Dykes Decision

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 115 views 

Come on, admit it. You scratched your head at least once when you heard former ESPN basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes had been named head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Arkansas.

We here at Whispers sure did. Dykes hasn’t coached in over 20 years, has never been a head coach and has never coached the women’s game. Whispers kind of felt like Gino Auriemma, the revered University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach, who, according to the Associated Press, sniffed that the hire was “outside the box.”

Well, Whispers thinks we’ve figured out why, at least in part, the decision was made to hire Dykes. His hire was announced on March 30, a Sunday, and by the end of the week, The Razorback Foundation, the university’s fundraising arm for athletics, had pumped out a mass email from Coach Dykes asking people for their support. And at the press conference announcing his hire, he told reporters, “No one can sell this program, sell the University of Arkansas, sell the state of Arkansas, better than Jimmy Dykes.”

But is it about sales or is it about coaching women’s basketball?

If Dykes does well on the court then it’s a given he’ll be able to raise money for the foundation. Everyone likes to back a winner. But if in a year or two the team is still struggling, it’s hard to imagine Dykes having too much pull in Fayetteville.

Auriemma, who just won his ninth NCAA title at UConn, just broke what was once thought to be an insurmountable record — the great Pat Summitt’s eight national titles at the University of Tennessee.

All that to say that, these days, when it pertains to women’s college basketball, people have to listen to what Auriemma has to say. And when — referring to Dykes — he tells the Associated Press that “a lot of people will be watching pretty closely,” you have to think he’s right.