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Buzzer Beater: Will Hurley stay or will he go?

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The Spectrum

The men’s basketball head coach Bobby Hurley has been the center of attention for UB Athletics these past two weeks – from winning a Mid-American Conference championship to entering the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

Hurley led the Bulls to a 23-10 record this season, ending in a loss to West Virginia in the second round of “March Madness.”

In Hurley’s first two seasons in Buffalo, he’s accumulated a 42-20 record and was named a finalist for the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year award, which is given to the best mid-major coach.

But despite all these accomplishments, will he stay?

According to recent reports, Hurley is considering vacant head coaching positions at other universities. As of Thursday, UB Athletics said it wants to make Hurley the highest paid coach in the Mid-American Conference and has an offer in place to do so.

Will it be enough for Hurley to stay in Buffalo? Or will he bolt for a better program and more money? The Spectrum sports editors give their opinions.

Jordan Grossman, senior sports editor

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither was the UB basketball program.

Danny White and the rest of UB Athletics made headlines when they signed Hurley to lead the men’s basketball program, largely because of the potential of the team in his hands. His name alone can pull in a four-star recruit. In his second year, he’s on track to build the program up to its highest peak in its history.

But he’s not there yet.

Although this past season culminated in the best stretch of UB basketball in school history, the program can be built even higher. Hurley has the possibility of taking the team to the Round of 32 next year, or possibly even the Sweet 16.

Next year returns six of the team’s eight highest scorers, including MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss and breakout point guard Shannon Evans. And let’s not forget the four four-star recruits that will be on the team next year as well.

Everything is in place to succeed again next season. And Hurley should recognize that.

It’s no mystery that Hurley is going to bolt Buffalo at some point in the future. But it’s not going to be this year.

Every Mid-Major coach understands that in order to get to the next level, he/she must excel at the level they are currently at. If a Mid-Major coach wants to reach the next level, he/she must prove consistency – more than just one year of success.

It’s very puzzling that Hurley is reportedly considering the DePaul job. Hurley is in a much better position in Buffalo than going to a program that has twice as many losses as wins over the past five seasons. Why go from the top of a Mid-Major to the very bottom of the Big East – a conference that is known more for its history than its present?

While Hurley has exceeded expectations in his two years at UB, the ceiling for success in the program he helped build is improbable. Buffalo has a realistic opportunity to make even larger splashes in Division I basketball as early as next season. Hurley should stay to ensure the longevity of the program he helped build and make his name known as a star coach, not point guard. I can picture a storybook ending with Hurley succeeding Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski once the legendary Blue Devil coach retires.

Yes, it’s a far reach but plausible at the same time. If the program he is winning with is in great position to repeat next year, that type of job can open up doors much sooner than if he accepted the DePaul job.

And Hurley is smart enough to understand that. Even one more season of Hurley will ensure the longevity of Buffalo basketball, while cementing his legacy as a legitimate college coach that didn’t just have a lucky season.

Quentin Haynes, sports editor

I’m conflicted with what Hurley should do. On one hand, I think the men’s basketball team can be very good next season. I believe the Bulls cannot only win the Mid-American Conference Tournament again, but I think they can do it with 27 or 28 wins heading into Selection Sunday. Those two things could equal a single-digit seed for the Bulls, more program exposure, and possibly, Hurley parlaying the Buffalo job into something larger than the DePaul job.

But I think the people saying “This is just DePaul, why would anyone go there?” need to slow down. It’s the Big East. Say what you want, but that’s still a power conference to me.

He’s going to be in the middle of one of the four biggest recruiting hotbeds in the nation – Chicago, Illinois. I don’t think Hurley will turn DePaul into a powerhouse, but imagine Hurley, clanking his 1991 Duke Championship ring on a table in a recruit’s home, telling them to join his Big East program – a conference that has reach to New York City, Washington D.C., Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin.

I want Hurley to stay. I want to see Buffalo emerge as one of the best Mid-Major schools on the East Coast. But if DePaul can convince him to join a program in the middle of a great place for recruits and bump his salary up a bit, I think he’s gone.

And I don’t think I can blame him either.

Bobby McIntosh, asst. sports editor

The success that men’s basketball has seen under Bobby Hurley for the past two seasons has been nothing short of phenomenal. Winning 42 games, a Mid-American Conference championship, and appearing as a No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament has even gained the attention of President Barack Obama. Now, Buffalo wants to make him the highest paid coach in the MAC, and it is well deserved.

After all, sports are all about the money.

Hurley earned more than $300,000 last season but that’s not enough.

I think the Bulls have the best bargain in the MAC at the helm of the basketball team for the amount of publicity and growth that has resulted from Hurley’s success.

Three years ago, it was outrageous to fathom reaching the NCAA Tournament under Reggie Witherspoon. Although I loved Reggie, he never gave us what Buffalo needed: a MAC Championship.

Being a local, I have witnessed the struggle of Buffalo’s attempt to make an impact in the athletic world and have felt the sting of disappointment season after season in just about every major sport.

The Bulls’ basketball MAC Championship is the first glimmer of hope that the school has had since the 2008 football conference championship under Turner Gill. Once Gill left, the program experienced setbacks, and that is precisely what I believe will happen to men’s basketball if Hurley bolts.

Buffalo couldn’t afford to keep Gill, and it can’t afford Hurley. It’s as simple as that. I know that triumph in this city is brief and can be taken away once it’s realized that Buffalo can’t afford to continue success.

UB Athletics wants to make Hurley the highest paid coach in the MAC. Ohio University currently pays Saul Phillips $550,000 a season, which is the most in the conference.

Buffalo is simply a steppingstone where Hurley needs to prove himself in order to reach what some people believe to be his ultimate goal – coaching in a major conference, such as the Big East, Southeastern Conference (SEC), or Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

I’m cautiously optimistic that Buffalo can keep him in the MAC for one more year. I think Buffalo will have enough money to compete for one last chance for an NCAA Tournament run under Hurley. Anything beyond a year will be a gift.

Sports desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com


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