We’ve been down this road before, many times, and it almost always leads nowhere. Once again, Delaware State University is looking for a new football coach and starting over.
Delaware State fired coach Kermit Blount on Monday and athletic director Candy Young said the university will begin a “national search’’ for his successor.
Good luck with that one, because no top coaching candidate would ever consider coming to Dover, which had bad facilities and an even worse track record of success. Plus, the Hornets’ administration has proven that it doesn’t have much patience with its never-ending rebuilding process.
The Hornets haven’t been able to put together a consistent winner since Bill Collick was their coach back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Delaware State won five of the six MEAC championships it has ever won. The Hornets began their resurrection under Collick’s predecessor, Joe Purzycki, but it was Collick who really got things rolling and kept them rolling for several years. For the first time in its history, Delaware State had real consistency and competency.
Then things started to go south, and after Collick resigned after the 1996 season Delaware State opened its revolving door, going through four coaches in 18 years, with just five winning seasons in that time and only one MEAC title – the Hornets under Al Lavan won their conference title in 2007 and then got hammered by Delaware 44-7 in its only appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Lavan appeared to have righted the ship and that stirred up talk in Dover that the Hornets might be ready to leave Division I-AA and move up to Division I, which, in hindsight, would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic. That pie-in-the-sky plan just demonstrated how out-of-touch the administration at Delaware State has been. Move up? Delaware State couldn’t even win consistently in I-AA under four coaches – John McKenzie, Ben Blacknall, Lavan and Blount – and here they are, once again starting over.
It’s hard to argue that Blount should have kept his job, considering how things unraveled this past season – the Hornets finished 2-10 overall and 2-6 in the MEAC, in which they finished 10th, and they lost their last five games, including an embarrassing finale when they were hammered by Morgan State 69-7.
And now somebody new has to come in and pick up the pieces. So, how do the Hornets turn things around? The obvious answer is to recruit better talent, but that won’t be easy considering the school’s long losing history, not to mention the fact that Delaware State probably won’t hire somebody until after the Feb. 4 national signing day for recruits (after all, a “national search’’ takes time), so whoever gets the job will be behind before he even starts.
Still, the ability to recruit should be the No. 1 consideration when looking for Blount’s successor. The Hornets don’t need and Xs and Os genius as much as they need somebody who can lure good players to Dover. And, again, that won’t be easy.
The real shame to this is that the Delaware State and Dover communities have proven they will support a good team and they deserve better than what they’ve gotten over the last 20 years. And now we’ll see what the next 20 years will bring.