Charlotte's Bobby Lutz didn't go to South Alabama over the weekend but the Atlantic 10 got struck with a different shocker Tuesday night when Saint Louis fired coach Brad Soderberg without warning after a 20-13 season. The school issued a terse release saying a review of the program found a new coach was needed with SLU moving into a new $80.5 million campus arena for the 2008-09 season.
But why would you fire a coach now, after most other schools have already done their searches and picked over the good candidates? Did Soderberg commit an NCAA violation during the recruiting period? Probably not. Does Saint Louis have someone in mind who's been out of coaching and is interested in the Pete Gillen kind of way? And did Richard Chaifetz, the alum whose $12 million gift got his name on the new building, have a say in the matter? Now you're talking.
Saint Louis officials were known to be unhappy with the fact they haven't been to the NCAAs since 2000. And their 20-win season didn't even get them to the NIT this year. The campaign ended with a dreadful 20-point loss to George Washington in the A-10 Tournament and Soderberg got ripped the rest of the season for his team's dreadful January loss at St. Bonaventure when it came to Olean ranked 44th in the RPIs and lost to a 3-10 team that was No. 328 at the time.
When you can fire a coach who just won 20 games, all the hand-wringing at Canisius and Bona the last two years over making a change seems silly.