For the seventh time in program history and the second under Bob Marlin, the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns are going dancing in the NCAA Tournament.
Yet, some people are still questioning whether Marlin has done anything during his 13 years in Lafayette.
Since 2010-2011, Marlin has a record of 247-174 at Louisiana with two appearances in March Madness, one appearance in the NIT, and a total of four conference championships (2011 was a three-way split). He’s the winningest coach in the history of the Sun Belt Conference, averaged 20+ wins for eight straight years from 2013-2021, and only has three sub .500 seasons at Louisiana.
He’s also a finalist for the Hugh Durham Award, given to the top mid-major basketball coach.
All of these statistics create a great resume, but yet some people feel it isn’t enough.
One of the first things I hear is “Marlin is the highest paid coach in the conference but he doesn’t perform like it.” He’s the winningest coach in the history of the conference and one of the winningest coaches in school history.
I’ve heard people say “making the tournament twice in 13 years just isn’t acceptable” and that “this team should make a legit postseason tournament every three or four years.”
They’ve done that under Marlin: NCAA in 2013-2014, NIT in 2017-2018, and now the NCAA in 2022-2023. That’s an average of four years.
What more can you ask for?
In mid-major basketball, making the tournament is incredibly difficult. Typically, conferences have 10-14 teams with only one automatic bid, which comes by winning the conference tournament. The Sun Belt hasn’t put multiple teams in the Dance since 2008 when South Alabama went 26-7 and received a 10 seed. For the last 15 years and throughout Marlin’s tenure, only one team has gotten in yearly.
Then, the argument of resources comes up. Louisiana has one of the highest athletic budgets in the conference, one of the nicest facilities, and a winning tradition. Which helps in terms of recruiting and engagement, but resources don’t win games for you. There’s a reason the month of March is called Madness. You just never know what’s going to happen during that early postseason stretch. So it’s easy to say “you won 20+ games in the regular season, but you failed if you don’t make the tournament” when that’s just not the case.
At the same time, there have been seasons under Marlin where the program struggled. Some people began to question how much longer he would lead the Cajuns. Group of Five programs go through up and down years. Not everyone can be Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, etc.
Every season has to be looked at with an unbiased view, and when it comes down to it, Marlin has consistently put Louisiana in a position to be a contender in the Sun Belt, winning it three times and playing in March.
Instead of wondering if his contract should be renewed, every Cajuns fan should be thanking Bob Marlin for the job he’s done leading this program and soaking up every second of being one of the final 68 teams left in America.
Louisiana will play Tennessee in a 4/13 matchup Thursday night in Orlando with tip-off set for 8:40 p.m. CT.