March 12, 2012
It actually came to no shock to me when a source around SUU athletics told me SUU men's basketball head coach Roger Reid would retire Thursday afternoon. With Reid's five-year contract coming to an abrupt end after this season, I often told people I thought he'd call it quits after the season.
But his sudden departure leaves SUU searching for a new coach to guide a men's basketball team that hasn't had a winning season in more than five years. It opens up many possibilities, but it couldn't have come at a worse time for the program.
SUU is led by Jackson Stevenett, an undersized forward, who was Reid's top project. Stevenett wouldn't have even played Division I hoops if Reid didn't give him the opportunity because he was too small. A brand new coach with no knowledge of the team might scrub SUU's leading scorer from the team based on his size. In addition, guard Damon Heuir remains on the team with Stevenett from SUU's top minutemen. A decision will have to be made if he's a one or two guard -- it took one and 1/2 years for SUU to answer that. Outside of those two, Wade Collie and Jordan Johnson are the only other players on the T-Birds' returning roster that has seen significant playing time.
It's going to be a rough welcoming period, most likely, to the soul who is selected to replace Reid.
An in-house replacement is highly unlikely, according to one source within the program, and no real candidate has emerged because of how sudden the announcement was. As one source said, nobody on the team knew about Reid's retirement until he told everyone on Thursday, including the athletic administration. The source said Reid and his relationship with the SUU administration was so polarized, that the rift was strong enough for Reid to neglect telling anyone about his decision to retire.
Names have popped up, especially ones with Southern Utah ties, but the source said many of those have "burned bridges" one way or another with the program. The source said assistant head coach Ron Carling, Reid's right-hand man would retire whenever Reid did. The only possible in-house replacement would by Johnny Brown, but that's unlikely too.
So, it essentially leaves the door wide open for a brand new name to join the SUU program.
If the athletic department searches for its men's basketball head coach in the same way it found its women's head coach, then it is more likely that it will extend offers to Division I assistant coaches, looking for the perfect candidate for the job that way. Women's head coach JR Payne was an assistant at Gonzaga and Santa Clara before taking over the T-Birds. She had a winning season in her second season and the team has lots of promise heading into next season.
But, for now the door is wide open for Reid's replacement. It could be some time before the new coach is announced, but then again, who knows.