Bill Carmody has many excuses on his side. Poor facilities; a restricted recruiting field; a program drenched in infamy. He's not interested in making excuses.
"There is no ceiling on our program and there are no significant barriers holding us back," Carmody said.
Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips announced on Thursday that Carmody would return for a 13th season as head coach. Carmody has compiled an overall record of 179-191, but has failed to lead Northwestern to its first ever NCAA tournament appearance.
After a disappointing finish to the season, ending in a 21-point blowout from Washington in the NIT second round, Carmody's future was called into question. His supporters used the many excuses as a defense; his critics point out the 12 tournament misses.
Carmody's tenure as head coach has been riddled with disappointment, but he can easily point to the program's many drawbacks. By suggesting there are "no signficant barriers" with Northwestern, he is placing the onus on himself.
“I want to be clear about our expectations: While we’re in a better place today than we’ve ever been, it’s not enough," said Carmody. "We intend to compete for Big Ten championships and achieve NCAA tournament success."
In saying Northwestern faces no barriers, Carmody can't be completely honest.
Given Northwestern's gruelling academic standards, Carmody faces a limited recruiting field, compared to his coaching colleagues.
In January of 2011, Northwestern was ready to welcome 6-foot-9 forward Donovan Kirk, a Miami transfer, to the program. However, Kirk was not allowed admittance to NU, leading him to DePaul. He played in 23 games during his first season with the Blue Demons.
Carmody is forced to sell Northwestern's below-average facilities to recruits, who are often awestruck by state-of-the-art facilities with iPods in the locker room showers (Nebraska basketball players have it made).
Welsh-Ryan Arena is 59 years old, and in desperate need of renovations. Carmody is forced to describe the building as "historic" and "timeless," rather than "old" and "past its prime."
The many hurdles Carmody faces have kept him from bringing in the nation's top talent. He's not using that as an excuse.
"There are challenges here, not any barriers," said Carmody. "I think there are enough good players out there, a pool of good players who are also good students that like Northwestern that we like."
Carmody believes in himself, his players and plan. No excuses. He must hope that is enough to reach the NCAA tournament. If not, it will likely cost his job.