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Roundtables: New MBB HC Mark Fox Initial Reactions

First thoughts off the bat?

Your first reaction to Mark Fox being hired as the new MBB coach?

Reef: In a now outdated and probably never to be published roundtable from last week, boomtho predicted that we would not go for an “unproven high upside” candidate, but rather that we would opt for a “safe” choice. That’s exactly what happened. Last week I had the following reaction to his prediction, and it hasn’t changed now that we know the coach: “I fear boomtho is absolutely right about the type of candidate the committee will gravitate toward. Which makes me hurt down at the bottom of my already diseased basketball heart. My personal philosophy is you should always choose the highest upside course, because you shouldn’t be in the game to be mediocre. You play to win. But we won’t--we’ll play to avoid failing miserably, and we’ll end up with exactly what we deserve. Probably.” Fox is competent. He won’t put up the worst seasons in program history. He won’t get caught in FBI investigations. If that’s what the administration was looking for then, well, they got their guy.

Nik Jam: Like all my fellow CGBers I am skeptical that he gives the Bears a chance at Pac-12 titles, NCAA bids and Championships. He is a proven HC with some high-profile endorsements and a fairly good history, though, and he should get a real chance to prove us wrong. At the very least, I would consider investing money in either season tickets (only because I still qualify for the $99 young alum package for another three seasons) or a Haasport if that’s still an option.

Joshua.Morgan: It was definitely a bit of a surprising hire to me at first. This fan base really needed excitement and this hire does not provide that. However, when you look more into it, it makes a bit more sense. Cal needs stability, and Fox should provide that. Also, his oft-mentioned “clean” track record sure sounds like a someone that Jim Knowlton, with his Air Force background, would be drawn to. With that said, I think that it is a boring hire and an average one at that. It shouldn’t blow up in our faces, but it likely won’t be one that we will end up giving an extremely high grade.

boomtho: First reaction: surprise at exactly who was hired, given Fox wasn’t on a lot of people’s short-lists for Cal. To Reef’s comment I was much less surprised by the “type” of hire - a competent, proven HC who has a good chance of returning Cal to the middle of the Pac-12 and a much less clear path to title contention. I do think the early reactions were far too negative about Fox. People were treating his hiring the same as Wyking in some cases, which to me is about 8 bridges too far. Fox has a 15 (!) year track record as an actual head coach, and while folks may not be in love with his record, there at least IS a record - and one of competence and running a steady ship.

thedozen: How much was the search firm paid given that Fox was hired within mere days?

Ruey Yen: I am actually more surprised that so many Cal fans were shocked by the hiring of a Mark Fox-type of coach. We all know that Cal Athletics have no money, which means that the hire will either be an unproven coach or one with a long history of mediocrity; since Cal just got burned by the former, chances of the latter was basically a guarantee.

As for the actual hiring of Mark Fox, I like his reputation for running a clean program. Given potentially more scandals to fallout from NCAA men’s basketball in the near future, not being caught up in that was probably high on Knowlton’s priority list. NCAA and NBA are also about to do away with the whole “one-and-done” thing which should make a major change to the college basketball landscape in the near future.

Rob Hwang: Initially I was confused at the hire. Zero names of actual interviewees leaked. Big names like Jason Kidd were thrown into the ring by association. We didn’t really know who was in the mix or who was actually being considered. Judging by his own 14 years of coaching, Fox will be a solid coach for the players on and off the court. He’ll coach and develop them and from a record stand point his 14 year career points to probably a 4th through 7th finish in the conference every year. That being said. If he actually has learned from his year off and is genuine in his belief that he can improve his own coaching and play styles, and take from the plethora of elite coaches he spent time with during his year off? Maybe he could blow us all away and prove us wrong, and I don’t think anybody in the fan base would mind that at all.