TIM SHELTON LEAVES SDSU, RUMORED TO JOIN FRESNO STATE COACHING
Tim Shelton was an indelible part of Aztecs basketball. With his exodus the line to fill his position is long and very talented.
Did Justin Hutson Hire Tim Shelton at Fresno State? Is This Acceptable in the Mountain West Conference?
Tim Shelton: San Diego State University student; Aztecs basketball player; TES the Rapper; SDSU Graduate; Aztecs basketball video coordinator; San Diego State Aztecs Assistant Coach; Fresno State Bulldogs Assistant Coach.
It has been a privilege and a great joy for this SDSU alum and writer to witness the uprising of the Aztecs basketball program. From the hiring of Steve Fisher and Brian Dutcher; to the construction of Viejas Arena (one of the top NCAA basketball venues in the U.S.), to the ascent of the Aztecs basketball team- first in dedication, then in results, then in elite defense status, then to Sweet Sixteen status, to now an improving offense: the Aztecs program is still on the rise.
Tim Shelton was a consistent thread in the rise of the Aztecs, and a beloved player-turned coach. That is why the news today comes as a great shock to Aztecs fans everywhere. Tim’s athleticism, his spirit, and his mentorship was thought to be a given in the Aztec Nation.
But alas, Tim Shelton has left the Mesa.
Brian Dutcher is not Steve Fisher. He will bring a Brian Dutcher style of play; a Brian Dutcher philosophy to coaching, and he will lead a coaching staff that does the bidding of Brian Dutcher. As such, his staff might best be selected personally by (anyone?) Coach Dutcher himself. The staff will be grateful for the opportunity and follow his lead. They will not compare his every move to Steve Fisher, because they did not work for Fisher.
Let’s face it: Tim Shelton and former Aztecs Head Coach in Waiting Justin Hutson were Steve Fisher’s assistant coaches, along with Brian Dutcher. While they shared Fisher’s vision, who’s to say they see the world Coach Dutcher’s way? A regime change is seismic and chaotic.
In chaos one finds opportunities, and it’s hard to say whether Justin Hutson was content to be Dutcher’s associate head coach in waiting, or if he was waiting to see if Dutcher would succeed in filling Steve Fisher’s shoes. It’s also hard to say if former Coach Rodney Terry’s exodus from Fresno State presented an opportunity Hutson would not have seen for another ten years with the Aztecs.
Not everybody has Brian Dutcher’s eternal patience.
Tim Shelton had a lot to gain from Justin Hutson’s exodus, considering the line to the Head Coach’s chair just became shorter. Sure, Shelton does not have the breadth of experience of Hutson: but he had the support and faith of San Diego State, for whom he gave his blood, sweat and tears (and sweet lyrics). He had a home for the future- and that is a lot more than many can say. He also had the opportunity to go under Brian Dutcher’s tutelage and continue the legacy that Steve Fisher began- albeit a long journey.
Tim Shelton may have a lot to gain going to Fresno, if that is his destination. He could also have much to lose. Fresno State is not San Diego State, and Tim Shelton was not a building block in their program. Fresno State does not have a fan base pulling for Shelton through good times and bad, and Save Mart Center is definitely not Viejas Arena.
It’s too early to say if Shelton joins the Bulldogs. If so, the “boo’s” when he enters Viejas wearing a Bulldogs lapel pin could be deafening.
It’s notable that, if Shelton lands at Fresno State, this move by Hutson could raise a few questions among Mountain West Conference Athletic Directors. If Hutson is performing chain migration from San Diego State to Fresno State, who’s to say it ends with coaches?
For example, recent SDSU recruit Jordan Campbell just recently requested release from the Aztecs (but said “he may still come”). Is it possible that Hutson and company could be asking Campbell to join the Bulldogs?
If so, somebody may have to put the smelling salts under Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson’s nose. He may need to suit up and clarify what standards the Mountain West Conference universities exercise.
With 351 Division 1 programs in Mountain West teams should be able to find talent out of conference, instead of from within. Hutson may have accepted the Fresno State job with Brian Dutcher’s blessing, but who knows if he discussed Shelton, or any other potential migrants. Hutson is also rumored to be hiring UNLV Assistant Keith Brown.
Coach Dutcher may recognize this as an opportunity to deepen coaching talent. Our new head coach has delivered a Mountain West Tourney win and a trip to the NCAA Tournament during his first year as Head Coach. For that he deserves our faith and confidence.
It is without question that members of the Aztec Nation are truly heartbroken over Shelton’s move given his Aztecs legacy.
The best we can do is wish Tim well, and be gracious when we defeat Fresno State- a university with apparently no qualms about hiring staff away from other Mountain West university athletics programs.
“Black. Red. I believe that we- ’nuff said.”
Good luck, Tim.