In interviews over the past month, former interim University of Hawaii men’s basketball coach Benjy Taylor has continued to bemoan the school’s April decision not to hire him.
In the latest episode Monday, from the floor of a Honolulu car dealership where he now works, Taylor told Hawaii News Now, “No explanation that they would give would make any sense. Fourth most wins in school history, one senior, no one expected us to do anything. We galvanized the team, we galvanized the community.”
You can appreciate the job that Taylor did holding the team together amid the bombshell ouster of Gib Arnold and the fractious uncertainty of an ongoing NCAA investigation. There is no doubting he put his heart and energy into the task. And you can recognize the disappointment that wracked him at seeing the permanent job go to a younger, less experienced Eran Ganot.
But here we are three months past Ganot’s introduction as the head coach and it is time to move on already.
Ganot would not have been our first choice among the avowed and inquiring candidates, either, but that dog-eared page has long since been turned. A new coaching staff has been hired, some new players signed and the program builds toward a rapidly approaching new season and, hopefully, a string of brighter postseasons.
Some of Taylor’s disappointment might better be directed toward the fateful decision to reject UH’s January offer of a one-year extension. Whether it was his alone or made upon the recommendation of outside counsel, it was questionable at the time and has been made to look even more so by subsequent events.
Taylor understandably wanted the job security of a multi-year contract. But by turning down UH’s offer he was gambling that he could deliver a compelling enough finish to assure one.
Perhaps, after that 12-4 start through nonconference competition and mid-season Hugh Durham Award for mid-major programs, he thought the odds unbeatable.
In his interview with HNN, Taylor also said, “We had four ADs in five seasons and with the same middle management. There are 350 other Division I schools, it would never happen.”
Having been on board through the tumultuous period he was in a position to know well the uncertainty surrounding the hiring of the next AD. Remember the official AD job announcement wasn’t even published until after Taylor had turned down the contract and Dave Matlin said it was only later that he came around to the idea of applying.
Signing that extension would have at least given Taylor some insurance to fall back on no matter who got the position.
Matlin, who was recommended for the job in mid-March, said if Taylor’s extension had been in place he would have likely honored it into the 2015-16 season. That statement rings true because about the last thing a new AD coming aboard pledging financial responsibility would have wanted to be caught doing was buying out a six-figure contract right off the bat.
Meanwhile, UH has moved on and the question of whether the school’s best interests were served by bypassing Taylor is something that will be determined by time and results.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820.