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November 17, 2012

Instant analysis: Cubit fired

With the news of head coach Bill Cubit's termination following Saturday's 29-23 loss to Eastern Michigan, a flood of thoughts must be going through every Bronco fan's head on this night.

It's hard to imagine that the eighth year coach's job hinged on today's result; surely, such a huge decision wasn't made in only a couple of short hours following an emotional loss. But if rumors are to be believed, this was weeks in the making.

I need to emphasize that what I'm about to talk about will deal with speculation and not sourced fact. The only fact we know is that Cubit is done at Western Michigan. The official athletics website confirms as much.

There have been rumblings, however, that the issues surrounding this program were deep-seated by the end of this season. Simply from being around the athletic department, staff at BroncoBlitz.com had heard much about high-level officials being very unhappy. Some talked of the players losing their faith in their coach. Kathy Beauregard giving Cubit a vote of confidence did little to sway anyone's opinions, as all fans know how much weight those carry.

The bottom line is that this program is not any closer to a conference championship after Cubit's eighth year than they were after his first. A 4-8 record this year, as ugly as it is, is only the straw that broke the camel's back, not the real reason this decision was made. Even the 3-5 mark against Central Michigan has little to do with it. This is a league where the conference title is the ultimate goal, and there was no indication WMU was close to that goal.

Fans that have been around since 2005 or earlier surely are surprised by the trend of this program. The safe bet after Cubit's first year was that he'd be moving up in the coaching ranks. After all, he took a program coming off a 1-10 year, where the cupboard was widely considered bare, and took them to a 7-4 mark, the biggest turnaround in MAC history.

Since 2009, though, WMU's record is a picture of mediocrity. Forget the overall record. WMU is 16-16 against their peer MAC institutions since that year, and this is a university that is trying to instill a championship culture. Therein lies the decision to move on.

Amongst all the negativity, it's important to look at the positives that came out of Cubit's tenure. Even with this year's 2-6 mark, only one coach in WMU history (Al Molde) put together a better winning percentage in conference play. The school's history is littered with coaches under .500. It's far from the end anyone wanted, but Cubit will not go down as a poor coach in WMU annals.

He also leaves this program in better shape than his predecessor. While the state of the 2013 recruiting class (and possible attrition elsewhere) remains to be seen, whoever is hired by this athletic department has talent to work with. There's a senior quarterback with experience, a dynamic young wideout, four senior running backs, and an improved defense returning most key players. A bowl, or dare I say a championship, is not completely out of reach.

There's simply a time that almost every coach runs their course. Coaches with great longevity at one school are revered for a reason; they're extremely rare. In this particular conference, they're essentially non-existent. Cubit's eight years are about as many as anyone gets in the MAC.

It's worth noting, too, that Cubit is hardly alone in his inability to win a championship at WMU. Whatever the reason, this program has one outright MAC title. While I don't think that's a valid excuse, and I commend WMU for expecting more, it's worth talking about when sizing up the Cubit era.

Cubit's time in Kalamazoo was up, and few would argue it. But maybe this is a day to celebrate some accomplishments made by someone who put eight years of hard work and class into this program, not a time to deride someone for not achieving his ultimate goals.

One thing's for sure: the 2013 offseason just became very interesting.

Stay tuned to BroncoBlitz for much more coverage of this story and the upcoming coaching search.

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