I felt sorry for Steve Patterson the other day when they ordered him to announce his resignation.
The Arizona State basketball coach was just one more victim of J. Russell Nelson, that total incompetent who still sits as president of the university.
It was predicted even before Nelson came down to Tempe from Colorado that the job at the Tempe athletic factory was beyond his capabilities.
Sadly, they were correct.
"I really feel it's the best thing for the program," Patterson said.
He was speaking at a press conference moments before Arizona State went on the floor to absorb another defeat at the hands of the University of California.
Under Patterson, defeat has been no stranger to the Sun Devils. The only thing the Sun Devils have become strangers to is their own fans. They've been playing to empty houses for years now.
The present team lacks any real talent. It's clear they've been poorly coached as well. It's torture to watch them play because they're so unskilled and disorganized as to be unwatchable.
Patterson not only didn't recruit well, but he was unable to organize those he could persuade to come.
But Patterson is not the one to blame here.
President Nelson made it certain the situation would crumble when he approved the hiring of inexperienced Charles Harris as athletic director.
Harris either has no power or no brains. It's that simple.
An athletic director with any intelligence would have realized it was necessary to bring in a big-name coach when Bob Weinhauer was let out.
But Harris, at least on the surface, made the decision to retain the inexperienced and awkward Patterson as head coach of the basketball team. Patterson is best suited to coaching at an exclusive prep school.
Those trying to soften the blow point to the fact that ASU has experienced an inordinate amount of injuries. That excuse doesn't hold water.
Injuries can prevent you from winning the Pac 10 title. They cannot prevent your team from looking like a well-coached unit on the floor. It was also Harris, at least on the surface, who made the decision to retain Larry Marmie as football coach when Chuck Cooper fled for Ohio State.
And who but Harris can be blamed for the fact that the Arizona State track-and-field team--once one of the nation's best--is now practically nonexistent?
There is a clear solution to these problems.
The next president should be a man who understands the needs of Arizona State. It is the country's sixth-largest university, but it still has a reputation as unsavory as that of a Nevada-Las Vegas.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
As soon as possible, an athletic director of the first rank should be found and hired. All things will stem from that decision.
The success of Lute Olsen down in Tucson makes it imperative that ASU pick a coach of similar reputation. I have no confidence that Harris has the acumen to either pick an outstanding basketball coach or negotiate with him once chosen.
It's apparent that Marmie won't last as football coach. In Harris, ASU has an athletic director who appears to be letting events control him. To delay making a change in the football situation only endangers a program that could sink very quickly.
Certainly, Patterson was ripe for extinction. But so are those above him who are even more culpable.