C. Vivian Stringer.
If you follow basketball at all, you know who she is. And if you have any interest at all in Rutgers women's basaketball, you probably have an opinion about the Hall of Fame coach. One way or the other.
Stringer has been "on the banks" since 1995, and if Pat Hobbs is able to follow through on his plan, she'll definitely be here for a bunch more. Only the second coach in RU women's hoops history, Stringer has a 451-231 record at RU in her 21 years here and is the winningest coach in Big Ten history, including her time at Iowa.
And Pat Hobbs wants her back.
At the end of 2013-14, then-athletic director Julie Hermann negotiated a new four-year contract with Stringer that brought her salary down, but became, in essence, a rolling one-year contract. That is something that was hurting Stringer and Rutgers with recruits. And in light of that, here's the key point, from nj.com's Keith Sargeant:
Extension is no-brainer to me. Stringer's contract is basically a 1-year rollover. She's getting killed on the recruiting trail b/c of it.— Keith Sargeant (@KSargeantNJ) May 12, 2016
And for that reason, probably among others, Pat Hobbs wanted to keep Stringer in the fold with a more solid commitment.
"Certainly anyone looking at this from the outside should view this as a commitment to Coach,'' Hobbs said. "We want to provide her the resources she needs not just contractually but resources like facilities for the program, and we're well on our way to accomplishing that.''
Stringer, of course, minced no words in saying that a lack of facilities was hurting her and Rutgers in reaching their goals. Hobbs is in the process of correcting that. And a new contract can't hurt, either.
Time to go....or no?
Of course, not everyone would agree that keeping Stringer is the best solution.
Despite winning two-thirds of her games, having 15 NCAA appearances, and having taken RU to two Final Fours, there are those who say the game has passed her by. Her vaunted "55 defense" is not what it once was, as teams with aggressive scorers find ways to break it. In an era of higher scoring games, last year her team ranked 86th in team defense and 213th in scoring offense.
In 2013-14, the team won the WNIT Championship. To many, though, it was a disappointment not making the NCAAs. I wonder, right now, if men's fans would complain about such a result.
And the usual complaints come out when coaching salaries - particularly Stringer's - are discussed.
@rydunleavy last time Stringer made NCAA.for all that money ?— CHOP (@Ruknighttime) May 13, 2016
The answer to that question, by the way, was 2015.
And people will look at her record and say it's declining, and that she can't get the talent needed to compete at the level she should.
In the table above, the gold bar is Stringer's best year at Rutgers (percentage wise), a 27-5 record in which Rutgers won the Big East title and made the NCAA Sweet 16. The green bars are her two Final Fours at Rutgers and the WNIT title in 2014. Her only three losing seasons (in red) were early on in her tenure at RU. But the naysayers would point to the last three seasons and tell you the trend is downward, despite being in the Big Ten for the last two. Of course, she had a similar trajectory between 2007 and 2010 and bounced back after that.
Hobbs, though, is all in with Stringer.
"I'm 100 percent committed to Vivian," Hobbs told Gannet New Jersey. "Just two years ago, we won the WNIT. Obviously this season wasn't what we wanted in terms of results, but you had two of our players get picked in the WNBA Draft. I don't think Vivian has lost anything on her fastball, and we just need to support her."
Stringer also believes she is still able to make things happen. "My passion for coaching remains as strong as ever and it's a honor to continue guiding the young ladies that will receive an excellent Rutgers education and compete for the Scarlet Knights," Stringer said.
Pat Hobbs hasn't made too many - if any - missteps since he came on board. I'm thinking he may know what he's doing here, too.