Turnover could be good for Phoenix

Last night, with the Phoenix at the end of an impressive run that included two NIT appearances and two of the best five players to ever suit up in Christmas colors, head coach Brian Wardle took a ride out of town and landed with Bradley University. To many schools, changeover from a successful coach – and Wardle was the most successful coach at Green Bay since Dick Bennett – is absolutely devastating.

That shouldn’t be the case for the Green Bay Phoenix. There are plenty of names out there, from Gary Grzesk at St. Norbert’s down the street to T.J. Otzelberger at the University of Washington. There’s certainly a glut of available head coaches with major success at lower division levels. Drew Diener, Pat Miller, Bob Semling and more will be interested in the job.

Most, if not all, would be an improvement in my eyes over Brian Wardle. He’s a good coach, worthy of the hire at Bradley, but he seemed to always have one foot out of the door. I don’t know if Green Bay will ever get a guy who doesn’t look at the job like a stepping stone, but with Gary Grzesk you know you’re getting a coach who loves his alma mater. That will probably buy them a couple years extra before he moves up to the next job.

Green Bay will always be an incredible stepping stone of a job because it is in a good conference that is winnable but the pay is low in comparison to other conference schools. Due to this, the program will see turnover faster and to lower level schools. For instance, Milwaukee has lost its last two coaches to Wisconsin and Tennessee, whereas Green Bay has lost its last two coaches to Toledo and Bradley. Does that mean that Tod Kowalczyk and Wardle wouldn’t get better offers? Of course not, but it means they were willing to jump at lesser opportunities. Coach Rob Jeter, on the other hand, turned down Bradley when they hired Geno Ford, offered a similar package to the one that Brian Wardle just took.

Knowing this, Green Bay has to take advantage of everything they can with their next coach. Gary Grzesk is an alum who played during the Dick Bennett title years, and he’ll get fans in the area excited about Phoenix basketball perhaps more than they ever did during the Kowalczyk and Wardle regimes. That should buy them one or two more years with him at the helm versus a similarly successful coach with no ties to the school.

So make the right hire, GB. Grzesk won’t even have to move, so at the very least you’ll save that expense.

As for Wardle, we just want to post the great meme one more time in your honor. Congratulations, sir:


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