April 7th, 2015 – The excitement is back for ETSU men’s basketball. When the announcement was made that long time head coach Murry Bartow would not be retained as head coach, it created a buzz across coach who was one of the winningest coaches in the history of the program, had taken the team to multiple postseason appearances and never finished worse than fourth during the Bucs time in the Atlantic Sun. Nationally, people didn’t understand that fans were tired of the same ol’, same ol’. 15-20 wins a year, no real shot at winning an NCAA tournament game or two like it was when Ed DeChellis, Alan LeForce or Les Robinson were around. Even coach Bartow had become complacent on the sidelines. Fans were drinking the sand, accepting a program that had sunk into mediocrity in the A-Sun. Then something happened, ETSU brought in a new president and athletic director. All this new energy saw the women’s program get a young, energetic coach that was able to mold a talented, but underachieving group into nearly winning the Southern Conference tournament this year over nationally ranked Chattanooga. Then the whispers started happening. Private messages, text messages, and phone conversations everywhere that a change was imminent. Could it be true? Then it happened. Speculation over the 16th head coach at ETSU was rampant. Bucs fans had set their sights on long time Tennessee assistant coach Steve Forbes, who had made his way out to Wichita State to work with Greg Marshall after a dustup with the NCAA. So many candidates, Mike Morrell, Keith “Mister” Jennings, even long time UTC coach and ETSU alum John Shulman was mentioned to be in the mix along with Forbes. Then ETSU athletic director Dr. Richard Sander made the magic happen, he brought in Steve Forbes, and sent a shock wave throughout college basketball. ETSU fans couldn’t be happier. You can sometimes gauge excitement by the activity on a message board. ETSU’s season has been over for a month now, and fans are already posting about next season. There’s talk that even fans who are upset over the Freedom Hall move are ready to come back just because they believe the Bucs have a shot to return to the Glory Days.
I tend to agree. Coach Forbes was an amazing assistant coach at Tennessee, working as Bruce Pearl’s right hand man to the most successful run the Vols had been on since the Ernie and Bernie show. He does come with baggage. The show cause penalty is what it is, but in his time in the juco ranks he led a team to a ton of success, then joined up with Greg Marshall and the Shockers. He’s a ton of different experiences, lots of recruiting ties all over the southeast, and is very engaging with the public. It’s safe to say that Sander & Co. didn’t just a hit a homerun, they hit one that hasn’t landed yet. If it wasn’t for the excitement of football returning on September 3rd against Kennesaw State at Kermit Tipton Stadium with a kickoff at 7pm (That’s a hint to get your tickets and be there), Buccaneer Nation would be ready for basketball 2015-2016.