There do not seem to be a lot of Craig Esherick fans out there. If there’s a campus pastime at Georgetown, it’s calling for the coach’s job. Even after the Hoyas’ Sweet 16 appearance in 2000-01, “Fire Esherick” posts appeared frequently on Internet message boards. Most of the time, such statements are either poorly thought out or entirely irrational. Craig Esherick, at this point in time, has done nothing that would allow Athletic Director Joseph Lang to fire him.

This is not to say, however, that Esherick doesn’t make mistakes, the most recent one being his inability to get his players’ heads together during the last timeout of the Pitt game last Saturday. In fact, Esherick has made quite a few mistakes since I’ve been a student here, which is about as long as he’s been the head coach. A few of them, such as refusing to foul until the final seconds against UConn last season, have cost the Hoyas games.

However, if Georgetown’s mustachioed mentor doesn’t deserve to be fired, he doesn’t deserve a contract extension either. It is obvious that fans, students and alumni are not completely satisfied with the job that Esherick has done. Want evidence? Sit in the student section for one game and listen to young Hoya scholars boo their own coach. Go to fan message boards and read what fans and alums say about Esherick. In fact, other than a handful of Esherick apologists and Mrs. Esherick, it seems that the only person satisfied with the coach’s progress is Joe Lang.

Last week, when referring to the now-notorious contract extension, Mr. Lang suggested that it is not reasonable to believe that the Georgetown men’s basketball team will make the NCAA tournament every year. This sets an extremely low standard for a team that once received an invitation to the big dance for 14 years in a row. There is a reason that Craig Esherick hung Georgetown’s NIT banner from the 1999-2000 season above the urinals in the men’s locker room. The Hoyas are, for the time being, still a big-name program, and their fans, as well as the players who don the Georgetown jersey, expect more than an NIT game against Siena at the end of the year.

When I mailed Georgetown a letter stating that I would spend the next four years of my life in Washington, D.C., basketball had quite a bit to do with that decision. Memories of Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning in No. 33 jerseys put visions of NCAA tournaments in my head. I wanted to be a small part of Georgetown’s greater glory on the hardwood. Had I heard our esteemed athletic director’s comment before sending that letter, I would have thought twice about sticking a stamp on the front of the envelope. A commitment to anything less than excellence is not what a program, especially a program struggling to rebuild its image as a top-level team, needs.

I also can’t fathom why making the tournament every year should be out of the question. Georgetown still has enough of a reputation to attract great players (see: Mike Sweetney, Tony Bethel), and still enough attention from television (the Hoyas are on TV 11 times this season) to woo poll voters. Even Gonzaga has made an NCAA tournament reputation for itself over the past four years. Shouldn’t a school with far greater resources expect just as much?

The fans who drive this program certainly do. I guarantee that if Georgetown misses the NCAA tournament for the last two years of Esherick’s original contract that support for the program will begin to dry up. Lang’s comment is completely out of sync with the expectations of those who buy tickets to games at MCI Center, those who donate portions of their income to the athletic program and those who drive up television ratings. If Lang implements his version of a “successful” basketball program at Georgetown, then these people will lose faith, and those few who do stick around to root for the Hoyas might start suggesting that we should drop down to the Atlantic-10 Conference.

Lang has a duty to explain to the fans, the athletic department backers, the administration and the basketball team why he has chosen to clearly disagree with them on the expected level of success of the historically strong Georgetown men’s basketball program. If he doesn’t, then the new campus pastime may rightly become calling for the athletic director’s job, not Craig Esherick’s.

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