David White

Terry’s not going anywhere. Unfortunately, neither is Fresno State basketball

Fresno State coach Rodney Terry has led the Bulldogs to three consecutive 20-win seasons and four in the past five years. But he’s 0-2 in the NCAA and NIT.
Fresno State coach Rodney Terry has led the Bulldogs to three consecutive 20-win seasons and four in the past five years. But he’s 0-2 in the NCAA and NIT. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Not so fast, Rodney Terry.

You’re not going anywhere, coach. Fresno State’s one-and-overrun at the Mountain West Conference men’s basketball tournament saw to that Thursday.

Terry isn’t ditching Fresno State, and Fresno State isn’t dropping Terry. No one should be mad about that, but anyone who is happy about it has forgotten what it means to be happy.

I’m sorry, you think a quarterfinal exit from the MWC bonanza is a ticket out of town? Are there really better schools out there dying to hire a fourth-place coach from a mid-range conference?

There are worse things out there than a potential Year 8 with Terry. But there’s got to be better than Years 1-7, right?

Terry’s inevitable return is great for those who dig 20-win seasons in the absence of police reports and NCAA investigators. In that regard, Terry sure is no Jerry Tarkanian.

But then, Terry’s return is ungreat for those who are into mid-March victories and Top 25 cameos during the winter. In that regard, Terry is no Tark, either.

And to be clear, these two options don’t have to be either/or. You can have it both ways. Just ask Boyd Grant from back in the day.

Some of you think Terry deserves better than this, what with all the unfolded seats at the Save Mart Center, and all the shoestrings in the budget, and the total lack of an athletics director to lead the fearless way.

We absolutely agree. He wins games, keeps his program off double probation, and travels the Valley to greet the locals during the season. Great guy, nice manners, cookies all around.

Has it occurred to anyone that maybe Fresno State deserves better, too? Given all those unbothered chairs at the Mart, we’ll take that as an absentee vote for heck to the yeah.

Seven years, Terry has been here. He’s tied The Tark for the third-longest reign in the program storybook. And what do we have to show for it when the games really count?

Zero victories in the NCAA Tournament. Only Ed Gregory in the ’70s was given that much time to never win a March Madness game in these parts.

Terry’s Bulldogs have never been nationally ranked. They’ve lost 17 of their last 18 games against Power Five schools (thanks for ruining the winless narrative, Oregon State).

How do you get bounced from the postseason by a team you beat twice in the regular season … two years in a row?

Blame it on injuries all you want. It’s always something, isn’t it?

Here’s the real something: Fresno State can’t fire Terry any more than Terry can find a better job. This is what we’ve got, for better and for not better enough.

Fresno State hit cruise control on the 20-win road to nowhere last year when they extended Terry’s contract into the next decade. The school was that scared to lose a coach who has never won an NCAA or NIT postseason game as a head coach. As in, ever.

They can’t afford to buy him out, just like they can’t afford to not sell tickets at the Save Mart Center. Fresno State gets it coming and going.

Terry made this place his Hotel California – check out when you like, but leaving is unallowed – the minute he decided not to switch to a zone defense during Thursday’s ode to stubbornness. They could have played 6-on-5 basketball and still lost to the Aztecs, but at least they would have tried something other than what was not working.

Terry wins more often than that, but it’s never enough. He, too, gets it this way and that.

Maybe UTEP falls head over sneakers for the guy listed as a candidate by the El Paso Times. Maybe Terry makes #fakenews out of this story by landing a better job covered by better Sunday columnists.

Until then, no one is going anywhere – not to the next town, and not in this town.

Three-point stance

1. Let’s pretend Fresno State men’s basketball coach Rodney Terry gets another job. The school can’t afford a big-name hire that will sell tickets, so what to do? Bring back Melvin Ely, a budding assistant in the NBA G-League, and give him a veteran assistant to coach him up. Instant reconnect with the fans, you’re welcome.

2. The new San Francisco Giants pitching coach, Curt Young, held down that job with the Visalia Oaks back in 1999. Rawhide my eye, long live the Oaks!

3. Sign Richard Sherman. Keep Marshawn Lynch and Michael Crabtree. Trade for Richie Incognito. Come on Raiders, be the Raiders again.

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