Tom Herrion just never got it. He never understood that he was following a legend in John Kresse and that the legacy deserved a certain amount of respect.
He never played to the loyal Cougars fans who wanted, needed and demanded special attention.
He never figured out that Charleston is a unique place where just winning games is not nearly enough.
He never considered the fact that character counted as much in recruiting as vertical leap.
He never became part of the College of Charleston community, because he never figured out how to get along with people outside of basketball.
He never earned the respect of the school's administration, faculty and support staff that could have been a valuable ally.
He never caught on with the student body.
He never seemed to genuinely enjoy his job.
He never had much more than an adversarial relationship with the media.
Oh yeah, and he never won enough games.
Because of all that, any other problems Herrion had with the administration snowballed and eventually cost him his job.
The fact that Herrion was released in June only complicates an already complicated story.
Timing is a key issue in this scenario, because nobody fires a basketball coach this late unless faced with an unfixable problem.
Where and when the College will find its next basketball coach is the overriding question among Cougars fans at this point.
Obviously, turmoil is not something the College of Charleston basketball program is accustomed to dealing with. The school enjoyed incredible success for 23 years under Kresse, as the program won an NAIA national title in 1983 before transitioning into NCAA Division I status in the early 1990s.
That's when Kresse turned the tiny school into a giant killer by knocking off big-name schools with regularity and taking the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament four times and the NIT twice.
But change brought controversy where there had been none before.
From the moment Herrion was hired by newly appointed school president Lee Higdon, he was considered an outsider and did little to dispel that notion.
He and Higdon seemed to think they were doing the little school on George Street a big favor by taking them to a higher level.
Now, four years later, both men are gone and the College is left with a basketball program in shambles and a big buyout bill to pay.
So now what?
Obviously, the best thing the College can do is find a way to return to its roots.
If the athletic department ever hopes to recover from this downturn, they need to make some important decisions. And quick.
Forget asking Kresse to return as an interim coach. The 63-year-old coach is comfortable in his position as a fundraiser for the College and would be foolish to take on this team and take the chance of smudging his legacy.
The next obvious step is to reach into the file of former Kresse assistant coaches and regain some of the momentum the program has lost.
That will not be easy, considering most basketball coaches are under contract by this time of year.
Indeed, it is a problem that the school brought upon itself and now must figure out a way to solve. How they do it could determine the future of a school going through some serious growing pains.
Not a good fit
As for Herrion, what can we say?
Many of us knew early on that he was not a good fit.
He had many opportunities to connect with the school and the community and he just didn't. Or couldn't.
Loyal fans were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a while. But when you're not winning enough games and your players are showing up on the police blotter, you need friends and Herrion simply didn't have any.
No doubt this will hurt everybody involved.
Sure, Herrion will get a big buyout, but money is just money.
As a coach, he has to find another job.
As a school, the College has to heal from within and try not to make the same mistake again.
Reach Ken Burger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5598.