Busting Brackets

DePaul Basketball: Tony Stubblefield fired after nearly 3 years as head coach

DePaul v Georgetown
DePaul v Georgetown / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Let’s look at DePaul, who fired Tony Stubblefield after less than three seasons leading the Blue Demons program with limited success.

The athletics brass at DePaul is not waiting until the season is over to make a major change to the basketball program, with Tony Stubblefield out as head coach after less than three full seasons. He finishes his career at DePaul just 28-54 and failed to make any headway against a tough Big East in his nearly three years in Chicago.

Native to Colorado, Stubblefield played college ball at a pair of schools, including Nebraska-Omaha back in the early 90’s. He got his coaching start with those Mavericks and spent nearly three decades as a collegiate assistant, with nearly all of that experience at the D1 level. Though he was interim head coach at New Mexico State back in 2005, this tenure at DePaul was his first head coaching experience at any level.

He was brought aboard back in 2021, fresh off an 11-year stint as an assistant to Dana Altman at Oregon. Stubblefield had previously worked for great coaches like Lou Henson and Mick Cronin and advanced to the Final Four with the Ducks as an assistant back in 2017. Clearly, he failed to make any comparable progress during his time in Chicago.

There looked to be potential for the Blue Demons, as Stubblefield’s squad went 15-16 in his first season, but it was all downhill from there. The team shed significant talent the next few seasons and won just ten games last season, with a disappointing 3-17 mark in conference play. The reason he didn’t make it through his third season is that the wheels really fell off the program these last few months.

At this current moment, the Blue Demons sit just 3-15 and have lost their first seven Big East games of the season. Their only wins came over South Dakota, Louisville, and Chicago State; three programs that aren’t exactly in impressive shape. Their offense and defense have taken turns being major disappointments, including giving up 100 points last week to Providence in what has become Stubblefield’s final home game.

Firing him in late January won’t save this season, and it’s certainly possible that DePaul will fail to win a single game in conference play. What this move does is that it allows the Blue Demons to begin a national coaching search behind the scenes in these coming weeks before the coaching carousel really gets going during March Madness. Stubblefield was cast aside with the hopes that they nail this next hire.

There will be all kinds of rumors and rumblings in the days and weeks to come about potential candidates for DePaul, but there’s the potential for something special here if the right coach comes to Chicago. Not only do they have that recruiting hotbed in their backyard, but the Big East remains one of the strongest basketball conferences and it’s a job that can be attractive if done right.

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Will DePaul nail this hire? The decision to tab someone from the West Coast with zero head coaching experience turned out to be a foolish move and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Blue Demons bring an experienced head coach to town. We’ll just have to see where this search takes them and if this next hire can finally turn the tide at DePaul.