clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What does Mark Turgeon need to do to get off the fans' hot seat?

Maryland's fourth-year head coach has not yet made the NCAA Tournament, and the fans are understandably restless.

Mark Turgeon, entering his fourth year at Maryland, has yet to make the NCAA Tournament. Is he on the hot seat this season?
Mark Turgeon, entering his fourth year at Maryland, has yet to make the NCAA Tournament. Is he on the hot seat this season?
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Is Mark Turgeon on the hot seat? It's a fair question.

My answer: It depends on which hot seat you're asking about.

Turgeon is definitely on the hot seat with a significant portion of the fan base, and deservedly so. Maryland fancies itself a basketball school, and Turgeon's tenure has, from just about any perspective imaginable, been unsatisfactory. He won 17 games, then 25, then 17 again. He hasn't made an NCAA Tournament and he's only made the NIT field once. He's been riddled with transfers and other defections. 

The fans demand better. And they should.

So Turgeon starts his fourth campaign on the proverbial hot seat with Maryland fans and probably with local and national media, too. But is he on the actual hot seat? Is his job on the line this winter? That's where it gets interesting.

Turgeon was signed in 2011 to a whopping eight-year contract, valued at $1.9 million annually. If he were terminated after this season, for whatever reason, Maryland would be on the hook for more than $7.5 million and that's before they'd have to open their wallets to find a new coach. Firing Mark Turgeon, regardless of how anyone feels about it, would be really bad for business and it would also be the admission of a colossal failure by the athletic director and by the university itself.

In other words, it's not going to happen unless some type of disaster scenario strikes -- such as a lopsided losing record or another tidal wave of transfers. Those might be dire enough to send Turgeon packing, contract be damned.

The more realistic scenario is that Maryland is married to Mark Turgeon and vice versa, no matter how anyone feels about it. So the real question is, what does he have to do this season to win back the fanbase?

Well, win, of course. But how much winning will do the trick?

I actually view this as a pretty simple question to answer. Mark Turgeon's Terps need to make the NCAA Tournament and that's the only thing that will quiet down all the noise. Anything short of that, NIT or less, and he still won't have the fanbase behind him.

Maryland fans, above all else, are dying for the team to be relevant again, and the Big Dance is the black-and-white fault line between teams that matter and teams that don't. Maryland needs to matter, period.

Should Turgeon fall short of the tourney, there will be disclaimers and excuses at the ready. A true freshman point guard, for one. Youth and inexperience at center, to name another. And I'm not exactly sure who's going to be grabbing all the rebounds either, as long as we're raising questions about the makeup of the team.

Yes, there are roster questions, many of them youth related, that could serve as an alibi of sorts for Turgeon if he can't lead Maryland back to prominence this season. To that, though, I say phooey. Turgeon spent all that capital last year. There are no more excuses.

Take the Terps dancing, Turge, or else Terp Nation is going to turn on you in full force.