The Life and Times of Mike Jarvis

Paul SieversAnalyst IDecember 3, 2008

Dear Florida Atlantic Basketball Fans,

It appears to all of us in the Big East conference that you guys have a nice little program down there in Boca Raton. Hell you even made an NCAA tournament in 2002. You have been playing division one basketball for 16 years and you have a conference title, that doesn't happen to everyone, ask Northwestern.

Unfortunately, you just hired the black sheep of our tight knit basketball family as your head coach and he is about to set your program back 17 years.

One could argue that no one man has done more damage to Big East basketball than Mike Jarvis. At first, Doctor Mike had us all fooled. He became the head coach of St. John's back in 1998 after the University fired Fran Fraschilla after Fran decided to whip it out during halftime when he was screaming and yelling at his players.

Doctor Mike was lucky enough to inherit a roster that was absolutely loaded with talent as three players from that team, most notably Ron Artest, would go on to play in the NBA. In his first year Dr. Mike brought the team to the Elite Eight where they ran into a hot Ohio State team and fell just short of the Final Four.

The next season Dr. Mike still had us led to believe he could coach as the team won the Big East tournament. After that season though, all of the talent Dr. Mike inherited left for one reason or another.

The next three and a half seasons, when Dr. Mike had to bring in his own players, St. John's fans were treated to fantastically uninspired basketball. Frankly, who could blame the players when you had a coach who felt he was too good to actively recruit, could never develop a big man and could never manage time outs. Doctor Mike's finest work came in 2003 up at Boston College.

Down by two points in the final seconds with an inbounds pass under the opposing basket, the Johnies had to burn their final two timeouts because nobody was open to receive the pass.

What struck me was both times the players were lined up the same way and moved in the exact same pattern. Surely on the third try they would have to mix it up a bit. Of course, they didn't and the result was a five seconds violation.

Boston College went on to win the game. It was vintage Jarvis. Why strategize during a time out when you have 60 seconds to yell at the refs? It was no wonder that Dr. Mike was close with Herm Edwards when Herm coached the Jets. Come to think of it, they're the exact same coach, just different sports.

When Jarvis finally resigned halfway though the 03-04 season the damage was striking. St. John's was now a doormat and attendance was half of what it was when Jarvis started. Local recruits no longer even considered St. John's as schools like Villanova and Pittsburgh became wildly successful with New York City kids. The same kids used to take a good look at St. John's before looking at any other school in the Big East.

In fact, Mike Jarvis did irrefutable harm to St. John's reputation with the local high school basketball programs, in particular the high powered New York City Catholic League.

Dr. Mike's philosophy was that recruits should come to him because it was an honor and privilege to be able to play for St. John's. One Catholic League Coach who had a number of major college prospects stated that Dr. Mike never stepped foot inside his gym during his tenure at St. John's.

Former Pitt guard Carl Krauser used to circle the St. John's game on his calendar because he took the way Jarvis recruited him personally. As hard as current Red Storm coach Norm Roberts has tried to rebuild the bridges to the local high schools, city prospects are still leaving the city for greener pastures.

Surely, after his coaching tenure at St. John's this man would no longer be allowed to associate himself with college basketball, much less the Big East. Somehow this was not the case as Dr. Mike was allowed to become a prominent color commentator for the Big East broadcasts.

If we thought that Dr. Mike had no idea what he was doing as a coach, it was confirmed once he started announcing. Ever since he left St. John's, Dr. Mike has delighted us with his inability to understand simple coaching strategies and his utter inability to ever tell us anything we did not already know. Dr. Mike provided us with insight alright, insight into why he was such an abject failure with St. John's.

This season Christmas came early for Big East fans as Mike Jarvis got the job at Florida Atlantic. It will be the first time since March of 1998 that Big East basketball is Mike Jarvis free.

Unfortunately now, you, the good people of Florida Atlantic must now deal with the problem that has plagued the Big East for the past decade. The best advice I can give you Owl fans is learn to take your own team with a grain of salt and laugh at the decline of your program. If you are unable to do that then maybe you might want to pillage your athletic offices; that would work as well.

                                                                    Best of Luck,

                                                                    Paul Sievers