Leonard Hamilton is not to be confused with some of his ACC coaching brethren. That is not to say he is a bad coach, but the names that he has to compete with are all-time greats. Coaches like our favorite grumpy old man, Jim Boeheim and conference coaching legend, Mike Krzyzewski, are far and away better coaches than Hamilton. Still — because comparing to legends is unfair — the small backlash to Hamilton’s extension is a little strange.
The fact of the matter is that the ACC is going to be incredibly tough going forward. In fact, the league was already strong before Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame (kinda, sorta) joined the fold. While Hamilton might not be the right man for the job in the long-term, he is certainly needed in the time of conference realignment.
Having the ACC going through such a transition, with such powerful programs, makes the extension a deal out of need. Heck, bringing in a new coach anytime soon would be a risky move. Rebuilding, new era or however you would want to describe a coaching change in the immediate future — as the ACC has established powers — could potentially set the program back a decade.
An arms race in the league is going to happen. With guys like Coach K, Boeheim, Jamie Dixon, Roy Williams and others (yes, unfortunately there is more) already having a strong foothold in the realm of college hoops — Hamilton is going to have a hard enough time trying to keep up with them without an expiring contract looming over his head while trying on the recruiting trail.
The Florida State Seminoles wouldn’t be able to afford to take a risk on an unknown coaching commodity either. At this point in time — specifically due to realignment — Hamilton is the right man for the job. That is regardless of what shortcomings he is perceived to have or the fact that he didn’t land the Internet’s favorite recruit, Andrew Wiggins.
Hamilton is 64 years-old, led the Noles to their first ACC Tournament Title and also took the program to four straight NCAA Tournament births. Ignore the financials of it all. The money isn’t as important as the treacherous league which awaits the program.
It might not be so much as ‘Keeping up with the Jones’, although, it is nearly the same theory.
The extension only runs through the 2016-17 season. The idea that FSU can’t storm the ACC with Hamilton is silly to begin with. Given the fact that his extension isn’t other-worldly long, it gives the program just enough stability over just enough time to have a fair shot battling recruits, conference realignment and giving Hamilton one more chance at giving the program another solid run.
And hey, if it fails, so what? The program will recover over time.
Because of conference realignment and the ACC taking in basketball powers this isn’t about 2017 anyway, it is about right now — and right now, Leonard Hamilton might not be the ‘right man’ for the job, but he may be the only one.
Joseph is the editor of ChopChat. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow him on the mean streets of Twitter @JosephNardone