Two ESPN analysts weigh in on Lebo
Short summary: Typical season of Auburn basketball.
With that in mind, I spoke with Jimmy Dykes and Pat Forde recently about Lebo's situation. Dykes, as you probably know, is an analyst for many of ESPN's basketball telecasts and Forde is a popular ESPN.com guy. I see him on ESPN from time to time as well.
Here's what they had to say...
Former Arkansas player and coach
On his overall assessment of Lebo's job performance: ``Any real evaluation of Jeff Lebo, if you want to be fair to Jeff Lebo, can't be done until we see what he can do with the new arena. What he has to work with, that old arena -- it's an eyesore and a hindrance to everything they're trying to do."
On why he deserves more time: ``He's been playing from behind because of the facilities. I've been amazed at the job he's done so far. Nobody questions his ability to coach. He's great with the Xs and Os. Auburn deserved to finish dead last every single year with those facilities and the fact is that Jeff has done a lot better than that. Auburn needs to look itself in the eye and decide if it's been fair to Jeff Lebo."
On if it's fair to compare Auburn to Mississippi State (asked because MSU's basketball program, which also faces many of the same struggles, is consistently more competitive than Auburn's program): ``Auburn is much more of a football school. There's no doubt about it. We know where football ranks at Auburn -- both with the fans and on that campus. Basketball is much more of an emphasis at Mississippi State. It's not a fair comparison."
More on Lebo's value: ``Who are they going to get? Lebo has as good a pedigree as you'll find. He's a great coach. He has less resources than everyone else in that league. It's a fact. He's gotten the most out of the talent he's been able to get. A It's not like Auburn has done much to help him. The new arena is a big step forward."
Former Missouri student and Louisville columnist
On his overall assessment of Lebo's job performance: ``Auburn is pretty stagnant right now and I don't see much progress being made. Auburn is a football school. That's no secret. It's tough to overcome that pedigree, but that should be the goal. It shouldn't be that hard. In basketball, it takes fewer players to change your program. I just don't think Auburn is challenging for those kinds of players. Until that changes, I don't expect to see Auburn get much better."
On if it's even possible for Auburn to challenge for excellent players: ``Absolutely, it's possible. There are great players in that state. John Calipari has a few good ones. It's obvious there is talent there."
On if he thinks Lebo will improve: ``Here's a good way to put it -- he's trying to do it the right way in all ways. I'm talking about academics and behavior and the whole thing. There's a lot to be said for that, for running a clean program. The bigger problem for him may be that there isn't a basketball culture down there. That's something you don't create overnight."