Towson lacrosse: Seaman’s departure was expected, but still sad

May 09, 2011 | Drew Forrester

After 13 seasons at Towson University, Tony Seaman was dismissed as the head lacrosse coach on Monday.

The press release called it a resignation and Seaman himself even authored a romantic quote about “new challenges” and stuff like that, but anyone who knows Tony Seaman knows he didn’t quit.  He never would have done that.

That he was fired on Monday isn’t really a shock to anyone.  The Tigers were 3-10 this past season and haven’t won the CAA title over four straight seasons.  Seaman’s contractual status made it easy for Athletic Director Mike Waddell to pull the plug. Lots of folks around town were under the impression the former coach signed a 3-year contract extension last spring under then-AD Mike Hermann, but it turns out Seaman merely inked three, one-year deals as part of that extension.  It’s much easier to part company with someone when you merely don’t exercise year two rather than firing someone after year one and owing them two more years of money.

And that’s what Mike Waddell did on Monday.  He got out of the deal.

I went to Twitter on Monday and produced a tweet that announced Seaman’s departure and labeled it “a travesty”.  That got a few bozos up in arms at one of the local lacrosse web sites and earned me a handful of irate emails from people who wanted to tell me how much Seaman “sucks” and how he “ruined” the program at Towson.

The world is filled with reactionaries, a point I once again learned on Monday dealing with folks who wanted to lash out at me because I defended Tony Seaman.

Tony’s departure WAS a travesty, but not necessarily in the way some people might think.

The strange-twist of the Seaman era coming to an end isn’t as much about his dismissal, but more so the fact that Towson finally has an Athletic Director that might be on the verge of starting to build a new foundation of success at Towson University.

In other words:  I think Tony Seaman could have succeeded working under Mike Waddell and his administration.

Seaman, you’ll recall (unless you’d conveniently like to forget it) labored under the budget-restrictive Wayne Edwards-era and then plodded along – with nearly every other sports team – through five years of nice-guy Mike Hermann running the department at Towson.

Mike Waddell, it turns out, was a very good hire by Towson last September.  He’s put together an extremely competent staff in his 8 months on the job and for the first time in a long, long time, there’s actually a small sliver of light at the end of the Towson tunnel.

The travesty is that Seaman now won’t get to prosper from Towson’s bright decision to hire Waddell.  It should be noted – and therefore, I’m mentioning it here – that Seaman has been extended an offer by Waddell to stay on board in a yet-to-be announced position within the athletic department.  That’s a smart move, a generous one, and, frankly, an indication that Towson understands the real value of Tony Seaman, one of the best people you’ll ever meet in sports or anywhere else for that matter.

But the point about Seaman and his lacrosse program NOT getting to prosper from the vision and the work ethic of Mike Waddell shouldn’t go unnoticed here.

Isn’t that why colleges make changes in their athletic department in the first place?  They bring in new people to help their coaches and teams achieve success.  A new AD isn’t brought in to just fire all the coaches whose teams are struggling or underachieving.  Any goof can just show up and start handing out pink slips.  A new AD is supposed to bring new ideas, new concepts and a new way of thinking – and succeeding.

Ironically, I think Mike Waddell has done just that in his short time at Towson.  He’s implemented a lot of new ideas and new concepts…and a favorable future is no longer a pipe dream at TU.  It’s not going to happen overnight and there will be more losing before the winning starts in the main revenue sports, but Towson won’t be the CAA doormat in two or three years.

And that’s why Seaman’s departure was hard to digest when I heard the news on Monday.

Waddell didn’t have to fire Tony Seaman.

He could have drawn a line in the sand and said, “You know what, I can help Tony win lacrosse games if I – on behalf of the department – give him the help he needs to make his team the best it can be.”

He COULD have done that.

But he didn’t.

Waddell took the 3-10 season of 2010-2011 and a bunch of local losses to schools like Loyola and Hopkins and Maryland and wove it all into a blanket of distrust that Seaman was not, in fact, capable of turning his program around in a short amount of time.

When push came to shove, rather than see if Tony Seaman would benefit under his leadership, Mike Waddell listened to the masses who wanted Tony out.

And that’s a shame, really, because I think Waddell is good and I know Seaman is good.  And I also think they would have been really good for one another, Waddell being the young visionary who understands that the lacrosse team at Towson has the best chance for national prominence given the relative competitive nature of big-time lacrosse and Seaman being the older, wiser sportsman who has his finger on the Baltimore lacrosse community and knows what it takes to build a program and recruit against the powerhouses like Virginia, Duke, North Carolina and Johns Hopkins who raid the neighborhoods of Ruxton and Roland Park and Lutherville and take the area’s best players every year.

I’m not sure why Mike Waddell didn’t give Mike Waddell a chance to make an impact with Tony Seaman and his lacrosse program.  I think it would have been a good marriage.

Some of the so-called experts in town who just look at wins and losses and don’t know anything about the real inner workings of college athletics crowed about  how overdue Seaman’s departure was when the news broke on Monday.

What’s overdue, frankly, is Towson making a commitment to their athletic department.

For more than a decade prior to Waddell’s arrival, Towson talked-the-talk about sports, but they never really walked-the -walk. Under Waddell, they’re walking-the-walk.

It’s a shame Tony Seaman didn’t get to make that walk with Mike Waddell.

I think Seaman would have liked working for Mike Waddell.

And Waddell, had he given Seaman the chance to at least work with him for a full year, would have enjoyed having Tony Seaman on his team.

I would have bet the house on both of those statements.