|Jordan played his college ball at Rutgers and was an on-and-off assistant there for a few seasons, so the moves make total sense|
For an embattled major public university like Rutgers, in the middle of an athletic scandal its administration has never seen before, rebuilding its stripped-down men's basketball program will be a massive, and difficult process.
It may have started that process well by making one of the best possible moves it could to help reshape and re-define its image as a desirable place for recruits: Hire an alumnus as head coach.
Former coach Mike Rice's much-publicized departure from the New Jersey school — on the grounds of his verbal and physical abuse of his players — has certainly cast a pall over the college's athletic administration, with reasoned outrage coming from all different directions as to why such behavior was tolerated.
While that is definitely a very important issue to be discussed at some point, that is not the reason why a brand-name like Eddie Jordan is being expected to get the job at his alma mater. The reason is that he is a very experienced coach at both the NBA and college levels, who is looking to get into something new at this point in his career. And where better to make a career change than at somewhere that you have thrived before?
Although Jordan was out of the league for two years prior to his recent stint as an assistant with the Lakers, his resume –not spectacular, but pretty solid — speaks for his experience in high-stress, high-media-attention head-coaching positions.
The Washington, D.C. native — who led Rutgers to the Final Four in 1976 — began his NBA coaching career with the Sacramento Kings, where he served as an assistant for from 1992-97 before taking over as the head coach for the fired Garry St. Jean, serving in that position through the 1998 season.
Jordan then moved onto the New Jersey Nets, where he was lead assistant under Byron Scott's back-to-back Eastern Conference championships in 2002 and 2003. He then leveraged that position to take the reign of the Washington Wizards, his first real solo head-coaching job.
With the team from 2003-08, Jordan led the once-hapless Wizards to four straight playoff berths, before being fired in the beginning of the 2008-09 campaign with his team starting 1-10.
An uneventful one-year stint in Philly with the 76ers, break from the league, and another one-year stint as an assistant, with the Lakers, later, Jordan is basically back where he started, coaching the university where his NBA career was kicked off.
They do say that life operates in a cycle, which always seems to ring true for coaches as well.