When I look at the assistants on the bench, I can't believe that they all weren't canned (exceptions for the GAs, Managers, etc).
McDermott's downfall at Iowa State has been less of an Xs and Os thing, and more of a recruiting/talent thing. Yes we can point to some coaching mistakes over the course of his tenure, but we can also point to the slew of Big 12 games that ISU had a chance to win. 12 or 13 of those 16 Big 12 regular season games could have gone either way. We can't really say that the coaches haven't put the players in a position to be in the game, despite what we think about the Xs and Os, and how it could be different.
Biggest reason things haven't been good in my opinion is the lack of talent on the teams. The recruiting and retention has been a mess.
The thing with recruiting and retention is the chicken vs. the egg argument. No one wants to play on a losing team. Recruits these days want to play a lot and they want to win a lot. It's hard to win without good players, and it's hard to bring in good players if you aren't winning. That's the reason Hamilton is gone, and likely the same as why others like John Wilkins are changing their commitments (of course mixed in there were legit factors like fit, personality, etc).
I don't know what the heck McDermott and his staff can do without making some serious changes to how they run things, and who is involved with running things. Each year, the situation gets worse. They need a miracle worker in regards to recruiting and retention.
To run McDermott's system, you need guys that have a high basketball IQ, and guys who are fundamentally sound. To win in the Big 12, you need athletes. With athletes, what I'm seeing is that they never learn the fundamentals of the game, and they don't learn an offensive/defensive system. They are usually the best guy on their High School/JUCO team, and those coaches want to win, so they just let those top guys run the show, and do whatever they want. These coaches just want to win, so they don't mess with a guy's shot, or really teach him anything about the game.
If there's a guy out there that's physically gifted, fundamentally sound, and has a high basketball IQ, he's going to end up at a school like Duke, UNC, Kansas, etc., because that's a top recruit. You don't have many guys with the complete package.
That in my mind is the problem at ISU. You can do decent in the Big 12 without blue-chippers, just look at Mizzou. The thing with Mizzou is that they run a system that works for the types of players they can bring in.
Now I hear some guys say "hey man, the recruiting was good, just look at Mike Taylor, Wesley Johnson, Craig Brackins, and Marquis Gilstrap". I'd respond by saying that Mike Taylor had character issues at the time, and nobody wanted to take a chance on him. Wesley was pure luck (at the time he signed, I don't think anyone realized how good he'd be). Craig was a good get, and Gilstrap was a situation where no schools were really wanting to take a JUCO with only 1 year of eligibility.
I'd also point out that the entire 2008 Recruiting Class, save for Vanderbeken is gone, and the future of those remaining from the 2009 Recruiting Class is iffy as to where they'll end up the next couple of years as well.
I'd also point out that every single year, we've had to bring in 6 new players to the program, and we have open scholarships to get to a grand total of 6 for 2010 as well. You can't build a program like that. You can look at guys who weren't highly touted recruits like Boozer, and see them improve over the years. Transfers kill that. We had some midmajor guys, but had they toughed it out for 2-3 more years, they would've been serviceable.
We've probably been in the bottom 3 with recruiting in the conference, and we're definitely worst in the conference with retention.
The thing that probably bothers me the most is that almost every year, there is at least one departure that's a "total shock" to the coaching staff. If that is the case, those guys have to be looking at themselves in the mirror. These guys coach athletics because they love the game, and because they want to help young people grow. If they cannot create a relationship in which their players are not comfortable talking with them, then they aren't just failing on the court, but they are failing those kids off the court as well.
I get not every player is going to hit it off with the head coach. That's fine. But there has to be assistants on the staff that these guys can be comfotable going to. Assistants do a ton of the work with recruiting and with player relationships. Recruits often times build a relationship with the assistants on the recruiting trail, prior to meeting the head coach at all! If I was their boss, I'd can them. This is starting to remind me of the assistants situation with Chizik: where you have guys that you like, but cannot do the job.
McDermott has had his mistakes and short comings as well. But if he had a staff that was a better fit for ISU, I really think the impacts of some of these mistakes would have been a lot less significant. I'm sure on a personal level these guys are all great, but they aren't doing it. In my opinion that's the only way McDermott can salvage his coaching career.
There's a vacant assistant coaching position due to Ron Smith leaving and Rutter taking his spot. I just hope we can get someone in there that can change up some of the problems.