OK, maybe that headline’s a tad unfair, because by just about every account, Jerry Wainwright is a top guy. Who knows, maybe being a nice guy got him a little more time at DePaul than anyone else would have received. Either way, Wainwright was let go today as head coach of the Blue Demons. He took over before the 2005 season and built a 59-80 record while running things there. In a twist that might make that ol’ Yalie Stephen V. Benet proud, it’s now The Demons and Tracy Webster, the assistant who was promoted to interim head coach for the rest of this season. The buzz on Wainwright’s departure began in earnest last night, but we should give props to Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy for listing him as numero uno on his list of coaches under pressure in a pre-season article.
Wainwright’s squad had started out 5-1 this season, scoring wins over a decent Detroit team, losing a close one to current darlings Tennessee, and handing 14-1 Northern Iowa their only blemish on the season. There were a few cupcake wins and a couple of setbacks to a pair of pretty good SEC teams in Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. These early performances likely served to mitigate the sting left over from last year’s crippling 0-18 conference record, but then came a home loss to American (3-13), a loss at Florida Gulf Coast (5-10), and eventually three convincing losses to Big East powerhouses (at Pittsburgh, Georgetown, at Villanova) to start the conference slate that put the Blue Demons at 7-8, and turned out to be Wainwright’s undoing. In that last game against Villanova, by the way, Wainwright actually suffered a torn MCL and broken tibia when he was hit by a diving player near the DePaul bench.