Fordham's Jeff Neubauer Offers Passionate Defense of Program and School

Charles Costello@@CFCostelloContributor IMay 23, 2015

Mar 8, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Eastern Kentucky Colonels head coach Jeff Neubauer during the second half against the Belmont Bruins in the championship game of the Ohio Valley Conference basketball tournament at Nashville Memorial Auditorium. Eastern Kentucky won 79-73. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Don't tell Fordham head basketball coach Jeff Neubauer that you can't win at Rose Hill.

Four coaches—Nick Macarchuk, Bob Hill, Dereck Whittenburg and Tom Pecora—have had success elsewhere but weren't able to get it done at Fordham. Neubauer is next up. And while he's aware of the past, he's not dwelling on it. Instead, he's using it to help build the future.

"I shouldn't say I'm not spending any time thinking about that because that is part of the process of trying to understand what will work here, what we need to do to be successful," Neubauer told Bleacher Report during an interview in his office earlier this month. "But it's not for me to dwell on the past. It's for me to paint a picture to recruits, and our current players, as far as where I see this program is right now. 

"We're not sugarcoating anything with recruits. Fordham basketball has struggled big time over the last several years. What I need to do is show the young guys in this program, and the guys we bring in, how to win."

It will be a monumental task. Since Fordham joined the Atlantic 10 Conference prior to the 1995 season, it's finished above .500 just once. The Rams' conference record is a paltry 76-246 during that time.

Neubauer isn't the first to think he has the answers, and he might not be the last. He's just the latest to take the Fordham challenge.

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"It's my job as the head coach to have answers," Neubauer said. "What that means exactly, I'm not sure, but we're going to find answers as far as how we win games here at Fordham."

You have to admire his confidence. At Fordham, there have been questions about the gym, the budget, the commitment and more. Neubauer isn't buying any of it. In fact, when talking with B/R, he spoke passionately and boldly about all things Fordham.

"People talk about the facilities here at Fordham," Neubauer said. "I love the Rose Hill Gym. It's got so much personality, so much character. There's no need to compare it to any other facility. We can win with this facility."

He added: "Fordham's campus—absolutely incredible. Is there another campus in New York City that even compares to this?"

As B/R previously reported, Neubauer is confident he can land the talent Fordham will need to compete in the A-10.

"I've only been here a month," he said. "We've been very successful already selling New York City, this beautiful campus and the opportunity to compete in the A-10. To me, that's a pretty intriguing package."

When Fordham fired Pecora in March, recurring questions about the school's membership in the A-10, facilities and resources emerged. It's been a familiar storyline in the Bronx, one that Neubauer dismissed.

"So much of that is just absolutely ridiculous," he said. "It's just crazy.

"This campus is awesome, New York City is as dynamic as any city in the world and we're competing in a league that over the last five years has 21 NCAA tournament bids. Let's start with those positives."

He continued: "There's been a lot of talk about budgetary issues here. I have seen every aspect of Fordham's basketball budget. Fordham is doing everything necessary to win. To try to blame it on the budget doesn't make any sense. Fordham is doing the right things as far as winning."

He wasn't done.

"Is this the right conference?" Neubauer asked. "Absolutely, the Atlantic 10 is the right conference.

"It's absolutely ludicrous for anyone associated with Fordham to mention that there should be a different conference. Personally, I would not be here at Fordham if Fordham were in a different league. The great thing that Fordham has going for it right now is that the A-10 is as powerful, and more powerful, than some of the Big 5 conferences. The fact that 21 teams have gone from the A-10 to the NCAA tournament, that's what attracted me here more than anything.

"Am I thrilled to be a coach in New York City? Absolutely. Am I thrilled to take over a program that's struggled and it's a great challenge?

"But the No. 1 reason I took this job is that Fordham competes in the A-10."

Now if only the Rams could win. Neubauer thinks they can.

Quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.

Follow Charles Costello on Twitter: @CFCostelloA full archive of his articles can be found here