Brian Earl: The right coach at the right time for Cornell

Princeton finished in the top three in the Ivy League eight straight seasons with Brian Earl as an assistant coach. The Tigers were the only Ivy team to do so in that span. (College Chalk Talk)

In 2010, Cornell Athletic Director Andy Noel took two weeks to hire Virginia Tech assistant coach Bill Courtney as the replacement for the enormously successful Steve Donahue. Following the Big Red’s run to the Sweet Sixteen and Donahue’s jump to Boston College, Noel selected the former Bucknell All-Patriot League player from a final group that included Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Close and then-Temple assistant and
present Colgate head coach Matt Langel.

Read moreBrian Earl: The right coach at the right time for Cornell

Who will be Cornell’s next head coach?

With the firing of Bill Courtney, Cornell will begin a national search for a new head men’s basketball coach.  Who might be targets for the Big Red search committee?  Can the past help decide the future?

Here is a list of the Cornell coaches from the last 40 years:
2010-11 through 2015-16: Bill Courtney (Graduate of Bucknell)
1st Head Coaching job
15 years as Division 1 Assistant and Associate Head Coach, including 8 seasons working under Jim Larranaga at George Mason
60-113 overall and 27-57 Ivy; No post-season appearances; Highest Ivy standing was 5th place
2000-01 through 2009-10: Steve Donahue (Ursinus)
1st Head Coaching job
12 years as college Assistant Coach, including 10 seasons working under Fran Dunphy at Penn
146-138 overall and 78-62 Ivy; 3 Ivy League titles; 3 post-season appearances, including a Sweet 16 run in 2009-10

Read moreWho will be Cornell’s next head coach?

Cornell all-time moment No. 10: Hiring Steve Donahue as head coach

 

Pictured above (from left to right): Former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue, former Cornell president Hunter Rawlings, and athletic director Andy Noel
Pictured above (from left to right): Former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue, former Cornell president Hunter Rawlings, and athletic director Andy Noel

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Cornell is next because, well, it’s the last school left. (But not least!)

It won’t be a surprise to anyone that a good portion of the top 10 moments in Cornell basketball history will be dedicated to the three-year run from 2008 through 2010 that culminated in its first ever Sweet Sixteen berth. A lot had to happen and even more had to go right for a school with no discernable basketball pedigree to overtake the highest stage in the conference, and at times the nation. The stone that started the ripple effect was bringing the architect of the transformation to Ithaca, New York.

It was the fall of 2000 and the Cornell men’s basketball team was beginning the new century moving in the wrong direction. It had been 11 seasons since its last conference title in 1988, and the program had only finished with a winning record twice. The path toward relevance again took a detour when after four seasons and a 45-60 record, head coach Scott Thompson was forced to resign to focus on his battle with colon cancer. Whoever would take his place would inherit a team that after being picked to finished third in the league managed only a 3-11 conference record, good for dead last.

That man was 38-year-old Steve Donahue, who was officially hired on Sept. 6, 2000. It would have been a nice Cinderella story if Coach D, with a fresh motion offense, a few of his patented whistles, and some elbow grease took this group from worst to first immediately, but we all know it didn’t go down that way.

Read moreCornell all-time moment No. 10: Hiring Steve Donahue as head coach