In a move that had to happen, but many thought wouldn't because of Ernie's trump card in star player and son, Trey Zeigler, Central Michigan University Director of Athletics Dave Heeke today announced that head men's basketball coach Ernie Zeigler would not be retained for next season. Zeigler lasted six season in the maroon and gold, compiling a 75-111 record.
Zeigler signed a contract extension in 2010 after his best season, 15-15, capturing the second of back to back MAC West titles, and the signing of Trey Zeigler to the program. But from there it was all downhill, with the Chippewas going 10-21 in 2010-11, and 11-21 in 2011-12, despite having Trey on the team.
CMU reports that Zeigler will be paid $368,437 according to the buyout clause in his contract.
During his time at CMU, he never had a player play out his full four years of eligibility on the court while also graduating.
The last couple of seasons, Zeigler compiled impressive recruiting classes that were at, or near the top of the MAC, yet it translated to little success on the court. Over the past two seasons, CMU averaged abotu 60 points per game, placing the Chippewas among the bottom 30 teams in the country in that department.
This was a move that had to happen though. Anybody who attended a CMU game over the past couple seasons was left frustrated by the style of play the team displayed. Zeigler came to CMU as an assistant at UCLA, and tried to implement a UCLA, pro-style offense. CMU never had the personnel to run this style of play, mainly due to the lack of effective post players during Zeigler's tenure. During Zeigler's time, CMU has always had effective guards, and for whatever reason, he never utilized them with a fast break offense, or high pressure defense.
To give you an idea of the CMU offense: Slowly dribble up the court, call out a play, make a few passes along the perimeter, look up at shot clock, hold the ball until 5-8 seconds left, give the ball to Derek Jackson or Trey Zeigler, and let them try and isolate. Again, Zeigler's system probably works great if you have a big man down low who you can dump it to, and let him operate, but never in six seasons did Zeigler have that type of player.
But what I will always remember about Big Z is the way he dressed. Despite CMU regressing every year in his tenure, nobody can argue that Ernie was the best dressed coach in the MAC.
The question now is what becomes of many current CMU players, most notably Trey Zeigler, and the incoming recruiting class that Zeigler had signed. Chances are that Trey will follow his dad wherever he may end up. CMU also has promising young players like point guard Austin McBroom who may be affected by the firing of Zeigler. Zeigler had an incoming recruiting class of three players, a 6-9 forward from Cadillac, a 6-8 JUCO player, and a 6-4 preferred walk-on guard who averaged nearly 30 points per game this past season.
Dave Heeke has said that CMU will immediately begin a national search for the next head coach at CMU.