That’s also what it may take for coach Michael Curry to retain his job.
“That won’t change my approach to trying to win that tournament,” Curry said. “I don’t worry about that stuff.”
Curry nearly didn’t get the chance to coach this long.
Following a 10-20 season last year. FAU president Dr. John Kelly discussed with then-athletic director Pat Chun, the topic of removing Curry. Chun resisted, citing the academic turnaround Curry oversaw in his first season, which kept the Owls from being placed on APR probation.
Fielding Top 25 teams is a priority for Kelly, who approved the firing of football coach Charlie Partridge after three 3-9 seasons, leading to the hiring of current coach Lane Kiffin. That move worked well for the Owls, who went 11-3, claimed their first Conference USA football title and won the Boca Raton Bowl.
Chun is no longer FAU’s AD, having accepting the same position at Washington St. On Saturday FAU announced the hiring of Brian White as Chun’s replacement.
That night the Owls ended their regular season with a loss to last-place Charlotte – a team that had lost 15 consecutive games and is one of only two C-USA teams that failed to qualify for the conference tournament.
Curry said he’s yet to meet White or talk with him on the phone, but the two have exchanged text messages.
“Every year when the season is over I sit down and evaluate and decide what I want to do just as well as management or administration does,” Curry said. “They always have to make a decision. Every year I make a decision as well as them.”
Curry has two years remaining on a contract that pays him $325,000 per year.
FAU’s record is 39-83 during his four-year tenure – 19-53 in conference play. Although FAU’s current 12-18 record its best under Curry, three of those wins came over NAIA teams. Aside from a vast improvement in academics, tangible signs of progress within the program have proven elusive.
The Owls have won only one postseason game during Curry’s time in Boca Raton. Earning a second win isn’t going to come easily. FAU, the No. 11 seed, lost to No. 6 seeded UAB 75-44 in January, an embarrassing showing that prompted changes. Following the loss Curry dismissed two players from the team and inserted guards Payton Hulsey and Justin Massey into the starting line-up.
“One thing we know about this team, they can go on really big runs against you,” Curry said of UAB.
Tip-off for Wednesday’s game against UAB is scheduled for 10 p.m. in Frisco, Texas. Should the Owls win three consecutive games, they’ll appear in Saturday night’s championship game with an NCAA tournament berth on the line.
Despite their troubles this year, Curry thinks this team is capable of making such a run.
“I’ve always believed if you can defend and rebound you have a chance to win three or four games in a row, and you have chance to win on the road or in neutral sites,” Curry said.