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Thompson’s departure comes as no surprise

Fred Thompson’s resignation on Monday afternoon did not come as a huge shock.

He had just finished up his fifth season as the men’s soccer head coach with a final record of 4-13-2, to push his career record at BG to 18-69-8.

After having only eight wins in his first three years as head coach, Thompson’s team looked to be turning things around late in the 2007 season when they finished with three straight regular season wins to give them six on the year. Then came the 2008 season, the Falcons won four games and the team looked to be in disarray.

Aside from horrible performances in games, things also began getting ugly off the field. Players began complaining about Thompson’s style of coaching. During a four game stretch where BG didn’t score a single goal, one player let slip that Thompson wasn’t practicing offense or running plays during practice. Aside from just that incident, several players confessed to not even being on the same page as Thompson half of the time.

Players not getting along with Thompson has been something that’s been going on for a while now though. Over the course of his five years at BG, over 20 players have left the program via transfer, or just plain leaving the team.

One former player, George Davis, never succeeded in Bowling Green under Thompson. He transferred after his sophomore season and later became a national player of the week with the Kentucky Wildcats.

Other players have left the team because of academic problems, such as Matt Klancic, who sat out the entire 2008 season after failing to meet the academic standards.

Examples such as that of Klancic, are examples that show a lack of discipline. When BG was looking for a coach after Mel Mahler was fired back in 2004, the athletic department stated the new coach needed to have discipline. That, as it turns out, was something Thompson lacked.

At least six times over the course of Thompson’s career, a men’s soccer player turned up in the blotter. The most recently came in the past year, when Cameron Hepple was cited for operating under the influence.

What’s more, Thompson’s recruiting has also taken a hit. BG once ruled the state of Ohio. The state’s best recruits went to the state’s best soccer team, which, under Mahler was 111-76-13. In Mahler’s tenure, BG consistently dominated the Mid-American Conference, and even appeared in eight conference championship games.

Thompson, meanwhile, has appeared in zero. Nowadays, Akron rules the state. They’ve won two consecutive conference championships, and made as high as No. 2 in the nation this past season.

Now instead of finding the best recruits in the state, and building a close to home fan base, they now have to go to different regions of both the country and planet to find talent.

The biggest flop has to be Vuk Krkeljic. The freshman came in from Serbia with a load of promise. Thompson and assistant coach Ken White both expressed their excitement about him, and each said they expected him to score a lot of goals in his career with BG. Instead, Krkeljic finished the season with zero goals, zero assists, and saw his playing time diminish after he began having problems off the field.

It’s no doubt that the men’s soccer team has a deep hole it needs to climb out of. With Thompson stepping down, the healing might be able to begin.

However, with this team, it seems the only way to turn things around is to level everything and start over from scratch. Bring in a fresh set of newcomers next season, without putting lofty expectations on them. Then provide them with veteran leadership, such as that offered by Jacob Lawrence.

One thing that needs to be expected from here is that the team isn’t going to change things overnight. A new coach is not going to come in and suddenly make this a winning team, or even a .500 team.

What BG needs now is a coach who can find a way to match Mahler’s win totals with a whole new approach both on and off the field.

For news, notes and opinions on all BG sports, check out www.bgnewssports.com.

Contact sports reporter Jason Jones at [email protected].

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