“Glory Days, well they’ll pass you by, Glory Days.” -Bruce Springsteen
Those lyrics while referencing baseball tend to resonate with some when thinking about ETSU basketball. Fans reminisce and romanticize about the “Glory Days” of Mister Jennings, Calvin Talford, Greg Dennis, Marty Story, etc… We’ve all heard the tales of magical wins, the great upset of Arizona in the NCAA tournament and how ETSU basketball was the hottest ticket in the Tri-Cities. In that time, coaches Les Robinson and Alan LeForce built a power that was feared and respected among circles all over the nation. It wasn’t IF ETSU would win, it was when they win and by how many points. Fast forward to the Murry Bartow era. Wins losses, the struggles against Belmont, the dreaded zone defense, but memories of greats like Wadood, Fields, Sneed, Tim Smith, Mike Smith, Courtney Pigram, Justin Tubbs, Thomas, and countless others. Buc fans love these guys, we discuss great wins over Fresno State, the amazing comeback at the Roundhouse in 2004, cutting down nets for NCAA appearances. Yet most fans don’t feel as though we’re in a “Glory Days” era.
It got me to thinking, that and a few posts over at etsufans.com. What era has been the most successful in ETSU basketball history? I started looking at wins, losses, conference championships, postseason appearances, and even 20 win regular seasons. I ran everything but attendance and I didn’t run attendance because ETSU under Madison Brooks didn’t have the Mini-Dome to play in. So, after running the tale of the tape, if you base it on wins and postseason appearances alone, Murry Bartow is the most successful coach in ETSU history and we’re living the glory days. He’s had more postseason appearances than Robinson and LeForce combined. And, while Madison Brooks and LeForce are the only ones to win NCAA Tournament games, LeForce was let go after the program slipped from the “Glory days” and Brooks only had one postseason appearance in 15 years though he has the most wins of any coach in ETSU history.
So my opinion, which along with a nominal donation will get you ETSU season tickets available through etsubucs.com or by calling the ticket office, is each era was its’ own Glory days. We’re comparing apples and oranges. Basketball in the 1950’s and 60’s was completely different than the landscape of college basketball in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, and the college game is completely different today. Each of the more celebrated coaches in ETSU’s history have faced different challenges, with really a different style of game in each era. Given the landscape of what ETSU has gone through in the Murry Bartow era with athletics, his accomplishments have been nothing short of amazing. But the same goes for Robinson, LeForce, DeChellis and Brooks. Different eras, different conferences, teams, rules, styles of play, but all of the above should be celebrated by Buc fans with the coaches all being in the ETSU Hall of Fame.