The move is shocking to many Penn State basketball faithful, as the program just came off its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001.
The Pennsylvania State University is approximately three-hours from Philadelphia. The Nittany Lions have to recruit in the area to build a contending Big Ten team.
If Penn State wants to become a legitimate Big Ten contender every season, the program needs to lure a big-time coach in order to land some good Philly basketball talent.
Which brings up the case of Fran Dunphy as the next head coach of the Nittany Lions.
Dunphy is known for building and rebuilding college basketball programs in the Philadelphia area. At Penn, Dunphy complied a 310-163 record, with 10 Ivy League titles in his 17-year tenure. Fran coached the 1994 Quakers into the second round of the NCAA Tournament, after an upset of sixth-seeded Nebraska.
When Dunphy was at Penn, the program was expected to win the Ivy League and make the NCAA tournament every season.
Dunphy currently is the head coach at Temple, succeeding Big 5 legend John Chaney in 2006. He rebuilt the Owls into an Atlantic-10 power and NCAA tournament regular once again. The Owls are 110-57 under Dunphy’s reign, with four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and three Atlantic-10 tournament championships.
The Nittany Lions have the money and resources to rebuild a program in two to three years under Dunphy’s reign. Fran will not be able to recruit players at Villanova’s level, but can sway away some of the second-tier players that choose Temple, St. Joe’s, or LaSalle.
Dunphy makes his players better from year one to year four and gets the best out of his team. Fran is an excellent defensive coach, which will fit well with Big Ten basketball.
Unfortunately for Penn State basketball, the program will need to offer Dunphy a lot of money and benefits to lure him out of Temple.
The Owls will be a top-25 team next season and are a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament. Dunphy has top players Juan Fernandez, Micheal Eric, and Ramone Moore returning and another strong recruiting class heading to Broad Street.
Temple is an Atlantic-10 powerhouse and is slowly creeping up to Villanova’s level in terms of success. A deep NCAA Tournament run (possibly next year) would transform the Owls into a national power once again.
Fran has coached and lived almost his whole life in Philly, so why would he want to head to the middle of nowhere to rebuild a basketball team he just defeated in this past year’s tournament?
Penn State should at least try to persuade him away from Broad Street in hopes of trying to build a basketball power. Dunphy has done it everywhere else he coached, so why not take his talents to Happy Valley?