This year, I gave credit to Creighton coach Greg McDermott and his star son Doug McDermott for handling the unusual father-son coaching dynamic with almost zero fuss.
Greg McDermott submitted an All-American season for the Bluejays, and his father deftly coached the squad, and there was never a hint that the awkwardness that can infect those types of crossover relationships came into play. Anyone who's ever been coached or taught by a parent at any level (myself included; hi Mom!) can attest: That's not easy.
The St. Francis (Pa.) head coaching position isn't exactly like that, but it isn't entirely dissimilar, either.
Why? The Red Flash just hired longtime assistant Rob Krimmel as their new men's basketball coach. This wouldn't warrant much attention, but for the following facts: Krimmel just so happens to be the son of athletic director Bob Krimmel, and St. Francis hired him "without conducting a search or interviews with outside candidates," as the Altoona Mirror reported Friday.
That state of affairs naturally begs the question, fair or not: Was nepotism involved?
"Well, we did do everything by the book as far as HR is concerned," Ben Mitchell, director of athletic communications, told ESPN.com. "We ran it up the line. Since it was a promotion, we weren’t required to conduct a search. The move was approved by the president before it was made.
"I think it became apparent to everyone that we had the right head coach in house," Mitchell said. "Obviously Rob has been very loyal to the institution, embodies a lot of the things that ideally we were looking for."
The Krimmels also defended the decision to Mirror reporter Cory Giger:
Rob Krimmel, 34, addressed the potential criticism about nepotism by saying, "For the people that don't know me and don't know my father, absolutely that's going to be their response initially. But I will just ask those people to give us a chance.
"When I accepted the position," he added, "I understood that was going to come with the territory. The one great thing about it is it was a university decision. It just so happened that my father was part of that decision."
The Krimmels get it. Of course it looks fishy at first. No interviews? No other candidates? But Rob Krimmel was a member of the coaching staff before his father was the athletic director, and he has his own chops to boot: He's been a St. Francis assistant for 12 years, and he was a three-year starter for the Red Flash (and an ESPN The Magazine All-American) in the late 1990s.
Which is not to say Krimmel doesn't have plenty left to prove. His tenure at St. Francis has coincided with a score of losing seasons, most recently 2012, when the Red Flash finished 6-23 and just 5-13 in the NEC. St. Francis finished the season ranked No. 307 in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency rankings, and it was among the nation's 10 worst teams in turnover margin and defensive rebounding percentage.
And so Krimmel inherits -- no pun intended -- a massive rebuilding project at a school that has exactly five winning seasons in its past 34. Whether he can change that remains to be seen. If he does, rest assured no one will remember, or care, that his boss also happens to be his dad.