24 wins per season? What changed?
No one knows, but this video (posted by deadspin.com) from a recent coach’s show, is an example of rather odd behavior from Taylor:
Who knows what caused his senseless ramblings during that radio show, or if they had anything to do with his dismissal on Tuesday, but one thing is certain; one bad season does not sink a coach with Taylor’s resume.
It should be noted that Taylor has a history with alcohol. He was arrested for DUI in 1995 and then immediately afterwards voluntarily entered a 28-day rehabilitation program. He has said many times over the years that he has been sober since the incident.
Hopefully, whatever caused ODU to let Taylor go gets resolved, because he is universally viewed as one of the good guys in coaching. He always had a great story to tell or a pithy way to sum up his team’s prospects during the annual preseason CAA Media Day event.
This was obviously going to be his final season in the CAA, but no one could have ever seen it coming to a close like this. For his sake, the hope is that things get turned around quickly for Taylor, and he can land back on his feet. But a wild year for the league—which will have just seven teams competing in its men’s basketball tournament next month in Richmond—just got a little stranger.