CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It is said beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In that vein, a new list offers more proof that Marshall's rebuilding to relevance in men's basketball still has a ways to go.
The Herd had the highest RPI ranking for a team without an NCAA Tournament bid, and also played the No. 9 ranked non-conference schedule this season ... then was shuffled off to an NIT road opener at Middle Tennessee State, and promptly lost.
Before the loss to the Blue Raiders, one of the reasons Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick candidly opined on the snub was the fact that Herd hoops has been out-of-sight, out-of-mind, for so long.
It's not supposed to work that way, and you do have to wonder whether MU Coach Tom Herrion himself wonders if "it" can be done at Marshall.
Anyway, in the latest issue of Basketball Times, Hoops Scoop analyst Clark Francis is out with his publication's latest top coaches list. There's the list of the top 50 college coaches, the top coaches in mid-career (6-20 years in Division I) coaches, the top up-and-coming coaches (five or fewer seasons).
Herrion is nowhere to be found, although he won 80 games in four years at College of Charleston and is 43-26 in two Marshall seasons.
If Herrion isn't among those top 30 "mid-career" guys - a list topped by Cincinnati's Mick Cronin, Tommy Amaker of Harvard and Gregg Marshall of Wichita State - then it must be because the Herd coach sweats through his dress shirt on the sidelines.
On the top 50 list, West Virginia's Bob Huggins is ninth - sandwiched between Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan - and deserves to be. Everyone in that top 10 has been to at least two Final fours, and Huggins is the only one in that first 10 who hasn't won an NCAA title.
Hey, maybe it's a Conference USA thing. Around the league, a common refrain is that the conference office doesn't do nearly enough to promote and advance its hoops product. Of course, Memphis, Southern Miss, Marshall and UCF going 0-4 in the NCAA and NIT doesn't help, either.
The only C-USA coaches in that top 50 of veterans are near the bottom - UTEP's Tim Floyd (47) and Larry Eustachy (50) of Southern Miss. The "mid-career" list has no C-USA coaches. Alone from the league on the five seasons-or-less list is No. 2 Josh Pastner of Memphis ... no Donnie Jones of UCF.
Marshall does get some props on the top 100 assistants list, where WVU's Larry Harrison is 11th. The Herd's Jorge Fernandez is the highest-ranked C-USA assistant, but he's only No. 57. Fellow MU assistant Dino Presley ranks No. 71.
The only other C-USA assistants on the list are former Herd aide Shawn Finney of UCF (77) and the Houston pair of Alvin Brooks (84) and Ulric Maligi (100). By the way, new Tulsa head Coach Danny Manning was right behind Finney, as a Kansas assistant.
As for Herrion, all he can do is what he's done and still doing ... recruiting above Marshall's recent past, scheduling bigger than most, and telling those who will listen and are paying attention that the road to relevance is what his program is traveling.
* * *