College Basketball: Dear Northwestern, Hire Brad Stevens Right Now

Elliott SmithCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 05:  Head coach Brad Stevens of the Butler Bulldogs looks on in the first half while taking on the Duke Blue Devils during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Duke won 61-59.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Dear Northwestern,

Elliott Smith, Class of 1997 here, making a small request as my beloved alma mater wraps up another disappointing basketball season for about the 70th year in a row. Sure, we played well against Ohio State, but that and $2.49 might get you a coffee at Starbucks.

You know how you call me almost every single night, under the pretense of finding out what I want from my university, but in actuality you're begging me for money? Well, I’m writing this to tell you what I really want from NU. 

I want you to fire Bill Carmody—like, right now—get on the phone to Butler’s Brad Stevens and do whatever it takes to make him the next coach of the Northwestern Wildcats.

Oh, you want to tell me how much you like Carmody? How the Cats have improved during his 11-year tenure? Look, when I was in school, we made the NIT and it was thrilling. But that was 15 years ago. Making the NIT field for three straight years isn’t cause for celebration in 2011.

The Carmody experiment has run its course, and to be frank, it ran a few years too long. I don’t care that you signed him to the most ill-suited contract extension in college basketball history, it’s time for him to hit the bricks. 

There’s simply NO excuse why we shouldn’t be able to realistically compete for an NCAA tournament berth, and you have to blame coaching for that. Plus, even though the TV guys go out of their way to kiss Carmody’s ass, the guy hasn’t shown me he’s the coaching genius he’s been purported to be. How else can you explain why we can’t break a trap? Or draw up halfway decent plays in crunch time?

You say we went 18-13 this year? Big whoop, when you consider that our non-conference schedule, filled with the Directional States and Obscure Us of the country, was one of the worst in college basketball. There’s a reason why an 18-13 Michigan State team is on the bubble and we’ve never been in the conversation. Because they actually play good teams. Imagine that!

But anyway, Northwestern, back to my request. Brad Stevens. You know the guy: young, dynamic coach at Butler who took the Bulldogs to the championship game last year? Yeah, him.

This is the guy we need to turn the program around, to rid us of laughingstock status when tourney time rolls around. I live in Washington, DC—I shouldn’t be reading stories in the local paper about our tournament futility. Stevens has proven that he can do more with less, and moving to the Big 10 (12) will only increase his stature and ability to recruit the fertile Chicago area that you have ignored over the years.

You want to let me know that Stevens signed a contract extension through 2021? And? I know you have the money to get Butler to let Stevens go and sign him to a lucrative deal that won’t make him miss Indy. Your endowment last year was $6.3 billion, so I think you’ve got some wiggle room there.

You think Tavares Hardy might make a good coach? Maybe. I’ve got nothing against Hardy—he’s actually been a decent recruiter and I would hope Stevens keeps him around—but hiring him as the head coach would be the kind of zero-reward move Northwestern has been making for years.

It’s time to make a splash, time to move forward with someone who can energize the tepid fan base, the purple-seated donors and the bitter alums like myself.

Brad Stevens, Northwestern. Make it happen. Until then, don’t bother calling me.