In the words of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis: “Just win, baby.”
This quote exemplifies sports at college and professional levels. Winning is the only thing that matters.
And that is one thing the Rams men’s basketball team has not done consistently during the past six years. With the kind of talent this program can bring in, coaching is the only answer to why we are not winning games.
Dale Layer has been the head coach of the men’s basketball team for the last six years of his coaching tenure. Hired April 11, 2000, Layer vowed to attract competitive talent to the program, instill a sense of pride, develop a great program instead of one good season and emphasize graduating his athletes.
While these goals are important, the most crucial element to a program’s success is wins and losses. This is where Layer falls short of expectations.
The past two years I’ve had the opportunity to follow the team and report on them for the Collegian. I have had the chance to talk to Layer and he is a great guy; he runs his program and treats his players well. But facts speak for themselves.
In his six seasons as the Rams’ coach, Layer accumulated an overall record of 86-93. This includes an astonishing 15-55 record on the road. If you just look at his record within the Mountain West Conference, the numbers are even more concerning. In conference play Layer is 7-37 on the road, 19-24 at home and 4-5 on a neutral site court for a total conference record of 30-65. In fact, the only team he has a winning record against is MWC newcomer TCU.
With the exception of a late 2003 season three-game win streak and a trip to the NCAA Tournament to face basketball powerhouse Duke in the first round, the CSU basketball program has nothing to show for during the time Layer has spent here.
It isn’t like Layer hasn’t had the talent around him to bring the program to a higher level. He has coached players such as Matt Nelson, Jason Smith, Brian Greene, Freddy Robinson and Matt Williams. There is no doubt he has the ability to bring talent to this program, but what does he do with it?
Nelson was highly regarded around the conference after a successful freshman season but the coaching staff did little to help him improve.
He had talented players like Shelton Johnson, Dwight Boatner, Stephan Verwers, Philip Thomason and Marquie Cooke leave the program, rumored to be because of their dislike of the program and/or the coach.
Basically what it comes down to, just like any program in America, is money. The same thing that comes from alumni and boosters who want to see and support a winning tradition. The Rams are watching some of that money slip away as they continue to have losing seasons within the conference.
Money is one of the major problems in the discussion of replacing Layer. One argument is if CSU lets him go, the school can’t afford to pay him the final two years of his contract and hire someone else.
Layer is scheduled to make a base salary of $185,000 each year for the next two years, on top of a guarantee of at least $40,000 in promotional appearances, the use of a car, income from instructional camps and bonuses for qualifying for the postseason.
CSU would ultimately make money by hiring a good coach. It would be an investment for the future. Think about the season tickets CSU could sell with a winning program.
There are a lot of coaches out there that are just as good as Layer at developing a good program and graduating their players.
The only difference is, they might bring us a W.
Paul Baker can be reached at email@example.com