I'm trying to come to grips with what just happened with the men's basketball program at St. Francis University.
Don Friday's resignation as Red Flash head coach was confirmed Wednesday night. Whether it was really a resignation or Friday was told his keys would no longer work is not totally clear, but either way, it's understandable.
Friday made almost no progress in four seasons, posting a 32-86 record.
St. Francis permitted Bobby Jones, whose record (85-167) was only slightly better than Friday's, to languish nine years before that relationship mercifully ended in 2008.
So a reluctance to make the same mistake twice can be justified.
What followed less than 24 hours later, however, cannot be.
They said it
* "We've talked about it and analyzed it, and I don't think we'll know until we go through a year together. But I really don't think it is going to be as difficult as a lot of people think. Maybe that's just me being naive as the new athletic director because I think the sky's the limit and everything's going to be strawberries and cream as we go through it."
- Bob Krimmel on questions of conflict of interest upon his hiring as St. Francis AD on June 30, 2005
* ''I recruited Rob in high school ... and we maintained a friendship and respect when he was a player [at St. Francis]."
- Don Friday on announcing the retention of Rob Krimmel on May 15, 2008
* ''We made the hire that was the best for St. Francis University to lead our basketball program. If Rob Krimmel is part of Don's staff, then Rob Krimmel is part of Don's staff. ... It's not because of his dad and the position. I know it's hard for people to see because it's just the natural assumption.''
- Bob Krimmel on the hiring of new basketball coach Don Friday on May 15, 2008
Without even a search, St. Francis announced Thursday that its new head coach is longtime assistant coach Rob Krimmel.
Krimmel is the son of St. Francis athletic director Bob Krimmel, and this hiring is all about nepotism and should not be tolerated.
There is no other Division I school in America - let alone one with St. Francis' great tradition - that could orchestrate the promotion of the assistant who has been riding shotgun for 12 years, through the dismissals of two coaches and a combined 107-235 record.
Or maybe that's it: Maybe St. Francis, having dug its way into oblivion for the past 20 years since Jim Baron, Mike Iuzzolino and Joe Anderson & Co. led the trip to the NCAA Tournament in 1991, no longer feels it has to justify anything to anyone.
Maybe its fan base is that small, and there aren't enough people who care to question how Krimmel, the father, can get away with this, and how Father Gabriel Zeis, the school's president whose head must be buried to his shoulders in the sand, can possibly let him.
(And please don't give me that Bob Krimmel, the father, removed himself from the decision-making process. Even if Zeis wanted to give the job to Rob Krimmel, the son, Bob Krimmel, the father, should have stopped it.)
Rob Krimmel, the son, is a great young man. I've had the pleasure of knowing him and his family for 15-plus years. And it's not out of the realm of possibility that he'll be a significant upgrade - not that he has a tough act, or acts, to follow.
But his resume doesn't show that.
In addition to the revolving-door personnel, St. Francis hasn't even recruited its backyard and allowed the likes of Drew Shubik (North Star), Steve Catich (Tyrone) and Jordan Miller (Central Cambria) - three kids who could have played well in Loretto - to go elsewhere.
Not everything is the head coach's fault, but this decision suggests otherwise. It suggests the head coach could neither recruit nor strategize, but his top assistant was worthy of the throne.
Here's what it also shows: a total lack of commitment to the once-proud men's program.
Krimmel, the father, was reluctant to pull the plug on Jones, even when it was clear he could not do the job. Was it because he couldn't manage a situation involving his son? When he came to St. Francis, Krimmel, the father, assured that would not be the case.
Further, they aren't the only Krimmels in the SFU athletic department as John, Rob's youngest brother, serves as the school's assistant director of athletics for student-athlete academic services. John's wife also works for the university.
So what we've really got here is Krimmel U., and the kind of father-son situation that we were forced to endure for too long in the Penn State football program.
And where did Bob Krimmel, the father, earn his stripes as a longtime swim coach and assistant athletic director before becoming St. Francis athletic director in 2005? That's right: Penn State, for 32 years.
It's also quite curious why we've not heard yet about the successor to SFU women's coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl, who left last week to become head coach at Providence.
The St. Francis women's program has a winning track record, and Fruchtl was an excellent hire by Krimmel, the father. Internal succession could be justified in that case, but it hasn't happened. Applications are still being sorted, and the process is expected to go another couple of weeks.
Why has Krimmel, the father, tripped over himself to name his son as the men's head coach while the women's position remains open? Is women's basketball now more important (or is that obvious?)
After the men's team had apparently quit on Friday - and Rob Krimmel, the son - for the second straight year, why would Krimmel, the father, wait for two months, through the Final Four where valuable networking could have been done and a fresh hire made?
Not to mention the courtesy of giving Friday more time and a better chance to land on his feet as an assistant somewhere else.
Is this the twilight of his tenure and the last, desperate gasp of Krimmel, the father, to get his son the job?
Unless this is a money issue, which it could be (except that St. Francis, like many area colleges, is blessed with wonderful benefactors), there are hundreds of coaches, some with St. Francis ties, who would have loved the opportunity two months ago and this morning.
Just look at those from the 1991 team: Joe Lombardi has had a very good run as IUP's head coach. John Sanow has made progress at Bloomsburg. Iuzzolino, whose story of determination just added completion of the Boston Marathon, has been an assistant coach at St. Vincent College for three years.
Further back, Jeff Bower, former head coach and general manager of the New Orleans Hornets, has long pined for a college job. Heck, even Dave Magarity, the head women's coach at Army, would be worth a call to end up his career where it all began.
And what of Doug West? I'm not sure if he wants to be a head coach, but he's built a nice resume at Villanova as an assistant under Jay Wright.
Each, along with countless other coaching hopefuls, would be more deserving - and more appealing to the fans, unless the games are moving back to Doyle Hall - than an in-house rubber stamp who is only getting the job because his dad is the boss.
We all love our kids, of course: But this is why these situations don't work - and it's a reason I was hoping Rob Krimmel, the son, would have gone after the Penn State Altoona job when it opened three years ago. He could have stayed in the area with his family, had a soft landing and, presumably, done a good job.
Instead, the seeds of nepotism were sown, and Bob Krimmel, the father, has cemented his legacy in Loretto.
Those of us who remember when St. Francis men's basketball mattered can not be more disappointed - in Bob Krimmel, the father, in the St. Francis administration and particularly in Zeis.
When he was hired, before he was formally introduced - and you can look this up - Don Friday's first act was to appoint Rob Krimmel, the son, to the staff.
Maybe that's why Friday got the job in the first place.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He has covered or followed St. Francis basketball since the late 1970s.