Sunday, May 8, 2011
Now For Some Real Unrest in College Park!
But it's late Sunday night, and there is no imminent replacement for your legendary coach, Gary Williams.
I was told - almost angrily, I might add - by a prominent Maryland fan, alumni, and fellow media member, that "there will be a new coach by Monday, and he will be a BIG name guy."
Whoa, I said. Relax. Why so mad? I just said you might want to be prepared to be disappointed. I pointed out plenty of perfectly logical reasons why getting that "wow" coach, was not going to be easy.
The logic included, but was not limited to...
1. There's not much talent on this roster now, and two recruits are likely to de-commit.
2. Following a legend is always a dicey proposition. Better to be the next guy after that.
3. It's late in the calendar. Nobody is changing seats right now.
Logic never stands a chance against emotion, however.
I also tried to gently point out that the ACC as a conference, has been living on its ever fading standard-def VHS tapes from the 80's and 90's too much these days. The conference - in my opinion, and others - is caught as a mediocre football league, and on the basketball side existing only to serve the interests of Duke and Carolina.
What K and Roy wants, they eventually get. Everyone else can go to hell.
So here you have a program in Maryland, not part of the Carolina Mafia, having lost the driving force and DNA of it's program in Williams, entering a bold new chapter of it's existence.
Let's not forget. Gary decided to quit NOW, because the 2011-2012 season WITHOUT forward Jordan Williams, was another suicide mission, even for Gary.
Please don't buy the notion that Gary's decision was independent of the kid going pro. I don't blame Gary, but it doesn't mean I have to buy his spin, meant to protect a kid from the stigma of driving the final nail in a legend's coffin.
So when I heard the names being thrown around by UMD fans last Friday, I just had to laugh.
Jamie Dixon. Jay Wright. Sean Miller. Mike Brey. Brad Stevens.
I mean, really? Really. In fact, one UMD guy I spoke to, said they would "have their CHOICE" of the above names.
I tried to plead logic both in person, and on the radio.
I was shouted down, and angrily rebutted by such wonderful things as the "fertile recruiting area" of the Baltimore-Washington corridor, the "fantastic facilities" of Comcast Center, and of course the "rich tradition" of Terrapin Basketball.
These are all true, and very real. But they matter more to fans, than prospective new coaches of the Terps.
Let's take them one at a time.
If you have a phone, you have an "in" on anyone's recruiting "area." This is how Kevin Durant gets extricated to Texas. Hometown recruits who stay close to home, especially blue chippers, are considered a bonus. Not a lock. The hometown recruit, is about as elusive to find as the pro athlete who agrees to take a "hometown discount" on his next contract. No team locks down their home territory. Just look at rosters around the country.
Yes, Maryland has nice digs. Thank you, Gary. But almost every big D-1 program has good "facilities" now, and even if they don't, it seems to have no real effect on recruiting. Georgetown, for example, does not have an on-campus arena, and likely never will. They play before non-sellout crowds at the Verizon Center. And yet, somehow, JT III has recruited circles around Gary Williams in the last 5 years.
You know who cares about "tradition?" Old fogies, like you and me. That's who. The 18 year old kid today, doesn't know any of your school's former stars beyond guys currently in the NBA, and whichever ones still appear on his XBox. And while coaches might have a better perspective about "tradition" at a school, they are in a shark tank of a profession where they have to produce NOW, and CONTINUOUSLY in order to avoid being drummed out of a gig. Tradition not only won't save a new coach once he signs on, it'll start to work against him if he doesn't win.
Guys like Sean Miller know this. He's no idiot. Why would a coach with 4 of 5 starters returning from a Regional Final team, come to a program that missed the both the NCAA AND THE NIT this year!?
Because of the great tradition of Lefty Drisell, and a fancy weight room?
Gary was the program. The program was Gary. Gary is gone.
Repeat that over and over and over, oh ye delusional Terp fans.
Gary Williams himself, was undeniably a Top-10 college coaching "brand" for what he had done over 22 years at the school. But it doesn't make the empty office at College Park, an automatic "Top 10-15 job" in college basketball.
Even if Andy Katz says so.
So, let's check the list.
Sean Miller got a lunch from Kevin Anderson and a raise from Arizona. "No thanks."
Mike Brey didn't even want the lunch.
Brad Stevens seemed uncomfortable to even be in the conversation.
And by the public silence of Jamie Dixon and Jay Wright, I am guessing their thinking goes something like this: "Why should I leave a conference that sends twice as many teams to the tournament and gets more ESPN exposure than your league?"
Already, I have sensed a new "talking point" from Maryland apologists, and it goes something like this: "Kevin Anderson is screwing up the pitch."
Okay, whatever makes you feel better.
So now, you are left to sniffing around the Mark Turgeon's of the college basketball world. If you want to call him a "big name" and try to save some face, then go for it. I'll look the other way and hold my smile.
This is nothing to get all worked up over, Terp fans.
You need to hire a GOOD coach, not a NAME coach. Forget where you think "this job ranks" and simply appreciate what Gary did for you over the last 22 years.
Now, at this point I raise a practical question: if the new coach isn't sexy enough for the undergrads in College Park, will they take to the streets and set fire to couches?