Bobby Jones’ nine-year coaching career at St. Francis mercifully ended Monday night with the confirmation of his resignation.
While the guess here is the school would have opened the job had he not resigned, credit Jones for taking the high road.
Coaching changes in college sports shouldn’t take place unless they are obviously needed, and this change was obviously needed.
There simply was no hope of a program restoration that could approach sustained respectability — not when Jones won a total of 18 games (4-24, 8-21 and 6-23) in years seven, eight and nine of his tenure.
Clearly, he was given every chance. Consider that the number of games he coached — 252— is exceeded only in school history by Skip Hughes’ 500.
Jones’ overall record (85-167) and winning percentage (.338) are the worst in St. Francis history of coaches with a multiple-year tenure.
Somehow, though, Jones managed to convince the administration along the way, presumably before he went 4-24, that deserved a long-term contract.
That might have been his greatest victory, given that he failed to qualify for the Northeast Conference playoffs in five of his nine years, including the last three seasons, and he never won an NEC playoff game.
A case can be made that this could/should have happened a couple of years ago, but Jones benefited from changes in St. Francis’ administration as school president Father Gabriel Zeis replaced Father Christian Oravec in 2004 and athletic director Bob Krimmel took over after Jeff Eisen left in 2005.
Those moves, in the interest of a clean slate, probably bought Jones a couple years. Plus he does have an upside: He’s very likeable and personable. He assembled his share of talent, and he used his connections well enough to schedule attractively.
He consistently represented the university well, too — until, that is, his teams took the floor.
There, his lack of strategical savvy and inability to improve players, gave the opponent an advantage that the Red Flash could not overcome.
In a league where the talent is often pretty much equal — evidenced again this year by St. Francis winning at regular-season champion Robert Morris and playing the runnerup, Wagner, to double overtime — coaching becomes magnified, and Jones didn’t measure up.
This had to be a tough move for Krimmel, given that his son Rob is an assistant coach, and he handled it with sensitivity.
Jones could have been cut loose immediately after the season in order to better search for his next job, but his resignation allowed him to do it more on his terms and with the same grace as he conducted just about every interview for the past nine years.
With his personality and recruiting ability, he would make a good assistant coach, perhaps in the Big Ten or Big East like he was before.
Let’s hope Bobby Jones lands on his feet.
And let’s hope St. Francis gets it right this time.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.