D/j/ vu all over again

Feb 152007
Authors: Mike Donovan

There are very few guarantees in sports. However, Mountain West Conference basketball seems to have more than its fair share of them.

In the MWC, fans are guaranteed great home court advantages (Air Force and BYU are currently tied for the longest home winning streak in the nation), high-strung coaches (Wyoming’s Steve McClain seems absolutely bonkers), and CSU’s seemingly annual freefall in conference play.

Since Dale Layer was named head coach of the Rams in April of 2001, CSU has compiled a definitively average record of 101 wins and 102 losses. While seemingly neither good nor bad, a closer look seems to reveal an obvious deficiency in Layer’s tenure.

After the victory over TCU on Wednesday at Moby, Layer has been CSU’s head coach in 98 conference games. In those games, Layer-coached teams have won only 30, giving him a winning percentage of .306 in conference play.

Winning only three in every 10 games should not be acceptable for a new athletic director who is coming in to change a department around.

And while Layer’s overall win total of 101 is good for third on the all-time win list at CSU, his conference winning percentage is the worst since the household name H.B. Lee coached the Rams in 1950 to a conference record of 2-18.

Not only is Layer’s winning percentage sub-par, but each year brings about a conference losing streak.

This season will be the first in the last five that will not contain a seven-game losing streak. However, with its recent five-game snide, the Rams will continue the tradition of having Layer’s teams losing at least four games in a row each season.

Losing breeds discontent and that is exactly what boosters and students have started to feel when watching the men’s basketball team. Ramnation (a Web site for CSU fans) has been bombarded with forum threads calling for Layer’s head.

Students during the New Mexico loss this season started a “Fire Layer” chant, while one student vented his frustrations at the TCU game with a “one more year” sign.

That sign seems to bring about the biggest problem with the current coaching situation. If the new athletic director heeded to the fans and boosters’ advice and canned Layer, it would come with a six-figure buyout plus it would take a good chunk of money to hire a new coach.

And if there is one thing the athletic department doesn’t have, its money. Basically, there is no way Layer will be fired at the end of the season baring an unforeseeable monetary boost to the athletics budget.

So there you have it Ram fans, more mediocrity and no chance of a change until Jason Smith, Tyler Smith, Stuart Creason, and Tim Denson have all left the friendly confines of Moby Arena.

Ram fans should look toward a common theme of Chicago Cubs fans when looking for advice to this situation; there’s always (the year after) next year.

Sports Editor Mike Donovan can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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