Home > Uncategorized > Donnie Jones Isn’t Great, But UCF Wasn’t Going To Find Anything Much Better

Donnie Jones Isn’t Great, But UCF Wasn’t Going To Find Anything Much Better

We really don't know if Donnie Jones can coach as well as he can recruit yet

“Sleeping giant.” That phrase makes me so nauseous now.

Ever since about 2005 — when the football team rebounded from a winless season to make a bowl game, men’s basketball was back in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, baseball was coming off an appearance in the NCAA regionals and new stadiums and state-of-the-art athletic facilities were on the horizon — UCF has basically been known as the University of Sleeping Giant. Just need to change the initials a bit.

Thus, UCF sports fans do feel a little entitled. Not like Tiger Woods entitled, but when you’ve heard all about how great your school’s sports are going to become very shortly, you expect the best. Burgeoning athletics, great location, 50,000+ students — let’s go!

But since 2005, the football team has been predictably inconsistent and the basketball team has experienced numerous disappointments once the regular season ends. The baseball team is close to irrelevant. The hottest stories about UCF athletics lately have been some that school’s don’t want to be known for.

Still, that expectation of reaching another level remains. When Kirk Speraw was let go as the men’s basketball head coach earlier this month after 17 years, rumors flew about whom UCF was considering for the job.

And whom took the job? Donnie Moore, err, Davy Jones, err, Donnie Jones.

Yes, Donnie Jones. Some people are upset about this hiring because he doesn’t have nationally known name. Well, at least not this Donnie Jones. The other Donnie Jones is a pretty good NFL punter and you all should know that by now.

Jones’ head coaching resume isn’t very attractive, but UCF men’s basketball doesn’t deserve more. The giant is still sleeping. Since moving from the Atlantic Sun to Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 season, the Knights have been ousted in the first round of the C-USA tournament in three of those seasons, and a couple of those early exits came after a relatively impressive winter.

Ernie Kent’s not walking through that door. Billy Gillispie and Paul Hewitt are not walking through that door. Tim Floyd … well, he could have walked through that door, but I think there’s room at UCF for only one controversial head coach.

So Moore it is. His outstanding positive is possessing the one quality that AD Keith Tribble subtlety criticized Speraw for lacking: Good recruiting. Jones brought in many of the players who helped the University of Florida claim national championships in 2006 and 2007.

But that was as an assistant coach. As a UCF fan, I do worry that there is too much value being put on Jones’ one good season at Marshall. The Thundering Herd had a 24-10 record and a fourth-place finish in C-USA this past season. But guess what round of the conference tournament they were eliminated in? A hint: It’s the number that comes before two.

The more successful year of Jones’ two other seasons at Marshall was 2007-08. The Thundering Herd went 16-14, 8-8 in conference, finishing eighth. Ironically, the team won a conference tournament game — much like how UCF finally advanced to the second round this past season despite earning ninth place in the regular season.

That result wasn’t good enough for Speraw to keep his job and it certainly won’t be good enough for Jones, considering that Tribble wants this team to compete for conference titles consistently in the very near future. Jones has had three unspectacular seasons as a head coach in Conference USA. And now he’s moving over to a team that has had nothing but unspectacular seasons in Conference USA. It’s a basic comparison, but I’m not sure how this is going to lead to conference titles.

Judging from his record, the big concern about Jones should be his ability to coach ’em up after he brings ’em in. Regardless, I hope UCF fans heartily support him, no matter his rather unproven history. The thought that somebody from the Pac-10 or ACC was going to come on board was extremely unrealistic. For the class of head coach available to the Knights, this outcome has some promise.

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