An interview with a #FireMooney advocate

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Richmond Spiders head coach Chris Mooney is in his 13th season with UofR. He’s led his teams to seven post season appearances including a Sweet 16 trip in 2011, one of just two times the program has ever advanced that deep into the tournament. The Spiders have finished within the top-five of the final Atlantic 10 standings six of the past 10 seasons, including third this past year before earning an NIT appearance the Spiders would win two games in.

Sound like a success? Well that depends on who you ask.

Mooney’s one NCAA tournament appearance and current 1-8 start, his worst start in 13 years, combined with the seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances just down the street at VCU (not to mention a 2011 Final 4 upstaging  of Richmond’s 2011 Sweet 16), has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Spider fans.

With that, the calls for his replacement have grown louder by the year following his 2011 peek and have turned into a screaming siren after the 1-8 start.

You get the point…

Oh but wait, there’s even a “Fire Mooney” golf ball.

Needless to say, many Richmond fans appear to have had enough. We spoke with one such fan who has taken to Twitter to help push the movement to replace the head coach at Richmond, to try and get a closer look at the real concerns behind the Twitter bluster that’s spreading like wildfire.

A10Talk: I understand you’d prefer to stay anonymous, so without giving your name, can you tell us your connection to Richmond, how you became a Spiders basketball fan and how long you’ve been following the program?

Fire Chris Mooney: 20-year fan. Season ticket holder for half that time. Richmond Alumnus.

A10Talk: Before we get to the present, I’m curious what your initial reaction was to the Mooney hire from Air Force in 2006?

Fire Chris Mooney: I was definitely open minded and felt he was a better “fit” for Richmond as an institution than Jerry Wainwright.

A10Talk: Early on, Coach Mooney basically did a complete rebuild, playing young guys David Gonzalvez, Dan Geroit, Bryan Morris and Ryan Butler big minutes. They won just eight games with that incredibly young team before building up to a 20-plus win team for those 2009-2011 seasons, essentially the Mooney glory years. What did you think of that rebuild strategy at that time?

Fire Chris Mooney: He did what he had to do. The cupboard was bare and, largely, he recruited pretty well during a rebuilding period. There was not much talent left because of attrition from JW departure.

A10Talk: Obviously his proudest moment was that 2011 Sweet 16 run. Did you attend any of those tournament games and what was your opinion of Mooney then? How long of a contract extension did you honestly think he deserved at that point? Did you agree with them extending him for 10 years that year?

Fire Chris Mooney: Regarding 2011. I went to all the A10 games in Atlantic City but did not go to the NCAA games. I was very satisfied that we signed Mooney to the contract. In hindsight, it was a big mistake. We should have let Georgia Tech hire him and keep going with someone new … like VCU has done over and over again. Interesting factor was in play there. We lost several football coaches during that stretch. Miller was probably exhausted of losing coaches and searching for coaches.

A10Talk: When did you first think it was time to fire Mooney? What year(s) did that thought creep into your mind?

Fire Chris Mooney: The thought has swirled in my brain for several years. I always wondered if other factors had CM hamstrung… admission, absent athletic director with Gill…

Losing the way we did to Delaware and Jax State to start this season was the nail in the coffin. The moment we were down 43-11 to Delaware in the opener was a low point. Then we showed somethings in the second half. Then we reverted against Jax. That was it.

A10Talk: In your opinion, what does Mooney do well and what are his weaknesses?

Fire Chris Mooney: He relates to Richmond alums well. He is a questionable recruiter with rigid systems that take too long to learn. I also don’t think he motivated the team well.

A10Talk: Obviously you are on the Fire Mooney train and seem to be conducting it, but I’m curious if there is ANYONE you know who disagrees with firing him just yet and if so, what have been their reasons for holding on to him?

Fire Chris Mooney: I think a small handful of folks think that none of this is Mooneys fault. Recruiting is an admissions problem, for instance. That is a very small group now.

A10Talk: So what percentage of Spider fans would you think agree this should be his last season and what steps do you hear from alumni and boosters to make that actually happen?

Fire Chris Mooney: I think we are to 75% Fire / 25% he can stay/I’m ambivalent. Unfortunately, there is probably just a single alumnus that needs to be convinced for this to happen. His feelings are unknown.

A10Talk: Do you still attend games and also, do you know anyone who’s taken this to an actual boycott of games?

Fire Chris Mooney: I plan to attend games when convenient this winter but am satisfied when there are conflicts that come up. I know others that feel this way.

A10Talk: This past August after a third-place A-10 finish and an NIT appearance (plus two wins in that), Richmond extended Coach Mooney’s contract through the 2020-21 season. Some say that even if he deserves to be fired, frankly it’s not a great financial move due to the money tied up in his contract. What do you say to those folks who share that opinion? Basically that Richmond couldn’t fire Mooney right now even if they wanted to.

Fire Chris Mooney: It all comes down to the motivation of a handful of donors. If they are motivated enough, the money will be there.

A10Talk: If you could tell the new AD one thing in regards to this situation (because he’s gonna read this!), what would you tell him/ask him? What’s your honest plea, your case for Mooney’s removal?

Fire Chris Mooney: I would simply tell him that this is a long time coming. The performance this season is not a blip on the radar. It’s worse than it’s ever been, but it shouldn’t be just thrown out as an outlier.

A10Talk: Final question…What does your gut tell you…is this his final season?

Fire Chris Mooney: I’m an optimist by nature , but yes, my gut is telling me that this is it. Too much goodwill has already been lost with supporters to continue on.

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About Author

Mat Shelton-Eide

Mat Shelton-Eide has been involved in college athletics since 2007, starting as a co-founder of VCURamNation.com where he covered the Rams all the way to Houston as the one-time CAA darling shocked the hoops world with a historic run to the Final 4. He has worked within two Atlantic 10 athletic departments, first as a graduate assistant in the VCU Sports Information Department during the '09-'10 basketball season, then after receiving his M.Ed. from VCU's Center for Sport Leadership, as a ticketing and marketing intern in the University of Richmond's athletic department during the inaugural season of Richmond's Robins Stadium, months before the Spiders 2011 Sweet 16 run.

2 Comments

  1. If your not willing to give your name, your nothing but a coward and your opinion is completely irrelevant. Robert Levy

  2. Amen #FireMooney! I am of the belief that he should have been gone at least 3 years ago. His best players have been transfers (hi TJ Cline). Thought we had a respite when he got Buckingham and Sherod, but you can this season the cupboard is bare and depth doesn’t seem to exist. With the new AD I hope (and pray) this is is the last year of this.

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