Friday, March 23, 2007

Deus ex machina at the Barn

From our pals at Wikipedia:

Deus ex machina is a Latin phrase that is used to describe an unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot (e.g., having the protagonist wake up and realize it was all a dream, or an angel suddenly appearing to solve problems). The phrase has been extended to refer to any resolution to a story which does not pay due regard to the story's internal logic and is so unlikely that it challenges suspension of disbelief, allowing the author to conclude the story with an unlikely, though more palatable, ending. In modern terms the deus ex machina has also come to describe a being, object or event that suddenly appears and solves a seemingly insoluble difficulty, where the author has "painted the characters into a box" that they cannot easily be extricated from (e. g., the cavalry coming to the rescue). A classic example of the use of this type of deus ex machina is in Homer's Odyssey; a more contemporary example is in Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain. The device is a type of twist ending.

Give this much to Joel Maturi; he’s definitely showing himself to be an “out of the box” thinker. Forget the Odyssey or The Andromeda Strain; hiring Tubby Smith away from Kentucky has to be the best example yet.

Minnesota basketball fans have been pretty patient since the 1999 academic scandal that torpedoed Clem Haskins. Dan Monson is a very nice man and ran a clean program, but the Gophers have been a pretty rank (and unranked) outfit in recent years. Lately coaches of big time programs have been raiding Minnesota for talent with impunity; Marquette, Wisconsin and Michigan State have all extricated blue chip talent from the state without much of a struggle.

That should change now. Tubby Smith has a lot of credibility in his profession for his coaching acumen. His teams are generally athletic and play excellent defense. He has won a national title. He has a reputation for integrity and class that is second to none. He is a proven winner. But if he wants to succeed, he needs to recruit well and keep Bo Ryan, Tom Crean, Tom Izzo et al. out of the state. It will take about two years to see what kind of impact he will have. But considering the box the Gophers have been in, he’s definitely the type of guy who could change things in a hurry. I may have to take back some of the nasty things I’ve said about Joel Maturi….


Anonymous said...

It's probably not deserved, but Tubby escaped Lexington one step ahead of the executioner. He got to put it in the face of an unrealistic Kentucky Alumni base, and buy himself several more years of top pay (makes one wonder if Steve Alford was UM's second choice). Howdy Doody could recruit at Kentucky. The larger question is can Tubby recruit at Minnesota? Facility issues remain, and these will have to be resolved before Minnesota can be considered a destination. The Sid Harman's and people of his era may love barns, but most recuits know that barns are for farm animals. It's still a nice move by Maturi, who should be able to collect athletic director paychecks for several more years.

Mark said...

I agree with you, anonymous. Tubby's biggest job will be recruiting. The talent base in Minnesota is improving but it is probably not sufficient to field a nationally competitive team. Tubby has lots of contacts around the country and he'll need all of them to make this work.