As soon as Johns Hopkins lost its third game in a row Saturday, I knew the letters and phone calls would come pouring in: Fire Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala.
It’s always the easiest solution. Fire the coach, and if that doesn’t work, fire the athletic director. And if that doesn’t work, fire the president, the mascot, the band and on and on and on.
Those who say such things really don’t understand the landscape of Division I college lacrosse anymore. There was a time, a few decades ago, when schools like Hopkins, Syracuse, Cornell and North Carolina dominated the sport, but not anymore.
There is such a thing as parity, which is why Duke and Loyola have become powers, and Bill Tierney has Denver right there knocking on the door. Because the Blue Jays failed to make the tournament last season, Pietramala has become an easy target for his critics.
But those three straight losses this season came against Syracuse, Virginia and North Carolina in tightly contested games. The Blue Jays are 5-3, so it’s hard to count them out at this point in the season. Remember, in 2011, Virginia became the first five-loss team and lowest national seed to ever win an NCAA title.
I love it when people say that, if Pietramala didn’t have Paul Rabil or Kyle Harrison, he would be just an average coach. And if Phil Jackson hadn’t had Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, he wouldn’t have all those NBA championship rings on his fingers either.
Here’s one thing I know about Pietramala: He might be the hardest-working coach in Division I. Sometimes it hurts him, but he is relentless in trying to win another national championship.
When you look at his overall record at Hopkins, it’s too early to start second-guessing him. In 14 years, he won national championships in 2005 and 2007, has appeared in six final fours and is six wins short of tying Bob Scott’s record for wins (158). Scott coached at Hopkins from 1955 through 1974.
I can understand the Hopkins alumni getting a little antsy at this point, but there is no reason for major concern. Times have changed. The pool of talent in lacrosse has increased over the years. The good teams have gotten better, and the great ones have returned to the pack.