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“Remind me again why we fired Jody Runge?”

No, it’s not just me.

Syndicated cartoonist Jan Eliot has stepped up to voice her displeasure with the University of Oregon’s decision to keep coach Paul Westhead:

Bottom of the Pac

Once upon a time, Oregon had a women’s basketball team that won a Pac-10 championship and consistently went to the postseason.

Mac Court was filled with happy fans and Kidsports teams who waited post-game to get their shirts and programs signed by players. We even beat Stanford. But UO still fired coach Jody Runge and hired a former player. Under Bev Smith we stayed in the middle of the Pac. But after awhile they fired her too. So it goes in sports.

Then UO hired Paul Westhead. With experience in the NBA and WNBA, he was said to be quite a catch. He got a far more lucrative contract than any other women’s basketball coach. Four-and-one-half years and $3.2 million later, what do we have? Consistent ranking at the bottom of the Pac. No postseason. Injuries. And a dubious coaching strategy.

After playing us recently, UConn coach Geno Auriemma was quoted as saying, “Where I grew up, if you played like that, you wouldn’t be allowed to play anymore, because some of the shots that they take are just indescribable.”

Maybe UO is just waiting for Westhead’s contract to run out. My question is, do they care enough about women’s basketball to actually search for and hire a young, motivated, energetic, talented coach?

Last time I went to a game the overhead screens ran video throughout the game — not team footage, but highlights of Westhead’s career. Why?

Remind me again why we fired Jody Runge?

Jan Eliot


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