It is only Tuesday and the Mavericks are having a pretty big news worthy week for mid-July. Former track athlete Sami Spenner competed in the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials over the weekend, the men’s soccer season-ticket scarves are out, men’s basketball landed a local commit, oh, and the baseball coach was fired at what seemed to be random.
Weird is the only word that really came to mind when I heard about the Bob Herold firing. After the first year of being post season eligible, the timing just seemed completely off for a coach who seemed to be completely thrilled with the challenges of becoming a growing project of a division one baseball program, even though Herold was in his 60s when the transition was announced.
One of the things of what seemed so off about the firing was that this did not appear to be anything in relation to Herold’s performance as a baseball coach. Herold’s .464 winning percentage since transition was the second highest at UNO behind (now former) softball’s Jeanne Scarpello out of the Maverick coaches that lasted at least 4 seasons. Herold also guided his program to two regular season championships in his first two seasons of officially being in the Summit League.
In no way do I think that women’s soccer coach Don Klosterman or volleyball coach Rose Shires should be let go, but neither have had the success that Bob Herold had at UNO since transition. Granted, Herold had just a little more time to adjust to division one with his program being a spring sport. Let me say it again, in no way do I think Klosterman or Shires should be let go.
I admit that when I heard of the firing my brain immediately went to the route of: they must have some new lofty goals with the spring sports. This is what my Creighton basketball loving/Husker football loving/Husker basketball hating friends have conditioned me for. I’m not saying they were right or wrong, but when Nebraska made the move to the Big 10 and Pinnacle Bank Arena, those friends presumed that Doc Sadler was going to get fired only because Nebraska “wanted to start fresh.” He got fired, so maybe they were right.
With the only UNO coaches with wins over Creighton or Nebraska now out as head coaches, either by choice or not, I wondered if the pressures of division one became too much with administration expecting more out of each program wanting to build more revenues for a new baseball/softball complex in the works. Or, if in Herold’s case, Trev Alberts saw Coastal Carolina of the Big South win the NCAA baseball championship among a field that was scripted to be nothing but ACC and SEC teams, and thought to himself that with a few tweeks, UNO baseball could be right there. Actually UNO has been literally in that stadium where Coastal Carolina, but you get it.
I didn’t spend much time thinking if the pressures became too much for baseball and softball, both coaching staffs knew what they were getting into when transition happened, but both baseball and softball lost their first Summit League tournament games in dramatic fashion after having late leads.
This is what my brain had to paint a picture of since the few initial reports were basically just: Coach fired just because, interim guy could be fun…
The baseball/softball complex comes to mind because it is something that UNO threw into some future renderings of the university that still have not come about. Also, when I was on Student Government and Trev was new to the job, he came and asked us why students weren’t going to sporting events and I had to tell him that I really liked UNO sports but I seriously had no idea where the baseball team played. Like, I knew it was off campus and probably in Boys Town, but I had no idea how to get there. Then everyone in Student Government awkwardly nodded their heads in agreement. I think I actually went some time assuming UNO did not actually play some of their baseball games and that the UNO coaching staff just called another MIAA or NCC coaching staff and agreed on some stats over the phone and flipped a coin for wins.
Still, who wouldn’t want UNO to have a new baseball/softball complex? I’d much rather go to a baseball game near the Aksarben area where UNO fans could potentially tailgait. Or go to a softball game and not worry that I am going to get a flat tire or have a high chance of having my car’s windshield smashed in with little league softball and baseball games surrounding the entire parking lot.
The interim tag on Evan Porter added even more mysteriousness to the situation. We’re only a few weeks separated from the 2016 season and the 2017 play does not start until late February; so why officially name an Interim Coach when interested candidates could be sending in their resumes to UNO in the following weeks? Hell, I wondered if some big name available baseball coach called Trev Alberts and asked if he had any openings just to mess with Trev’s head. It just seems odd with no interim tag being placed on any softball coach. Sitting on this took away some of my initial thoughts that Alberts just had someone out there in mind that he wanted to throw a job offer to right away.
Then later in the day, there is some reporting mixed into this that Herold had an altercation with a player on the team bus after a loss to Nebraska. Which seems like it is really nothing since the firing came exactly two months after the loss. Athletic Administrations have to do actual investigations into these instances, which apparently take up a lot of time. So maybe that did play a role in the firing, but Herold always came off as one of the nicest and well spoken coaches at UNO, so as a fan it is not something I can really put a lot of weight into until someone in athletics says that is exactly why the firing took place.