Binghamton fires coach at strange time

On its face, there is little mystery to Binghamton's firing of coach Mark Macon, which the school announced Monday afternoon via Twitter. The Bearcats went 2-29 in 2012. When you go 2-29 in a season -- when you flirt with a winless season and you're a charter regular in the Bottom 10 -- it isn't all that difficult to figure out why you might be fired. Your basketball team was bad. The school wants it to be better. End of story.

Still, Macon's situation at Binghamton was not a typical one, and the timing of this decision certainly follows suit. Why fire a coach now, weeks after the height of the coaching carousel, when candidates are sparse in the first place? What happened between the end of the Bearcats' season and Monday afternoon? Why delay the decision?

Macon doesn't know the answer to that question. It will be up to athletic director Patrick Elliott to provide the answers in the coming days as he begins a search for the coach that can lift Binghamton out of its post-scandal doldrums and begin a new, less depressing era at the school.

Because Macon's job was never an easy one. Binghamton fell into shambles after Kevin Broadus was fired amid an academic and drug-related scandal and the resulting score of departures and sanctions by both the school and the NCAA. Macon's job was less about winning -- though apparently that could have helped -- than restoring the priorities of a proud academic institution and reducing the lingering embarrassment from the Broadus fiasco.

Clearly, Elliott will be looking for a coach with those priorities in mind. The last thing Binghamton needs is even a whiff of another scandal, or academic impropriety. But it's just as clear that the Bearcats AD isn't content with the trajectory of the program on the court. Three years ago, Binghamton men's basketball would have been happy merely to exist. Now, that very low bar isn't high enough.

As he searches for that coach, Elliott will have to explain why Macon wasn't the man for that job -- and why Binghamton didn't realize as much until April 30.