Jirsa continuing with business amid rumors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ron Jirsa is continuing with business as usual. He has no other choice. It’s his job.

At least, he hopes it’s still his job.

As Jirsa prepares for next season not knowing if he will even have a next season at Marshall, speculation has already begun regarding his successor.

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That’s nothing new for Jirsa. Last year there was talk of buying out his final season and making a bid to hire Bob Huggins.

But paying Jirsa’s salary plus a hefty payday for Huggins was too much for the Mashall purse strings, and it was doubtful Huggins would have taken the job even with the idea he could bring Bill Walker, O.J. Mayo and Patrick Patterson to the Cam Henderson Center.

Jirsa is hoping Marshall’s board of regents look past his 13-18 record and see a very young roster that returns virtually intact and a grueling non-conference schedule this past season, not the cupcake schedule most Conference USA teams elected to play.

Some of the C-USA teams’ non-conference games included Limestone, North Carolina Central, Grambling, Prarie View, Paul Quinn, UT-Permian Basin, Spring Hill, Reinhardt College and Texas College.

Marshall didn’t go for the NAIA teams or household name programs like Paul Quinn.

Jirsa offered no excuses and did not concede the Herd needed to soften its non-league foes.

“I can’t bring myself to say it was too hard. I think we challenged ourselves and we haven’t risen to the level that would have won those games,” Jirsa said.

The Herd coach hopes a year of experience against C-USA and strong non-conference teams will pay off next season. He just hopes he’s still there to find out.

There is a lot of talk in the rumor hotlines that Florida assistant coach Donnie Jones, a graduate of Pikeville (Ky.) College covets the Marshall job. Also, another hot commodity right now is Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall.

Jones may not be the only possible departure at Florida. The Gators may have won the national championship last season, but most of that team will be gone by next season and so might head coach Billy Donovan.

There has been a lot of speculation that Donovan would love the Kentucky job if Tubby Smith resigns to take a pro job (i.e. Charlotte) or is bought out due to threats by major financial contributors to the university they will withhold any money until there is a change.

Yes, Ron Jirsa is continuing business as usual.

And what a business coaching college basketball is.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.