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Is Tonight Billy Taylor’s Last Stand?

Billy Taylor is in a much better position of Ball State coaches who have lost their jobs. Take a look at his competition.

Stan Parrish: Last stand came in 2010 when Ball State football took winless Eastern Michigan to overtime and lost at home destroying the hearts of the 20 fans who still believed in him.

Ronny Thompson: Last stand came in court. Enough said.

Those two examples are not exactly glorious. Just add some Chicago Bulls music and Taylor is five times better off. Here are some reasons why Taylor should return or hit the road after the season.

Reasons for Taylor’s return.

The” bad hand” argument: Taylor inherited a total disaster of a basketball program in 2007 from Thompson and fans all knew it would take time to repair. Taylor had plenty of forgiveness for losses as fans saw progress for the program as a whole each year, well until 2012. Not many wanted to coach at Ball State when he took the job and Taylor deserves a lot of credit for taking a chance on Ball State.

The “good guy” argument: After Thompson, any guy who is normal is seen as a saint. Add to the fact how calm Taylor is on the sideline shows more proof of the “good guy” mentality.  No one has ever said anything bad about Taylor the person.

The “who is going to replace him” argument: Rick Majerus is not walking through that door. A new coach would have to maintain the players signed on for next year, and be able to relate for Muncie. Does not sound too hard but how many coaches have been hired and fired at Ball State because he or she was not good fit in East Central Indiana?

The “able to recruit Indiana” argument: Taylor has been able to keep local players in Muncie and that is no small achievement. Jarrod Jones, Randy Davis, Jauwan Scaife, Tyrae Robinson, Chris Bond, Tyler Koch, are all Indiana boys. MAC schools are not going to recruit nationally but keeping the shields up locally is encouraging as high school players are not turned off to the program.

Reason’s for Taylor’s dismissal.

The “It’s all downhill from here” argument: With Jarrod Jones and Randy Davis graduating one can say Ball State has maxed out after this season. Hard to see how the Cardinals will be better next year so might as well end the Taylor era now.

The “team has quit listening to him” argument: This is something that is hard to prove. Fans question the effort of the players but that does not mean the players have turned on Taylor. If it is true that the players have lost all confidence in him then it is clearly time for a coaching change. This is something that Taylor can prove false tonight by Ball State playing hard from start to finish at Western Michigan. Fans want to see a will to win in the Cardinals tonight and if they do not then the hot seat will get hotter for Taylor.

The “bad schedule” argument: The days of Ball State playing teams worthy of Yorktown and Muncie Southside seems to be getting on the nerves of Cardinals fans. Fans are accusing Ball State of getting fat on cupcakes in non-conference play to the point where the team cannot compete in MAC action. Personally I think this is a bogus argument as this is a team with seniors who know about MAC play all ready. Butler, Morehead State, and IUPUI are similar to MAC teams so it is not like Ball State was not ready for the MAC.

The “not inspiring players” argument: Ball State has had collapses before under Taylor. Two years ago Ball State dropped all the way down to the eight seed in the MAC tournament. With Ball State dropping down to the nine seed this year many are questioning Taylor’s ability to lead. This is where his calmness on the sideline does not help. Some fans see it as apathy, but Taylor is not one to yell at a player in public. What goes on in practice and closed meetings stay in those places. I seriously think Taylor would benefit from wearing a microphone during a game or in practice and posting the recording on the school’s website. This would persuade some fans that he is actually working on the sidelines.

The wild card.

The new athletic director: With the men’s and women’s basketball coaches trying to keep their jobs nothing causes more chaos than having a lame duck AD in Collins who really wants to just ease his way out. The new AD may want to put his (or her) stamp on the program with his own hire. If that is the case then no matter what Taylor does tonight in MAC tournament he is out of luck.

Tonight at the Broncos

The fact is Taylor put himself in this position. Injuries and suspensions have happened this year, but not to the point where it warrants as an excuse. Fans know Ball State has the talent to be better than the ninth best team in the MAC.

Ball State does not need to win the MAC tournament for Taylor to keep his job, but the team must prove it still wants him as head coach with strong performances. Going one and done as Western could be game over.

Ball State beat the two weakest teams in the MAC to close out the regular season this past week but did so unconvincingly. Trailing Northern Illinois (four wins on the year) at halftime on senior day is offensive. Ball State was clearly a better team yet Northern acted like the game was more important to them. That cannot happen tonight.

Best case scenario is the Cardinals wake up tonight. Jones gets 20 points and 10 boards. The guards play defense on the perimeter for the first time this season and make shots of their own.

Worst case scenario is Ball State continues to let three-point shooters get open. Jones continues to struggle. Davis gets upset near the end of a certain loss and starts punching people like he is Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest. Taylor is fired, players transfer, recruits decomitt and the basketball program enters another dimension called the Ronny Thompson Zone. That sounded like one of those new commercials for satellite TV.

Honestly, I hope Taylor is back next year. I hope I am not in minority of Cardinals fans who feel this way. Taylor fits in here in Muncie and like I said that is not an easy find. Some wins this week should quiet the critics long enough to give him another year.

Show us what you got Billy Taylor. This may be your last chance to do so.

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