Penn State loses its hoops coach to … Navy?

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Penn State isn’t much of a college basketball job. Sure, it’s in the Big Ten, has solid facilities and some recent success –including a 2011 NCAA tournament berth! – that no doubt pleased fans awaiting spring football practices.

But football is king. Heck, Bon Jovi takes precedence over the hoops program. Even career fairs matter more to the school.

So it maybe it shouldn’t be a massive surprise that Ed DeChellis would leave for the head coaching position at Navy.

What’s that? You didn’t know DeChellis was Penn State’s basketball coach?

Exactly.

DeChellis was 114-138 in eight seasons at Penn State, but that underscores the solid job he did. The Lions’ Big Dance berth this season was their first since 2001, while the fourth-place Big Ten finish was their second in three seasons. Hey, this team won the 2009 NIT. That’s good work for a place that doesn’t care about hoops.

(Should Penn State care when places like Ohio State, Texas and Florida are clearly caring about both? That’s a different column, and one that Dana O’Neil already wrote.)

Now, it’s not like DeChellis is headed for hoops glory at Navy. The Midshipmen logged back-to-back winning seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and finished second and third in the Patriot League, respectively. But Navy hasn’t been to the NCAA tourney since 2000, the same year it last won the league.

Even more puzzling is that DeChellis will be taking a pay cut, from roughly $650,000 $700,000 a year at Penn State to about $450,000 at Navy. According to David Jones of the Patriot-News, DeChellis was worried his contract wouldn’t be renewed when it expired in 2014. But he did praise Navy.

“This is a great job … a Big Ten job with Big Ten facilities. We’ve got all the bells and whistles,” DeChellis said at a press conference on Monday. “But to me, it’s not about the bells and whistles. It’s not about the large arenas anymore.”

So who’s willing to step into the Penn State mess? Names like Duquesne’s Ron Everhart, TCU’s Jim Christian, Marshall’s Tommy Herrion, Rhode Island’s Jim Baron and ex-Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio have already been tossed around.

But whoever takes the job better be patient and be willing to overlook a few insults. Like losing practice time to various school functions.

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