WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - DECEMBER 10: Eastern Michigan Eagles head coach Rob Murphy looks on against the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena on December 10, 2011 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue defeated Eastern Michigan 61-36. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
This news is still considered breaking and up-in-the-air, but Graham Couch and Gary Parrish are way reliable enough to move ahead with this. The reigning MAC Coach of the Year, Rob Murphy, is leaving Eastern Michigan for a scouting job in the Orlando Magic program.
In one year Murphy and Eastern Michigan went 14-18 and 9-7 in the MAC, but that conference record was enough to win the MAC West outright, and I'm still trying to figure out how he won as much as he did, given that scoring 50 points a night was a struggle for the Eagles. Things were looking up for Murphy, the former Syracuse assistant, and leaving the post in mid-August, when many teams are working out and some are doing international trips, is a sudden blow to the program.
It's also a weird but understandable path to take if one's dream is to go to the NBA. The Magic are one of the most volatile teams in the league, having just hired a new head coach and general manager and, oh yeah, they just traded Dwight Howard and got little back for it. If you're going to go into a situation, go in at the bottom, do a good job, hope to be noticed, and advance. It's what he did at Eastern.
Look, I wish Murphy the best of luck with the Magic. This is what coaches do. But in his announcement speech on April 21, 2011, he used language like "this is not a stepping stone for me" and "I plan to build a program from the ground up." I recognize that people will say that for recruiting purposes ... but he owns those words left the job after 16 months. Once it's confirmed he left for Orlando, it's just another blow to the latent issue of coaching continuity in MAC men's basketball.
(And hey, there's still time to refute the report and stick with EMU, Coach.)
But in the short-term, the Eagles are going to find their third coach in as many years. I am guessing all the good ones are taken right now, so they really have no choice but to poach an assistant somewhere. Throw as many names out there as you want: someone's going to jump right into a decent situation.
Update: The Detroit News confirms the Magic offered Murphy a job but EMU assistant coach Benny White didn't know how he responded to it. That was as of yesterday.
Update 2: The News is now saying he's going to the Magic as an assistant coach.
Update 3: Poignant reader Jonathan emailed us with a coincidental fact: if Murphy goes to the Magic, the job he could be taking might be that of the recently fired Al Walker, who was recently named as Buffalo women's basketball assistant coach. Walker is a former head coach for Binghamton and Chaminade, and I can't find any experience on his resume regarding women's basketball. Anyway, neat tangent.
Update 4: And, two days later, Rob Murphy says no to Orlando.