An Open Letter To Steve Masiello About USF

Dear Steve Masiello,

By now it’s apparent that you’re one of the top candidates for the job at South Florida. But I want to say, “Don’t take it.”

Steve Masiello (Photo courtesy Manhattan athletics)
Steve Masiello (Photo courtesy Manhattan athletics)

It’s not because you have to spend your entire career at Manhattan. Even the most rabid fans will understand when it’s time to take a bigger job that offers more opportunities and a bigger stage. It’s just that South Florida isn’t that job.

I know that your mentor Rick Pitino has endorsed the job, telling you, according to the Tampa Bay Times, “I said, ‘For you, it’s a grand slam.'”

Pitino thinks the move to the American Athletic Conference, plus renovations to the practice facility, and the Sun Dome will make it a better situation. The Bulls are also getting a new athletic director on Monday. Things are certainly changing.

What won’t change though is that USF is a football school that happens to play basketball. The Bulls have chewed their past three head coaches. Seth Greenberg went 108-100 at USF before escaping for Virginia Tech. Then Robert McCullum came in and barely won more than a third of his games. Stan Heath, with his success at Kent St. and Arkansas, was supposed to fix everything. Instead he went 97-128 (37-89 in conference play) and was fired after seven seasons.

Steve, it’s clear that you’re an excellent coach. The job you did with an overmatched team against a talented Louisville squad that many think will be the NCAA tournament champion was incredible. Maybe you’re dreaming about what could happen if you had double the resources at a “major conference” school. But just because Louisville played in the AAC this season, doesn’t mean that South Florida is on nearly the same level.

There’s an obvious stratification, at least in terms of basketball, in the AAC. As Louisville heads to the ACC next season Cincinnati, Connecticut and Memphis will be at the top. What happens below them will be determined by the individual programs’ commitment to basketball. South Florida hasn’t shown that commitment yet.

So stay at Manhattan. There will be other opportunities. Yes, Rhamel Brown, George Beamon, and Mike Alvarado are graduating. Still, the cupboard isn’t exactly bare. Ashton Pankey and Emmy Andujar will need help, but will form the core of one of the best front courts in the MAAC next season. Other players will step up, as they did when George and Mike were injured this season. Maybe the record isn’t 25-8 next season, but I’m sure the Jaspers aren’t about to slide to the bottom of the MAAC. You’ll have that opportunity to earn the automatic bid during three stressful days in March (in Albany, NY).

And if you do it again? Other jobs will certainly be available. They’ll have better basketball tradition and even more resources than USF. They will offer amazing opportunities.

Yes, USF is a big challenge. Leave it to someone else (maybe John Pelphrey). The future is bright at Manhattan and your career is even brighter, even without a short stop in Tampa Bay.

Sincerely,

-John Templon

13 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Steve Masiello About USF

  1. While I agree with the crux of your plea, I’d take umbrage with the below sentiment:

    “Maybe you’re dreaming about what could happen if you had double the resources at a ‘major conference’ school.”

    …double? I’m thinking at least quadruple…

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    1. Using the latest data from The Equity In Athletics data cutting tool it’s around 3x. I was being conservative because it’s hard to trust those numbers. EIA says Manhattan spent $1.7 million on men’s basketball in 2012-13, whereas USF spent $4.4 million. That’s 2.6x, but the validity of both of those numbers is quite easy to question. So I just went with “doubled,” but I would accept reasonable arguments for a higher multiplier.

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  2. It seems to me that you “John Templon” used bad science to draw your conclusion. It’s like you made a conclusion and then you wrote the article to support your conclusion. The bottom line is you don’t want Manhattan to lose Masiello. Why not just be honest and say so rather than draw up a supposedly unbiased plea.

    Stan Heath took over a made to order tournament team at Kent State built by Gary Waters. Coach Waters had taken Kent State to the NCAA two times with an NIT berth in between in the three years preceding Stan Heath. Stan Heath cashed in and parlayed it into a bigger paycheck at Arkansas. No one can blame him for that.

    At Arkansas Heath’s 5 year record was 82-71 (.556), but his conference record was an abysmal 31-49 (.388). The Razorbacks finished on year at second place in the SEC West. In SEC basketball, the SEC East is the powerful side of the conference ( just the opposite of SEC football).

    Stan was in over his head at Arkansas and after a coach like Nolan Richardson the Arkansas fan base knew it. He was fired.

    At USF Stan was notorious for letting the inmates run the asylum and he was a terrible game manager as well. The USF fan base was calling for his head for the last two years.

    USF may more than quadruple Manhattan’s basketball budget because they have a lot of exit money from the Big East available and the administration as well as the board of trusties is ready to emphasize basketball at USF.

    The Bulls play in the Sun Dome which was renovated to the tune of 35 million dollars complete with luxury suites. the 2013/14 season was the first in the renovated Sun Dome. The new Sun Dome is a state of the art facility.

    The state of the art muma Center is where the Bulls practice. The 51,000 sq ft, 2 story was completed for the 2011 basketball season at a cost of 11 million dollars.

    Now I ask you this Mr. Templon. Does a school drop 46 million into basketball facilities if they are just a football school ?

    JR Wilson USF Alum

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    1. I don’t know about “bad science,” but I do appreciate the thoughtful response. It’s obvious from yours and Mark’s comments that there are most certainly USF fans that care about the program. That’s great. I hope that whoever you get as head coach does a great job. I just hope it’s not Steve Masiello, but I know even among my our site’s writers there is disagreement over whether he should stay or go. (As there are among other DI head coaches.)

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  3. Take the USF job- already renovated the Sun Dome and you will do amazing there. Obviously John is biased and does not want you to leave Manhatten. Do what your heart tells you to do but USF is a great upgrade for you. I think Rick Pitino would know a little bit better than John who wrote this open letter. Steve and USF are a perfect combo.

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  4. You have to take the job. Three best players at Manhattan are graduating. Stock will not be higher next year. What else can he accomplish at Manhattan? And why would he want to stay there any longer? This is a no-brainer. If offered, he has to accept. It’ll probably be 3-4x the salary and if we use your numbers, 2x the budget.

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  5. Maisello definitely wasn’t my first choice in candidates. Bruce Pearl would have been the right hire and a great fit, however USF dragged their feet and felt Pearl’s less than choir boy reputation would convey the wrong message. What blows my mind is the amount of money USF wasted on hiring a search firm to find Masiello. It wasn’t like he was unknown. We should have just paid the money to Ricky P. Pitino pimped Masiello’s status last week like a government commercial promoting Obummer Care.

    Well, I hope old sport can coach. Our last two coaches apparently lacked the aptitude to figure things out on the court (X’s and O’s). Heath could recruit, but couldn’t do anything with the recruits he brought in. McCullum – man – not sure what he did right. Hoping the guy someday gets redemption even if it’s on the high school level. Greenberg wasn’t bad for USF – he just fell out of approval with a majority of the fan base and left for VaTech before he got fired. He did alright at VaTech, eventually getting fired (VaTech then floundered with their next hire) – but he did slay some giants along the way for the Hokies. Seth always seemed to get screwed by the tourney selection committee (he pissed someone off there) and has found a nice home at ESPN (he’ll be the entitled generation’s next Dick Vitale).

    USF would like to be a football school. However, unless the ship gets righted soon, we’re going to be like Tom Hanks in Castaway, forever lost – in search of a P5 conference bid.

    This is a nice little raise for Maisello. If Manhattan paid him the type of money USF is about to bestow upon him, he might be able to afford the monthly rent on a 1,000 sq ft condo in downtown Manhattan. Hmmm… winter in NY or winter in Tampa? NYC skyline views or scenic routes along the gulf coast?

    If Maisello is as good as advertised, he’ll have an opportunity to coach at USF for a very long time. My guts says if he is Pitino good, he’d jump ship for Kentucky if that opportunity ever comes along. I guess we’ll just wait and see how this next seven years plays out. Like I said previously – not my first choice – but I’m also not writing his checks. We’ve seen our athletic department totally blow coaching hire after coaching hire with revenue generating sports. Will Maisello reverse the trend? If he does, they’ll name the Sun Dome after him.

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  6. I’m with John but he failed to mention the rise of SMU. South Florida can’t be turned around by anyone. The schools basketball program is embarrassing to watch. The only reason I like them is because it gives the team I root for an automatic win.

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    1. USF can definitely be turned around with the right coach at the helm. Yeah, we may not have had the best season and only won 3 conference games but lets not forget that 1 of those 3 was your precious Mustangs, so I wouldn’t exactly write us off as an “automatic win”

      Get off your high horse (pun intended)

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  7. I disagree strongly- in the AAC, USF is a very good job. Cincy, UConn, and Memphis lend the conference a lot of credibility, and SMU is on the rise under Larry Brown. After those four, it’s a crapshoot. There’s no reason why this won’t be a 3-4 bid league in most season, so there is much more tournament opportunity. Then there’s the money- USF can offer much, much more money. In terms of facilities, they’re first rate and brand new. As a place to live? It’s not Manhattan, but Tampa is a pretty nice place to be. And it doesn’t hurt that USF returns the AAC All-Freshman Center (John Egbunu) and Power Forward (Chris Perry) as building blocks. Throw in former All-Big East point guard Anthony Collins (only played 8 games this year) and you can see that there are some immediate building blocks to make a big splash.

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  8. DCW I think you are using conventional wisdom in your ranking of the AAC. You have UCONN, Cincy, Memphis and SMU as the front runners in the conference next year. Losing Louisville to the ACC takes a top notch team away, so the league will not be as strong at the top next year. Rutgers is no big loss basketball wise, but I’ll miss them in football. That was a fun rivalry.

    I think the AAC will be stronger in positions 5 through 8 than they were last year.

    Houston coach James Dickey just resigned and the rumor is that Kelvin Sampson is the replacement. Sampson can flat out coach. He did a great job at Oklahoma and parlayed that into the Indiana job. He got a 5 year ban for illegal contact with recruits which is now up. He has been coaching in the NBA since his Indiana embarrassment. As luck would have it Sampson is an assistant with the Houston Rockets, so he doesn’t even have to relocate. Houston has a lot of young talent that needs a stem winder like Sampson to show them how to win on a regular basis. With players like rising senior Tashawn Thomas as well as stud rising juniors Danuel House and Jherrod Stiggers the cougars will be a team to fear in the coming season. They underperformed their talent level in the 2013/14 season.

    The addition of Tulsa coached by former Kansas Jayhawk and NBA star Danny Manning adds a serious basketball program to the AAC. Tulsa won the CUSA title in Manning’s second year and Manning was voted CUSA coach of the year. 13 seed Tulsa dropped the NCAA opening round 76-59 to a hot 4 seed UCLA Bruins team. Manning had a 14 year NBA career before returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach under Bill Self for 10 years, so he has definitely served his apprenticeship. Manning has the reputation as a tireless recruiter and one of the top coaches of big men in college basketball. Tulsa will be a tough out every game.

    The Temple Owls had a down year last year and a 9-22 (4-14) record in 2013/14. Fran Dunphy has a .659 winning percentage over a long career. Since joining Temple in 2006 Dunphy has had six 20 game win seasons out of 8 seasons. Temple’s problem in 2013/14 was a lack of depth due to graduation. They return 3 double figure scorers and you just expect Temple to be a better team defensively in the coming season. Anyone who thinks Temple won’t be a factor is wrong.

    Donnie Jones will have his hands full with UCF after losing future NBA player Isiah Sykes to graduation. They lost some scholarships due to recruiting violations. But Jones can coach. So you never know with the Knights.

    USF has great talent already in place in their 2 AAC 1st team All Freshman big men 6’10” 245 lb C John Egbunu and 6’8″ 265 lb PF Chris Perry, 6’5″ 205 lb G/F rising junior Javontae Hawkins has star written all over him (he needs a coach), PG Anthony Collins (AC) is coming off a knee injury, but is a very good player, 2 guard Corey Allen offers good depth and two redshirt freshman 6’6″ 200 lb G/F Bo Zeigler and and 6’6″ 245 lb F Dre Clayton offer strong competition for the starters and may break into the starting lineup. Those two kids will both see the floor a lot under Masiello because he plays 10 deep I am told.

    Tulane went to the NIT and lost 56-66 to Princeton in the opener. Tulane has a history of good basketball.

    THe AAC will be a very good conference in 2013/14.

    JR Wilson

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  9. Mr. Templon,

    Although your open letter pinned to Coach Masiello is well articulated, I completely disagree with your premise. I’m sure there will be “better” jobs that would/will open up in the future, however with his connections in New York there is NO doubt in my mind he would have floored a very competitive product and challenge for the AAC Title year end and year out (I’ve always said if you coach collegiate football you have to be able to recruit Florida and if you coach collegiate basketball you have to be able to recruit New York). Bottom-line, that kid can flat axx coach period…

    Now with that being said I do NOT condone Coach Masiello embellishing on his resume, however South Florida must take a HUGE chunk of the blame for this debacle as they should have allowed the vetting process to run its course prior to making headlines (pumping its chest) on how it landed the hottest young coach in the business who just so happened to have been born on the Ricky P. coaching tree. In my humble opinion since South Florida was complicit in this public relations disaster which has now brought into question the credibility of two other institutions of higher learning (Manhattan and Louisville), they should have allowed Coach Masiello to gracefully change his mind (decline the offer) and handle this minor resume “discrepancy” privately. Thanks!

    Nickalus T. Holt

    NOTE: I use the term “minor” discrepancy as I’m sure after being enrolled at Kentucky for four (4) years all of his coursework is complete. Since he was paying his own way (walk-on), nine times out of 10 he probably has an outstanding bill with Kentucky which subsequently is holding up his degree.

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    1. I understand what you’re saying, but I think it’s worth pointing out one detail: USF never officially announced anything about Masiello and it never “pumped it’s chest” the only reason the word about him being an extremely potential hire got out is because the information leaked from a few people in the athletics department who can’t keep there fingers off of their twitter app. Should they have done that? No, but that’s no means to judge an entire school and AD by, especially since it was done out of pure excitement. If you go by strictly the official releases then the only thing you’d be aware of is that USF was considering the hire but ultimately found a discrepancy on his resume, and that was only a response to all the leaks. I will admit I’m extremely disappointed because I was looking forward to Masiello doing great things with the talent the BBall team has but I guess we’ll have to keep looking

      The last few years have by far not been USF’s best years in the Basketball and Football departments so believe me when I say when we get excited about a good hire or anything like that we’re not “pumping our chests” at the rest of the country, we are just students and fans who want to see their school be the best it can be and get back to the level it once was and beyond. Go Bulls!

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