Former TCU basketball player and Pittsburgh Panthers Head Coach Jamie Dixon has signed on to become the new men’s basketball head coach at TCU, according to reports by CBS and ESPN.
This is incredible news and a complete Godsend for our men’s basketball program.
Just look at his resume: Put simply, all he does is win.
Compare that to the current TCU basketball experience. The Horned Frogs were 59-79 overall under Trent Johnson and finished dead last in the Big 12 in 2016. The transition from the Mountain West to the Big 12 occurred prior to Johnson’s first season with the Horned Frogs. Before Johnson, Jim Christian was 56-73 in his four seasons with the program.
The last time the Horned Frogs were in the NCAA tournament was in 1998 under Billy Tubbs. TCU hasn’t won a tournament game since 1987, when Dixon was on the roster. Think about that.
With Dixon , Pitt has had success that the Frogs simply haven’t been able to dream of: four Big East tournament championship game appearances in five seasons (2004, 2006, 2007 2008), a Big East Tournament Championship in 2008, and NCAA tournament appearances in 11 out of the past 13 years under Dixon’s leadership (2004–11, 2013-2014, 2016), including trips to the Sweet Sixteen (2004, 2007, 2009) and Elite Eight (2009).
The stage is set for that type of success to be possible here in Fort Worth. Imagine the sales-pitch Dixon can sing to possible four and five-star recruits: “I’m a guy who is a proven big-time winner who can teach you what it takes, and make you successful at a Big 12 school (a conference that sent seven of its ten teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2016), and you’ll be playing in a state-of-the-art 72 million dollar basketball palace. Oh, and by the way the girl-guy ratio at TCU is 60 percent female and 40 percent male, according to the U.S. News and World Report.
When a recruit asks Coach Dixon about our lack of recent basketball success, Dixon can respond with something along the lines of, “That makes it very possible for a freshman to come and be a starter on Day 1 because I’m just going to play the best players on the roster, regardless of how long someone has been in the program.”
What big-time high school basketball player could say no to that kind of sales pitch? I know I certainly wouldn’t.
Under Dixon, the Frogs have an outstanding chance to become a perennial Top-25 program in the next three years.
This coaching change also speaks volumes about Chis Del Conte and the TCU Athletic Department. While we have secured top coaches and facilities for the football team and baseball team, which are sports that TCU is annually a top-ten program, basketball has been far away from top-ten program status, despite pouring in top dollar on a stadium.
The one thing that was missing was that big name coach. Don’t get me wrong, Trent Johnson is a great man and did recruit well for the situation he was placed in, but he and his players just were not winning the close ball games. Many a time after a tough Big 12 loss, he would open up a press conference by saying a variation of, “We fought hard, but just weren’t quite good enough to get over the hump and win the game tonight.”
While TCU spent millions of dollars to build a stadium, we also needed a coach who could get us over the hump. While Jamie Dixon’s salary at Pitt was similar to that of Johnson’s at TCU, Dixon was under contract with Pitt through 2023 unless a school was willing to pay Pitt ten million dollars to buy him out of his contract.
So in addition to paying Dixon anywhere from his 1.4 million base salary at Pitt to the 3.2 million he earned this year after bonuses, the university had to be willing to pay an extra ten million (or some negotiated number thereof) just for him to have the ability to leave Pitt.
Since Dixon has agreed to become our new coach, that means Del Conte and the athletic program felt it was worth it to invest in a quality coach, which is one ginormous step in the right direction to turning our current Big 12 last place-finisher into a championship contender worthy of playing in a 72 million dollar mansion of a basketball stadium.
I’m proud of our basketball program, and I can’t wait for basketball season next year.