In a DI hoops climate in which hair-trigger firings of underperforming coaches are a regular occurence, Seth Greenberg’s continued survival at Virginia Tech is a major anomaly. Since his hiring in 2003, Greenberg has led the Hokies to the NCAA tournament only once — in 2007 — and has amassed a very disappointing 167-117 record as a perennial also-ran in the ACC. In spite of it all, Greenberg remains.
Today’s piece in the Washington Post’s Hokies Journal reveals deeper signs of dysfunction in Blacksburg, following the announcement that Associate Head Coach James Johnson is leaving to take an assistant’s job under Brad Brownell at rival Clemson. This follows hard on the heels of an earlier announcement that his director of basketball operations and another assistant are departing for similar jobs at UAB. The grand total of assistants fleeing the program for seemingly lateral moves is now up to six over the past four seasons.
According to David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press, Tech AD Jim Weaver refuted the notion that Johnson’s departure had anything to do with money, though he admitted that he asked Virginia Tech’s president for permission to increase assistant salaries specifically to stay in step with Clemson following Johnson’s announcement.
The perception that Tech is not the place to be for an upwardly-mobile coach might have as much to do with it as money, though. The Clemson job Johnson took was open because Brownell’s assistant Rick Ray was named head coach at Mississippi State. More money and a shot at BCS-level head coaching? Nobody’s going to turn that down.
It seems pointless to say that Greenberg had better make the Big Dance this year or risk losing his job. Pundits have said that for years now. However, Tech’s inability to keep assistants, especially talented recruiters, in the fold, is like putting sand under the feet of a head coach who is continually struggling to climb uphill.