Reporting Colin Dunlap
Go West, young man.
Heck, North or South will do.
Just go anywhere you can, Andy Toole — and do it now.
Your work at Robert Morris is finished.
Robert Morris gave Toole a chance as the nation’s youngest NCAA Division I head men’s basketball coach in May of 2010 when he was 29; on Tuesday night in a 59-57 win against vaunted Kentucky, Toole gave the program not just their highest-profile moment and grandest exposure, but a program-changing win.
Now, as Toole is set to turn 33 in September, it’s time to realize his work in Moon Township is complete.
And there’s nothing wrong with such a notion.
It’s simply business…on both ends.
Not to be the buzz kill here, but Toole shouldn’t coach many more games for RMU. Simply put, when this NIT run is over, makes no difference how much of a raise university president Greg Dell’Omo wants to give Toole or what promises he bestows the coach, the Andy Toole era must come to an end.
For Toole — who has already collected 68 career wins — the suggestion is simple.
No one got into coaching to coach at Robert Morris.
Young coaches dream of coaching home games at Rupp Arena, not coaching against Kentucky in their tiny bandbox gym in the NIT when Rupp Arena is unavailable.
That said, if the career arc for Toole is an offer from somewhere as lofty as an Atlantic 10 school, or even somewhere more of an incremental jump like a MAC, Ivy League or Patriot League program, Toole must go and go now. No matter what efforts are made by Robert Morris to keep him.
Staying at Robert Morris does him, purely, no climbing toward that ultimately goal.
No one strikes when they are cold, and Andy Toole, almost-certainly, will never be this hot again. At least while he’s at RMU.
Correspondingly, look at it from the university end.
When you hire a coach such as Andy Toole — heck, when you hire any coach — isn’t the ultimate goal for both you and the coach advancement? The ceiling, frankly, is only so high at RMU. If Toole is to go (and he almost certainly will have a reasonable list of suitors) there are far worse predicaments the university could be in than the one they would face.
The reality is this for Robert Morris if Toole leaves: President Dell’Omo would need to replace a coach who left for a higher-profile job, who got the job because the coach before him left for a Big East (which became a Big Ten) job.
Find me the negative in the past two coaches leaving for healthier opportunities?
Conversely, that’s a glaring positive as Dell’Omo could reasonably bill RMU to his next potential hire as a springboard to bigger and better things — and it wouldn’t at all be inaccurate.
Just after Toole’s Colonials beat Kentucky in that NIT stunner on Tuesday, the coach joined 93.7 The Fan and was a tad resistant to speak about the future.
“Who I’m happy for is our players, who did all the heavy lifting, who did everything you have to do to win a game like that,” Toole said. “That’s who I’m excited for. We will worry about what goes on in the future, in the future.”
For Toole, the future is, definitely, now.
And that future shouldn’t include Robert Morris, no matter how much of a push they make to keep him.
It’s just business.
It will be Toole’s job to do the best thing for himself and his family, and Robert Morris’ job to find the next Andy Toole.
Former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports Writer Colin Dunlap is the featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10p-2a on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com.