ETSU Whistles By the Graveyard as the Basketball Program Falls

Marky Billson
5 min readMar 6, 2022

Before one can address the program, the Bucs first have to admit there IS a problem! And as is their manner, they may be repeating the sins of a previous failed administration.

Marky Billson

Years ago, 1983, the San Francisco 49ers met the Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship Game for the right to play in Super Bowl XVIII.

The Washington Post lamented the 49ers appearance in the game. While San Francisco was a heavy underdog, these were still the Joe Montana-Niners, and legitimate competition for the defending Super Bowl champion Redskins.

Unlike, the Post felt, the Detroit Lions, who the 49ers had defeated 24–23 to get to the NFC Title Game. That game came down to a last second field goal attempt by Detroit’s Eddie Murray, which had Lions head coach Monte Clark closing his eyes and putting his hands together prior to the eventual miss.

And so the Post came up with this gem:

“[San Francisco head coach] Bill Walsh coaches. Clark prays.”

The defining image of Clark’s career

I’m reminded of this when I read how first-year ETSU head men’s basketball coach Desmond Oliver cried during the press conference after the Buccaneers’ 84–76 overtime loss to The Citadel in the 2022 Southern Conference Tournament.

Previous ETSU coaches coached. Oliver cries.

Yet despite a public persona exuding something less than leadership in the moments after his first season at the helm, this column is not going to suggest a coaching change. Even though ETSU posted their first losing season in nine years (15–17) and only their third of the century, Oliver has four years left on his contract, and came close enough in enough games to provide hope (10 losses were either in overtime or by no more than four points) with a small but promising nucleus of talent slated to return.