Here's what's happening at Mac College

By Steve Sell
December 16, 2014

All things McPherson College...

• COACHING SEARCH CONTINUES — I was chatting with McPherson College Athletic Director Doug Quint last week and he said the Bulldogs’ search for a new football coach should heat up this week.

Quint is hoping to have a coach in place in the next week to 10 days after Steve Fox stepped down recently after just one year. Mac is one of three KCAC schools shopping for a coach, as there also are openings at Bethany and Southwestern.

This is a trying time for the program. After peaking in 2009 and 2010 with glorious 9-2 and 10-1 seasons, respectively, the Bulldogs have not experienced a winning season. They have gone 4-7, 4-5, 5-6 and 5-6. The Bulldogs actually were 4-7 on the field this season, but have been notified they have received a forfeit from Bacone because the Warriors used an ineligible player.

This is an important hire for Quint. This will be his fourth coach in the last six seasons and such instability weighs heavily on a program, especially from a numbers standpoint as players grow weary of continual coaching changes. Since Brian Ward’s highly successful tenure, it’s been Joe Bettasso for two years, Pete Sterbick for two years and Fox for one.

The new coach that comes in will have to do some serious damage control. According to several sources close to the program, there could be a wave of players leaving and numbers for spring football could be rather slim.

Quint is looking for an energetic coach who is committed to staying for more than a year or two. If you look at the top programs in the KCAC, stability is a common thread. Kent Kessinger at Ottawa, Andy Lambert at Sterling, Monty Lewis at Friends and Mike Gardner at Tabor all have longevity.

I really thought the Bulldog program had arrived with back-to-back national playoff appearances in 2009-10. I’m worried with such a coaching merry-go-round, the program could return to those Dark Age days when the Bulldogs were a perennial basement team.

• BROWN HAS BEEN TREMENDOUS — From the rubble of a 2-12 start for the Bulldogs’ women’s basketball team, junior guard Bailey Brown has emerged as a phoenix rising from the ashes.

The 5-5 guard is second in the KCAC in scoring and third in rebounding, while leading Mac in virtually every statistical category.

Her 8.1 rebounding average is particularly staggering as she works her way amongst the trees and has a nose for the ball. Her fearless attitude in taking the ball to the basket is one reason she has averaged 10 free throw attempts a game, making 73 percent. She’s averaging 17 points a game.

Brown also logs 35 minutes a game, a number that you hope doesn’t take its toll on her slight build. She battles her heart out every game even though it hasn’t helped the Bulldogs to hardly any wins.

If coach Gordon Reimer had five Bailey Browns, he’d be knocking on the KCAC championship door.

• MEN HAVE LOST CONFIDENCE — When McPherson College’s men look under the Christmas tree next week, hopefully they’ll find boxes and boxes of confidence.

After a 3-1 start, the Bulldogs have lost eight of nine, with the only interruption being the rousing 104-101 road victory over nationally ranked Bethany, which is the Swedes’ only loss in conference play so far.

Last week’s games were as disappointing as I can remember at the Sport Center. The Bulldogs were hoping to play themselves into the KCAC race, but instead shot under 40 percent in decisive losses to Kansas Wesleyan and Tabor.

Coach Tim Swartzendruber has had amazing success at Mac, including a stretch of four national tournament appearances in a row, which is unprecedented in the KCAC. The “Drive for Five” ended last year, but preseason prospects were bright. It didn’t help, though, that a signee who had All-KCAC potential decided to leave the team a week before the season started.

The Bulldogs have had slow starts in the past under Swartzendruber, but he’s always found a way to rally the troops. Hopefully that will happen again this year.

One thing I do like, though, is that the team still seems to be on the same page. When a team goes south like the Bulldogs have, it’s normally accompanied by problems with attitude and sniping. But even when the team was down by 30 at home to Tabor last Saturday, it played hard and the players were encouraging each other, which helped it slice the deficit to 20 by game’s end.