When Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters announced that he was retiring, Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun’s name was bounced around as an early name to watch for the role. That argument was bolstered by the News-Herald’s David Glasier, who was emphatic in his support for the Villa Angela-St. Joseph grad and former Viking player.
Even without Glasier’s ringing endorsement, Calhoun’s resume, particularly in the last five seasons leading the Falcons, would leave very little doubt that he’d be a top candidate for the CSU job.
And it would make sense. If anybody needs a case study in making the transition from Division II (where Fairmont State resides) to Division I, look no further than one of the Horizon League’s own. Linc Darner, who now coaches at Green Bay, came to the Phoenix after winning a Division II title with Florida Southern. And in his first season, Darner led Green Bay to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years.
Like Darner in 2015, Calhoun has his Falcons squad very well-positioned for a Division II crown of their own. Since arriving in Fairmont after being on Bob Huggins’ staff at West Virginia, it’s clear to see that the previous four seasons have led to this latest tourney run.
For recruiting, Calhoun has maintained his ties to Northeast Ohio, the best example of which is senior Thomas Wimbush. The 6-7 forward, originally from Lorain, is among the teams’ leaders in both scoring and rebounding, trailing only fellow senior, first-team All-American and Delaware, Ohio native Matt Bingaya.
It also helps that the Falcons travel to Northeast Ohio at least once a year to play conference foes Notre Dame College.
And Calhoun hasn’t shied away from reclamation projects, either. When Nick Harney found himself kicked off the Akron basketball team, it was Calhoun and FSU that provided him with a second chance. Harney made it count, leading the team in scoring and being named to the Mountain East Conference’s first team for 2014-15.
Cleveland State fans can use the Falcons’ first round game in the NCAA Tournament against Bowie State as a good reference to the kind of play Calhoun promotes. One facet, the consistent pressure defense, should look familiar to the Viking faithful. But the big key that Calhoun brings is a much better flow on offense, which is something CSU has struggled with the past two seasons.
Fairmont State has so far been successful in its overall game plan, to the point where it has made its way for the Elite Eight, Division II’s annual basketball championship get-together, at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In fact, the Falcons are the overall top seed in the final eight, and face off against Rollins, a team in the midst of an 11-game winning streak.
Regardless of the outcome, Calhoun should certainly garner interest from Cleveland State, if athletic director Mike Thomas hasn’t picked up the phone and called him already. Time may be of the essence, though, as rumors are swirling around that Youngstown State may also be a serious suitor for Calhoun’s services as well.
So, you know that private jet that CSU president Ronald Berkman uses to travel, which ruffled some feathers a couple of years back? Now would probably be a good time for Thomas to ask Berkman to borrow it to fly up to Sioux Falls.
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