The Bowling Green Falcons announced on Tuesday afternoon that the school would not renew the contract of men's basketball coach Louis Orr. The school also announced that a national search for the 16th coach in program history would begin immediately.
Orr arrived at Bowling Green after five seasons at Seton Hall during which his teams went 80-69 and made two NCAA Tournament appearances. He replaced Dan Dakich for the 2007-2008 season and went 13-17 in his first season. His first MAC campaign ended with a 7-9 record.
Orr's second season would prove to be, by far, his most successful with the Falcons. BGSU went 19-14 overall and 11-5 in MAC play during the 2008-2009 season. The 11-5 record in MAC games earned the #1 seed in the 2009 MAC Men's Basketball Tournament. The Falcons defeated the Ohio Bobcats in the quarterfinals before dropping a semifinal decision to the Akron Zips. Based on their regular season championship, the Falcons played in the post-season NIT, where they lost by two at Creighton.
The Falcons dropped to 14-16 and 6-10 in the MAC during the following season, and they dropped their initial MAC Tournament game by two at Western Michigan. Bowling Green dropped to 14-19 for the 2010-2011 season, but they earned an 8-8 conference mark and beat Northern Illinois by 20 at home to open the MAC Tournament. Once the team arrived in Cleveland, they were eliminated by Western Michigan for the second straight year.
BGSU continued to hover around .500 during conference play for each of the next two seasons. They were 9-7 in the MAC in 2012 and completed a 16-16 season, and they were 7-9 in 2013 during a 13-19 campaign. However, both seasons ended in bitter disappointment when the Falcons dropped home games during the first round of the MAC Tournament. In 2012, they lost by one to Central Michigan before losing by 17 at Oakland in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. In 2013, the Falcons lost by 11 to Miami.
During the 2013 season, the Falcons very often played with a bench that reached only two or three players deep. The team was one of the top two teams in the MAC for scoring defense, but they were never able to find any real consistency on offense. That, plus the team's depth issues, ultimately resulted in a 12-20 record and a 6-10 mark in MAC play. The team bowed out to Northern Illinois by three in overtime during the first round of the MAC Tournament.
Orr finishes his seven-year tenure at Bowling Green with a 101-121 record. The Falcons were 54-60 during regular season MAC play and were 2-7 in the MAC Tournament. He was 0-2 in national post-season tournaments.
From an on-court perspective, it really cannot be argued that change was necessary, and I believe that most people knew this course was generally inevitable since last spring. When Bowling Green welcomed a new athletics director last summer, the writing on the wall became even more pronounced, and it's a pall that hung over the program for the entire season.
Fans should certainly look to the future with anticipation, and one can only hope that this change in direction will be fore the better. However, this should not be a day for celebration. This is a sad, dark day for a program that has strove for 46 years to get back to the NCAA Tournament and build a consistent winner as well as for a good man who tired to accomplish those feats by running the program in the way he thought was best. Both parties deserved a better ending
BGSU athletics director Chris Kingston issued the following statement:
"We want to thank Coach Orr for his dedication to BGSU and his leadership in developing men of character in the Falcon basketball program," stated Kingston. "I want to personally thank Coach Orr for his professionalism and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."
Fans should echo those sentiments and let go of any animosity they might have. The time to look backward has passed; the BGSU Falcons are officially in a new era.
It's likely too early to speculate about Orr's replacement, but it's also likely that this process will go in a fashion similar to when football coach Dave Clawson had to be replaced. Kingston's had a long time to think about this and undoubtedly already has a short list of names that he wants to consider for the job. If the hiring of Dino Babers is any indication, Kingston will probably favor a lower-level head coach who is seeking to move up the coaching ranks.
While the uncertainty around the head coaching position shouldn't last terribly long, there's likely to be some longer-term questions about the roster makeup of the Falcons. Cameron Black and Craig Sealey are both finished with their eligibility, and Chauncey Orr will have to decide whether or not to stay with the Falcons. In any event, the new coach will need to reshape (rebuild?) the roster. The process might not take as long as some others in the MAC during recent years, but whomever the new coach is, he will likely experience some early growing pains.