Travis Ford & Julie Goodenough are in the NCAA Tournament
Waiting for the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday, I flipped channels but focused primarily on the Atlantic-10 championship. I was pulling for the Saint Louis Billikens against St. Bonaventure. I was pulling for Travis Ford.
And danged if the Billikens didn’t come through, beating the Bonnies 55-53 to make the NCAA Tournament.
But my channel surfing also sent me across a game, and good fortune allowed me to sweep across the Southland Conference women’s championship game at exactly the right time. Normally, I wouldn’t even have waited to see that Abilene Christian was playing Texas-Corpus Christi, but I went past the game at precisely the time the announcers mentioned the Abilene Christian coach. Julie Goodenough.
Yes, the former Oklahoma State coach, from 2002-05. Goodenough’s Wildcats beat Corpus Christi, and there you had it.
OSU’s basketball teams are not in the NCAA Tournament. But Travis Ford and Julie Goodenough are.
Ford’s eight-year run as the Cowboy coach ended after a 12-20 season in which the OSU fan base spoke loud and clear, staying away from Gallagher-Iba Arena. Ford’s product usually was exciting, but the Cowboys never approached the Eddie Sutton-level of success, and Ford, having replaced Sean Sutton as head coach, always was trailing on the popularity meter.
After a first season of 23-12 that included an NCAA Tournament victory over Tennessee, athletic director Mike Holder gave Ford an infamous 10-year contract, which became a point of contention with the Cowboy fans.
Ford never won another NCAA Tournament game, despite the likes of James Anderson and Marcus Smart and Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash.
Ford’s overall record at OSU was 155-111. He went 1-5 in the NCAAs.
At Saint Louis, Ford has struggled to build a program that was down, going 12-21, 17-16 and 19-12, the latter the record going into Brooklyn last week for the A-10 Tournament. But the Billikens beat Richmond, Dayton, Davidson and St. Bonaventure, four wins in four days as a 6-seed.
I’ll be pulling for Saint Louis in the NCAAs. I always liked Ford. He was good to me, he was good to the media and he was handed a tough deck in Stillwater. His personality didn’t really mesh with the OSU tradition, which wasn’t anyone’s fault, I don’t suppose.
Meanwhile, Goodenough was ill-prepared to become the OSU women’s coach in 2002. The Cowgirls were floundering in the shadow of Sherri Coale’s meteoric rise with OU. The Sooners were in the 2002 NCAA title game, and OSU, quite naturally, thought it needed its own young, sharp female coach.
So Goodenough was hired away from NCAA Division III Hardin-Simmons, where Goodenough had fashioned a record of 187-54. She was only 33. Seemed like a good hire.
But Goodenough never found her recruiting chops. A story making the circles at the time said Goodenough was getting the players she wanted; she just wanted players with meager talent.
OSU went 8-21, 8-20 and 7-20 in Goodenough’s three years, and she resigned under pressure. Kurt Budke was hired and transformed the program.
Goodenough sat out of coaching a year, then became head coach at Charleston Southern, where she spent six years and didn’t do much, going 37-55 in Big South games.
Then Goodenough moved back to Abilene, Texas, home of Hardin-Simmons. Abilene Christian hired her, and Goodenough was back in her comfort zone. Abilene Christian is 150-71 in Goodenough’s seven seasons. The Wildcats were in NCAA Division II the first year but moved up to Division I in 2013-14, in the Southland. And now Abilene Christian is in the NCAA Tournament.
Gives me somebody to pull for in the women’s tournament, too.