Thursday’s Daily Briefing: Time for FAU to make sure Jarvis can keep this going
CORAL GABLES – A few weeks after he took the job at FAU basketball coach Mike Jarvis, in one of his first lengthy interviews, told me that one of the things he was proudest of in his career was when his St. John’s team was able to ring the bell to open trading on Wall Street after winning the NIT in 2003.
Well, thanks to Jarvis and the enthusiastic fan base he has almost single-handedly created he is ringing lots of bells these days. OK, ringing the Taylor Victory Bell may not get the same attention as the one he rang as coach pf the Red Storm, but to him it feels pretty good.
And why shouldn’t it?
It was probably official a few weeks ago, but in case you didn’t know, FAU basketball has arrived. It’s relevant and it’s getting better even after a first-round loss in the NIT to Miami on Wednesday night.
We know about the accomplishments of the team. It tied the school record for victories this season, and that was good enough for Jarvis to be named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. But what Jarvis did to cultivate and market the program and grow a fan base from nothing – where it likely would still be without his efforts – into what it is now is even more remarkable.
Take Wednesday night for instance. A few moments before tip-off, the bus loads of FAU fans in attendance outnumbered Miami fans – and that’s not an exaggeration. By the time the game started Hurricane supporters finally got to their seats and made up the majority of the crowd – but they were never louder than the group of Owl basketball supporters sitting behind their team’s bench.
Let that sink in – UM fans not only had to watch as FAU fans took over their own building but also had to sit and marvel at the support the Owls get from their fan base.
Now FAU needs to make sure this special thing Jarvis has going continues. That should start with a new contract for Jarvis, who after losing to the Canes, is now officially in the last year of his four-year deal. When Jarvis was brought in, he was seen as a risk. Now it seems all reward and FAU should try to do the right thing and secure Jarvis before other schools decide they might want a coach who can turn a program into a winner in three years and energize a fan base where one didn’t exist before.
FAU isn’t exactly rolling in the dough right now, but the coach deserves a raise and a contract that could keep the 65-year old Jarvis in Boca Raton until he decides to retire. If FAU is too poor to do that, the university could load a new contract with incentives – real incentives – tied to attendance. Or perhaps it could show its commitment by making sure a Jarvis is on the bench for years to come by putting his son, current associate head coach Mike Jarvis, II in a coach-in-waiting role.
But it’s obvious the university needs to do something. Anyone who has been to games in the last few years can tell FAU basketball scarcely resembles the program it was just a short time ago.
I think Jarvis can get FAU basketball to the point where an NCAA Tournament bid is possible every season and make the Burrow a special plase on game nights. That certainly has a nice ring to it.
We made yet another trip to Coral Gables for team-coverage of the biggest basketball game in years. Get a recap, post-game analysis, stats and video highlights by clicking here