Raising Hell – From the desk of Nathan Hellman

Tim Bennett has stepped down from his post as head soccer coach to accept an associate head coaching position at Iowa State. Quite the news flash, huh?

Tim Bennett has stepped down from his post as head soccer coach to accept an associate head coaching position at Iowa State.

Quite the news flash, huh?

Well, not exactly, because if you’ve been around Portland State for the last three or four years, it’s likely you recall a similar scenario unfolding after the 2004 season concluded.

After the Vikings wrapped up what was maybe their best season ever on the soccer pitch-winning the Big Sky Conference regular-season title and hosting the Big Sky Tournament-head coach Tara Erickson decided her time in the South Park Blocks was over. Erickson packed up a headed south to Eugene, choosing to coach the Ducks instead of the Vikings.

Maybe you’ve never even heard of Erickson, or knew Portland State has a soccer team, as the program is often and unnecessarily considered an afterthought among Viking fans. Regardless, the moral of the story is Bennett is basically committing the same exact offense.

Before Bennett even had enough time to dust off his hands following his team’s numerous accomplishments this past season, news came that he’s on his way to Iowa State.

Portland State made some major strides in 2007. The Vikings advanced to the Big Sky Tournament for the first time since Erickson’s squad had four years ago. And the team finished with a 7-10-2 mark, including a respectable 3-3-1 record versus conference foes. That’s better than Bennett’s first two seasons at the helm, where he combined for a less-than-stellar 9-24-3 record.

Perhaps Bennett left for more money. Or maybe his rationale is that he would rather be an associate head coach at a school in a larger conference with a full compliment of scholarships rather the eight available at Portland State, which is six fewer than the rest of the Big Sky.

Whatever Bennett’s reasons are for leaving the Vikings, it’s apparent Portland State soccer has become a steppingstone for coaches who ultimately desire a more glamorous alternative. Erickson fled first, and now Bennett is headed out the door.

What happened to the notion of building a program from the bottom up? Is there any more pride in sticking around to cultivate a winning tradition at a school with a legacy of losing?

Bennett is not at fault here. A better position came his way. And just like the notion of moving up the corporate ladder, Bennett took advantage of the opportunity with which he was presented. That’s we’re taught to do in this capitalist society of ours-strike when the iron is hot and the situation is advantageous.

In many ways, Bennett is simply a product of the cutthroat world in which we live. But the more significant consideration is to take into account the by-product of this maneuver.

Just last week Bennett’s most recent recruiting class was announced. It contained the names of 11 young women prepared to throw on the Portland State green and white to play for Bennett.

They were under the impression that Bennett would be pacing the sidelines for the Vikings next year. They thought the program was headed in the right direction. They must feel pretty deceived right now, like they were tricked and played.

The truth of the matter is the future of Viking soccer is up in the air. Sure, they’ll be games next year, but there might not be much success.

Juli Edwards, the team’s best player, graduated. Bennett is gone. And there’s probably a hoard of disgruntled recruits waiting to suit up for the Vikings.

Sounds like paradise.

Now that the news is out, the obvious next step is to replace Bennett. Athletic director Torre Chisholm must find an adequate replacement for Bennett.

Any bets on where this next coach signs after one successful season at Portland State?