As was expected, Rutgers men's basketball coach Eddie Jordan was fired today by athletic director Patrick Hobbs. His third season as head coach ended after Rutgers lost in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament. The team finished 7-25 overall and 1-18 in conference play, resulting in a second consecutive last place finish in the Big Ten. Eddie Jordan's combined record in three seasons was 29-68 for a 29% winning percentage. In conference play, with the AAC in his first season), Rutgers went 8-46 for a 15% winning percentage. He led Rutgers to a 3-35 record in two seasons in the Big Ten for a 8% winning percentage.
Rutgers has fired Eddie Jordan. Story coming.— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) March 10, 2016
Jordan's contract ran through April of 2018 and he is owed $2.065 million after being terminated two years early. If Hobbs had waited until after April 23rd, 2016, the buyout would have been $2.95 million, so he saved almost $900,000 by making this decision now. Eddie was scheduled for a 50% raise in the amount of guaranteed compensation added to his base pay, as well as a $100,000 retention bonus. The predicament in keeping Eddie was more than just the buyout. If Hobbs had retained Jordan but not extended his contract, it would have been a detriment to recruiting for a coach without a long term deal. So Hobbs essentially needed to go one of two ways, go all in on Eddie or cash out. Today he made the latter move, and it's now up to Hobbs to reshape the culture and future of this long suffering program. Of course, while Hobbs saved close to a million dollars in the short term by firing Jordan now, he will need every penny and more so in investing in the new coach to replace him.
Jordan was hired in April of 2013 and was tasked to heal the program and restore it's winning ways of the past after the fallout of the Mike Rice scandal. Credit Eddie for accomplishing the first part, as he exhibited good character and held his players to the same high standards during his tenure. Every player under Jordan who became a senior graduated or will graduate this spring. Of course, there was Eddie's own issue with graduation, as it was discovered early on in his tenure that he fallen a few credits short. Eddie led by example and graduated last spring, and was able to turn a negative into a positive.
Unfortunately, on the court Eddie had very few moments to be proud of during his three seasons as coach of the team. He accumulated losses to Drexel, William & Mary, Fairleigh Dickinson, St. Peter's and St. Francis (PA). He went 0-3 against rival Seton Hall, as Rutgers was outscored by an average margin of 21 points in the three meetings. After losing to Princeton in his first season, he removed them from the schedule, despite the fact the two schools have met 120 times all-time. Eddie had the same plan to drop Monmouth from the schedule after losing to them this season. There was the 61 point loss to Louisville in his first season. There was the worst home loss in program history by 50 points to Purdue this season. The team lost 32 consecutive Big Ten conference games, and set the longest losing streak in program history this season at 17 games.
An argument has been made that Eddie inherited a fractured roster and needed more time to recruit. It should be noted of the 11 scholarship players on the active roster this season, the only player not rated a 3-star or higher recruit in high school was Omari Grier. Injuries were a major factor this season, but the margin of defeat was particularly alarming. The previous two seasons, Eddie had one of the greatest players in program history, Myles Mack, and current NBA D-League player Kadeem Jack. Each season, the win total decreased, from 12 to 10 to 7. This season was the fewest wins since the 1987-1988 season, also the last season of former head coach Craig Littlepage.
The biggest win in Eddie's tenure as head coach was the upset of #4 Wisconsin at home last January. While the Badgers were missing National Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky for this game, it was a huge victory for the program, as the Badgers went on to finish the season as the national runner-up. That win brought Rutgers to 2-2 in the Big Ten at the time. After two full seasons, Eddie Jordan and Rutgers have gone 1-33 since, which includes two first round losses in the conference tournament. Their only win was against Minnesota, who was missing five of their top six scorers for that game.
It's unfortunate that one of the best players in Rutgers basketball history was dismissed as head coach, 40 years after leading the program to the Final Four. However, it was the right move by the Rutgers administration, specifically athletic director Patrick Hobbs. Now he is tasked with finding the right coach to resurrect a program that has experienced 10 consecutive losing seasons and 25 seasons without making the NCAA Tournament. It is also time to thank a loyal son for his service and wish him well. Jordan joins a long list of coaches that include Rice, Hill, Waters, and Bannon, who have all failed in restoring the glory of the late seventies and early eighties. It's Hobbs job to find coach who can change the many years of failure and disappointment. For now, we wait. In Hobbs We Trust!