Basketball: Why Oliver would work at Mac, plus some salary clarity

Chris Oliver coming home to McMaster makes too much sense not to happen.

It is as easy to say that today as it is for our esteemed and valued commenters to say Oliver has confirmed he's not leaving the Windsor Lancers to join the OUA West rival Marauders. That might remain the case for a week or two, since a hiring process takes time, formal interviews and what-not, but there's more of a logic to an Oliver move to Mac than with any of the other names that have bubbled to the surface.

(Update, May 13: Mac has denied a report Oliver's been hired, but this is an opinion piece.)

This is nothing more than a casual observation. McMaster athletic director Jeff Giles has some fence-mending to do in Hamilton basketball circles after the way Raso's release went over in the media, traditional, social and otherwise. It's also the middle of May, a couple weeks ahead of when a bumper recruiting class goes from being a provisional to being confirmed. It would be better to have a coach in place than not have one, especially with the players the departed Joe Raso lined up, Winnipeg whiz kid Keith Omoerah (who says he's coming even with a different coach) and the Hamilton tandem of big men Taylor Black and and Satar Wahidi. All of the stakeholders, along with the incoming and returning players, could use some reassurance.

Enter Oliver. He and his spouse have Hamilton ties. He followed a path not unlike Raso's in his coaching career, success at the OFSAA level with St. Mary's Secondary School, assistant at Mac. People presumed he would might up being Raso's successor -- and who's to say the events of the past couple weeks have just accelerated that process? Raso might have only coached so long as he had his son, second-year guard Victor Raso, on the team. It's also somewhat like a player transferring -- it's a double bonus of gaining an asset at the expense of a competitor.

It is reasonable to ask, why leave Windsor. Basketball is high-priority there and it's a hoops hotbed.

However, there are plenty of coaches in CIS, in the NCAA and at the major-league level who, even if they had a good situation, always had an eye toward a homecoming, coaching the team they once played for, or in their hometown. Greg Marshall built a terrific football team at McMaster before ending up back at his alma mater, Western, by way of the CFL. Not too far from Hamilton, there's Ken Murray, who coached at Regina before coming back to Brock. It's like what Bear Bryant said in the 1950s when he left Texas A&M for Alabama: "Mama called."

It would not come as a shock if Oliver stayed put. The reasons it would work for McMaster are just too many to ignore.

There could be some resentment toward the new guy since Giles' initial move upset the coaching fraternity, but that might happen no matter who is hired. It's not enough reason to not take a good job.

Meantime, while we're here, some readers have raised concerns about the advertised salary ($64,000-$83,000) and the hours (35 per week) in McMaster's job posting. For everyone's sake (including the guy saying this), please keep in mind a lot of those numbers are barely worth the bandwidth used to post them on the Internet.

Job hirings at a university involve a lot of rigmarole. The advertised salary is often artificially low, since posting a higher figure might run afoul of the university employees' collective agreement. Once the people hiring have their person, they can go to HR and make a case, based on market factors, to offer a higher salary. Mac's next coach probably will make a fair chunk of change of more than $83Gs per year.

This came up when Guelph was advertising for a football coach to replace Kyle Walters. Point being, those numbers are not to be taken too literally. (Thanks to a couple friends who work at different universities who explained this.)

Oliver new head coach at Mac? (Ted Michaels, AM900 CHML)
McMaster athletics looking for change (Larry Moko, Hamilton Spectator)
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  1. You make some excellent points. However, who's to say that Greg Marshall wouldn't have gone back to Mac if there was an opening?

  2. Probably some chance that could have happened, but we'll never know. Fair point.

  3. Oliver is not going anywhere. He has a great nucleus returning next season, with DiLoreto, Collins, Philip, and Kuon. They will contend for a National title again next year.

  4. Does anyone else get the feeling that this was the plan all along
    and everything else, ei, the selection process was just for show?

  5. One poster is adamant that Oliver will not leave Windsor and others are quite sure he will. This speculation is quite entertaining. The big question is will the outcome be as predicted or a complete surprise? Maybe someone should start a pool?

  6. It's not impossible. Thing is, you'll never know, so long as you have to go through with interviewing other people.

    Hey, we've all had job interviews where it was obvious they already had their pick and you were just there as a formality. Hate it when that happens.

  7. This is shaping up to be a tug of war between 2 of the dominant west programs.
    On one hand you have Windsor trying to hang onto the coach who has brought national success back to a once proud program. On the other hand, you have arguably the most consistent West program of the last 18 years trying to lure back a graduate and former assistant coach.
    There is a lot at stake here in my opinion.
    If Windsor wins this battle...they will be the dominant West program for another 10-15 years.

  8. Anon 8:39...
    You HOPE Oliver isn't going anywhere.
    If I was you Windsor guy, I would be sh**ing bricks for the next few days
    until it is confirmed one way or the other.

  9. Giles will look like a genius if this comes off. Oliver was ready for this after 6 years as a Mac assistant but had to leave as Raso wasn't going anywhere. If the plan to replace Raso with Oliver was the goal all along, the critics can't rip Giles apart anymore.

  10. I can't imagine any Windsor supporter wants to lose Oliver to Mac. If it does happen....we go and find another quality hire like Chris. The Windsor job is full-time, basketball duties only.

  11. Sure, if Oliver were to go, we'd just go out and find a clone, easy as that.
    Thing is, it took a long time to find a Chris Oliver in the first place.
    Coaches of his calibre do not grow on trees.

  12. Nicolo Machiavelli5/13/2010 7:37 am

    May I offer premature congratulations to Jeff Giles for
    his alleged hire of Chris Oliver from Windsor!
    First, he had the audacity to torpedo Joe Raso posthaste.
    18 years be damned!
    But the piece de resistance was poaching Chris Oliver from Windsor even
    while Oliver was mid contract with that school.
    All the while, feigning an actual competition for the vacant job...
    Kudos to you, sir!
    That took balls of brass to pull off, for sure.
    Who cares if Jeff Giles is now instantly the most hated man in the OUA?
    Certainly, he won't.

  13. If Mr Giles wants to go in a different direction I am not so sure hiring Chris Oliver accomplishes that. His demeanor is not exactly like Joes but not too far either.

  14. Nic, there is no confirmation that Oliver has been offered or accepted the Mac job. If it should turn out that way, why would that make Giles the villan? Oliver can make decisions on his own, can he not? Each and every one of us has the right to investigate and explore all employment opportunities. Every job posting is open to all applicatants, even if the admin is leaning towards one individual. Your statements confuse me and I can only surmise that you are still reeling from Joe Raso's departure.

  15. No matter what side you're sitting on, this is all good for Oliver. It never hurts to be in demand and will only up his $ value, wherever he decides to go(or stay).

  16. The different direction Giles referred to is any place Joe isn't. How much clearer can it get?

  17. Nick The Geek5/13/2010 8:57 am

    Anon 8:08...
    It doesn't surprise me you are confused because apparently you have no sense of humour.
    I don't know Joe Raso at all.
    How could I?
    I am an early 16th century Italian philosopher who has been dead for over 480 years!
    In fact, I have been dead so long I evidently have forgotten how to spell my first name!
    In my little piece, I was merely trying to lampoon all the rumour mongering,
    skullduggery and general silliness that has followed this sordid affair.
    My comments were meant to be taken as tongue in cheek, but alas...
    nothing sadder than having to explain a joke to the hard of thinking.

  18. Tongue in cheek remarks rarely translate properly on a message board.

  19. This is a total joke... Everyone thinks Chris Oliver is Coach K... Talk about sideline demeanor...Chris Oliver took a costly techinical foul yelling at the refs in a tied game with one minute left vs Mac this season at the burridge Gymnasium... Here's to your next level guy

  20. Stephen Patasiak should be the next coach to be let go.... Let's clean house at Mac....

  21. If Chris Oliver goes to windsor... A great replacemnt at Windsor would be Joe Raso.... Stephen Patasiak should be the next to go....

  22. Could these last two comments be..."tongue in cheek"?

  23. This paragraph lifted from the Hamilton Spectator article
    Neate linked is quite telling:

    "Giles, a former president of the Canadian Football League, took over from Therese Quigley as Mac's AD a year ago. His background is that of a chartered accountant and a business restructuring specialist."

    A "business restructuring specialist", eh?
    Translation: hatchet man.
    Giles was brought in to do a specific job and it is a dirty one.
    Don't figure Giles will be around for 18 years like Quigley.
    Five years tops is what I figure.
    With blood still on his apron, he'll eventually move on to another job.

  24. What about the fact that Rob Hilson another integral part of the MAC athletic dept was also let go.

  25. The fact that Hilson was let go proves beyond a shadow of
    a doubt that no one in the McMaster athletic dept. is
    "integral" or "indispensable" any more.
    Looks like a lot of sleepless nights for some people.

  26. anon 10:18
    Giles can now move on to Brock. Their AD suddenly retired amidst rumblings of major discontent with Ken Murray.
    A Restructuring Specialist's job is never done!!

  27. Perhaps Giles can take on the Brock job while he continues to slice and dice at Mac. much blood letting, er, restructuring, so little time.

  28. The commute's not so bad from Hamilton to St. Kitts either. Many positives!

  29. Reports in Windsor on a local radio station have said that Chris Oliver has been offerd a contract extention and a significant pay increase to keep him at Windsor.....

  30. A Raven Maniac5/14/2010 9:49 am

    It has been reported on the CHT Hoop Talk blog that Scott Clark, longtime coach of Simon Fraser
    is leaving to take the same position with Thompson Rivers,
    thus he will be staying in the CIS.
    It's a surprising and somewhat puzzling development because Clark was
    so publicly gung ho for the move to NCAA D2 for SFU.

  31. What was the Windsor radio station that made this report? Did it quote a source?

  32. No surprise at all if Clark is leaving SFU for TRU. SFU pays the HC like crap and they don't have the financial resources to compete at the NCAA DII level in terms of scholarships and assistant coaches right now. Whoever gets the SFU gig now better be good at fundraising like Triano was. (Triano had built it up to six fulls and other significant partials, plus a full-time assistant by the time he left. DII teams can give 10 fulls.)

  33. The admin. at SFU have giant egos.
    They are writing checks with their ambitions their financial resources can't cash.
    I remember Clark being enthusiastic about the move to D2...publicly.
    Privately, he must have thought "Holy crap, we're gonna get our asses handed to us every night"
    Clark realized in D2, his team would have been a door mat and on the pay
    scale, he would have been rock bottom compared to other D2 coaches.
    An easy call to leave, IMO.

  34. If I'm an athlete in any sport and I have McMaster on my list of schools to go to I would be thinking twice for a number of reasons. New AD who seems to be making changes (agree with them or not) but face facts MAC has not won any CIS titles in a long time in any sport and the future does not look any better. Players like Satar Wahidi and Taylor Black should be looking at schools like Brock or Carlton (who both have fantastic BB teams) or schools with solid sports programs like Saint Mary's or Saskatchewan (great in Hockey, Football and Basketball).

  35. Or Windsor...

    Arguably the top basketball school in the CIS combined.

  36. Brock is a joke right now. That program is mired in controversy with head coach Murray. No one would chose that program now with the question mark on who is in charge. If Murray stays, I don't think Brad Rootes will. And he is the real deal. In fact, players there have to decide if they will stay if no changes are made. They don't have an AD anymore either. He just retired (resigned?)in the middle of what is turning into a messy situation.
    Carleton is unique in that if Smart wants you, you will know it. No point going there if you aren't heavily recruited. You'll just be in the back of a long line. That is Smart's power and no one else in the CIS has it.
    Out of Ontario, money can play a factor but many chose to stay close to home. Mac's recruits this year would be welcomed by any new coach as they are highly respected.
    The only questionable player there would be Victor Raso. There is a new big guard from Manitoba coming in I don't think Victor be seeing as much court time as the last season without his Dad pushing his playing time to get rookie all-star status. And before the masses jump all over that statement, let me say that every CIS coach pushes their top rookie to the forefront to showcase and politic for them.

  37. Brock has a fantastic BB team?
    Maybe in 1992 they did.
    They haven't had a "fantastic" team since Dave Picton was there.
    They had good teams during Brad Rootes time there, but let's face it, their championship win in 2008 was a total fluke.
    Brock wouldn't have even qualified for nationals that year
    had the tournament been in Halifax.
    They made the tournament thanks to the host berth Carleton didn't need
    because they won the Wilson.
    Had Carleton lost in the east playoffs, Brock wouldn't have been in Kanata.
    And since that championship team, Brock has missed the playoffs two years
    running despite having the CIS ROY two years in a row.
    Winning in 08 was maybe the worst thing to happen to Brock because Murray
    stuck around even longer.

  38. Good point about SMU and Sask above. Sask won Basketball and SMU won hockey and both have fantastic football programs (SMU along with Laval have dominated in the CIS in the last 15 plus years). What ever those 2 schools are doing seems to be working. An athlete would be amiss to not consider these "Powerhouse Sports Universities" in their top picks?

  39. Murray is Brock basketball.

  40. How can you say that a championship is a fluke? Obviously you have never one anything.

  41. SMU and Sask have location against them. Anyone from the urban areas of Ontario would find it a difficult transition. It's just a factor against them but not to say that the other points in their favour wouldn't sway some.

    Good point about Brock. It seems that they won that year in spite of the coach. Last year they had little in talented starters other than Didi, but this year was a major disappointment. They had shown such promise but basically crashed and burned towards the end of the season. Hearing about inside turmoil during the season makes sense now. One can really get a sense of how the mental aspect of the team fell apart under the stress. Rookies need guidance and with very few veteran players there, it was obvious they didn't get what they needed to succeed. 2 CIS ROY in a row and they didn't make the playoffs? I would hesitate to recommend this program to anyone.

  42. Thier inside problems were due both ROY's. Springer Williams came and stole Mukendi's thunder. It seems as though Murray liked CSW a tad more than Mukendi and theres your problem. Mukendi wants to be the man. Too many egos on that team.
    Agreed not an ideal situation for any player to go to right now.
    My guess when its all said and done is one leaves to play elsewhere.

  43. From what I have heard at Brock, the players themselves were not infighting. The coaches had differences and Murray did not develop a relationship with the players that garnered respect. He was abusive and tried to play the athletes against each other but in the end they all banded together against him. It was a very difficult year and I can't see any of them wanting to repeat that again. When a coach's only interest is to promote one player, at the expense of all others on the team, then it is a receipe for disaster. This also was evident at Mac with Ryan Christie and even Victor Raso.
    Players rarely turn on each other, they will place the blame on the coach and rightly so. It is a coaches job to maintain that balance.

  44. By the sounds of it, there is a lot more going on at Brock than just players having their differences. There's also no way in hell that coaches like Murray (and Raso for that matter) with all their prior success and coupled with what they have done both for the community and the school, should be shoved out the door and have it slammed shut behind them. Something definitely isn't right at Brock with the players and the coaching staff.

  45. Bob: I agree with you about location when it comes to Sask but SMU is sitting in Halifax which is one of the best cities in all of Canada and the school has an excellent campus and location. I believe that is (along with the fact there is know arguing about it the success of their teams year in and year out especially in football) sells the school to anyone considering going there.

  46. Sorry to offend you anon 2:24, but Brock's win in 2008 was a colossal fluke.
    I won't bore people to death explaining once again why
    but Brock
    had an enormous amount of good fortune going their way
    en route to hoisting the McGee Trophy.
    The only other championship comparable was Guelph's win in 1974, when they
    accepted an invitation McMaster turned down.

  47. Rumour out of Brock has Rootes as the new head coach and giving up the Provincial team

  48. Rootes needs to get some experience as a coach before assuming this role. Rumour has it he and his dad are behind all the discontent at Brock in an effort to force Murray out. Talk about being impatient and having an over-inflated ego. He's never even been a head coach at the high school level and Brock is ready to hand him the program. Speaks a great deal as to his character, if he had anything to do with the trouble that Murray has been dealing with. Loyalty seems to be a rare thing these days.

  49. I don't know much about the Brock situation, but as far as Windsor is concerned, I hear that Darrel Glenn (Humber Coach) is interviewing for the Windsor job. If that's true, that would add credence to the Chris Oliver Mac rumours.

  50. Priority number one is keeping Ollie.
    If we lose Ollie to Mac...Coach Glenn is an absolutely viable candidate.
    Windsor needs to recruit the GTA area and who better than Glenn.

  51. Anon 10:39 Rootes and his DAD? lol
    That's an interesting scenario.
    Not that Brad isn't looking to take the helm, but Murray's problems are of Murray's making. He gathered a group of rookies (recruited by Brad) and didn't know what to do with them. It takes more than Murray gave apparently. From what I know, Rootes was the good cop to Murrays bad cop. Guess what happens then? Mutiny.
    Darrel Glenn, amongst others, could consider Brock as a possible option too as Brock will definitely be looking for a new head coach very soon. A new AD, whenever they find one, will ensure that. It's just a matter of when.

    There certainly is no shortage of upheaval in the CIS these days.

  52. There appears to be an abundance of AD jobs out there right now across the country. There are some tough moves to be made in several universities and seeing the outcry and resistance to change, who wants that job now?
    It makes being a head coach look easy.

  53. Oliver doesn't recruit many high school kids...look at the roster pretty much transfers....what three or four out of twleve? Three high school kids leaving windsor this year! Turnbull,Tufaedh? and Gauthier! The rep is building strong....admission requirements at Windsor..pulse...and their putting money into it...why leave? My question with him is he going to lose out on high school kids at Windsor because of the path they have chosen recruiting wise these past few years?

  54. Turnball, Gauthier aren't good enough for the Lancer roster. Gauthier is about 4 inches too short for his skill set.

  55. Part of the reason he has been so successful with the transfers is because Windsor guarantees admission from any US juco or Canadian college. Why not take advantage of that? Of course the flip side is that it seems like many of the blue chip high school kids don't want to come to Windsor and the local kids are looking to get out. Maybe becuae of the depressed local economy. He's done well getting kids like Diloreto and Collins to come, imagine what he could do at a school in the Golden Horseshoe. People slag on Hamilton but the Mac campus is located in the best part of town and is really one of the nicest around. Well regarded school and great facilities too. I don't think recruiting was ever Raso's weakness and Oliver could do just as well or better. Hell, he's an alumnus so it would be an easy sell for him.

  56. FYI Oliver went hard after Gauthier

  57. I heard just the opposite about Gauthier, the kid has the rep of being a head case.

  58. If you think location is a problem for Saskatchewan, then you obviously haven't visited to Saskatoon for any length of time. It's a great city! If a kid from California can make the transition (that would be Mr. Glover), then surely any kid from Ontario could. Why, indeed, there were a pair of former Ontario players with the squad this past season, including Trevor Nerdahl. When it comes to basketball, the U of S is a rising power and its football and hockey programs are right up there as well. And so is the Saskatchewan economy, for a change. No, they call Saskatoon "The Paris of the Prairies" for a reason — and that's coming from the music world, not the sports world. The only drawback are the long, and at times, brutally cold winters, but I can't think of any other negative. You don't spend half your life stuck in traffic, driving to and from school or work. I don't know how some people do it, all that unnecessary stress of a big city.

  59. Its a personal choice but I agree with Bob. I would find it hell, but then thats me. But as a born and bred kid from the golden horseshoe, Saskatchewan is not a big selling point. Leaving home is a big enough adjustment, leaving friends adds to it. Any OUA division means playing home or away games are only an hour or so away from each other. That's hard to beat.

  60. Gauthier will not be a good OUA player. Turnbull will be fortunate to stay in school.

  61. Bob added Saint Mary's in to his comment and it is clear Bob has never been to that campus or the city of Halifax. IMO SMU is the best overall sports uni in all of Canada and their football teams seem to be competing for titles every year and seem to have a great number of players drafted in the CFL each year. I know someone involved with Montreal Alouettes who told me SMU's football team is the team of the future as they are young with a ton of talent. They won at hockey and their Basketball teams are always strong. Living in Halifax is second to non in Canada so it makes me wonder how Bob could even include SMU in his statement?

  62. Probably just a honest oversight on Bob's part. When you say such as, that doesn't mean you have to include everybody.

    Saint Mary's, pound for pound (i.e., considering the size of the school) rates well as a sports school. Both hockey teams made nationals this season, the men won it all, basketball's been at nats regularly, the women's team had a national junior team player (Justine Colley).

    Football, you have to admit that it would be nice to see what SMU would do in a deeper league than the four-team AUS. You'd have a better gauge, that's not a comment on the team. It's just there will be doubts as long as Ontario and Quebec each have more strong programs (Mac, Ottawa, Western, Laurier, Queen's) than the Maritimes has programs, period.

  63. AUS plays The Q each year in the cross over games. Ask players from either division and they will tell you the travel is tough. That being said outside of Laval no CIS Football Team has had more success in the last 10 years then SMU and to mention a team like MAC in the same breath with SMU is like comparing Northern High School in Toronto to The Dallas Cowboys.

  64. How did this go from basketball to football? But since it did let me just say no OUA team or anyone else in the CIS should be mentioned with Saint Mary's, Laval or Saskatchewan when it comes to football over the last ten years or more!

  65. No one who played 10 years ago is playing now (maybe at Manitoba), so it's not clear why that's your baseline. You sound stuck in the early 2000s. I would say only what's happened since '06 or '07 is relevant.

    I'm more interested in projecting what will happen in the next decade, with more players staying in Ontario and teams not being able to use as many players who are 26 and 27 years old as they did in the 1990s.

    Out of sensitivity, let's not mention what province the 2000 Ottawa team which beat Laval in the playoffs and won the Vanier Cup was from. We won't mention what province the 2009 Queen's team which beat Laval in the playoffs was from. We won't mention which Huskies the 2005 Laurier team beat in the Vanier Cup.

    Laval is the gold standard, Saskatchewan is probably in the top 2-3 programs in the country and Saint Mary's is probably in the top six, seven.

    Anyway, this thread is about basketball, where I seem to recall Saskatchewan did pretty well last season -- and no one stood there saying, "oh, Carleton and UBC are the best teams over the last 10 years." They said, "good on you, Huskies, happy for you!"

  66. With the changes at MacMaster (Raso and Hilson both gone) how safe is the football coaches given their lack of success (less then the Basketball team has had in the recent past?)

  67. Inside sources at Mac have indicated that Chris Oliver is anticipated to decline the offer at Mac.... Sources are saying that Mark Walton is going to be named head coach in the next two weeks... Marl Walton is compared by some to Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV... This is not the next step to a national... If anything Mac is making a big mistake....

  68. Would be surprised if Walton took the job offer. He definitely has some serious background credentials and success - the guy can coach. I had heard that he just recently interviewed with the University of Colorado for the Women s Assistant Coaching Position. I think there are some NEDA girls there.

  69. ilegial recruits...altered grades....Can't wait

  70. This has to be the most ridiculous rumour out there. How could McMaster offer the job to a guy who has never coached at the CIS level, has zero connection to McMaster and who built his reputation on sending kids to the US rather to the CIS in an effort to make himself look good?

    This must be coming from one of Walton's cronies because if it had a grain of truth, the alumni would revolt and some of the players would start the paperwork to transfer.