I was really hoping my last week of classes ever would start out with an announcement regarding Maryland’s coaching vacancy.
That didn’t happen.
When Gary Williams stepped down as Maryland’s basketball coach last Thursday, I was shocked. I wasn’t mad or anything negative, but just upset in general because he’s been Maryland’s basketball coach my entire life. He was hired in 1989, the same year I was born, so literally, my entire life he’s been the figurehead of the Terps’ basketball program. Most people have read the stories that have been published about Williams’ career in College Park. How he took his alma mater from its darkest days to cutting the nets down on April 1, 2002 in Atlanta after he led Maryland to its first national championship.
Everyone had positive remarks about Williams and his 33 years — 22 at Maryland — coaching college basketball. Even Duke coach Mike Krz..um..yz..I think..ewski. Yeah, Krzyzewski, that’s it. Despite Coach K being the absolute last person I wanted to hear from about Williams’ retirement because he coaches at a school I unconditionally loathe due to their preppy, rich students, ugly cheerleaders and a fan base that only roots for basketball because their all bandwagon-ers, except the 21 percent of the fan base that actually lives in North Carolina or went to Duke. I digress. But Coach K said that Williams’ retirement is a huge loss to college basketball and I (gulp) couldn’t agree more.
But as much as it pains me to say it, the Gary Williams era is over.
Several names started to be thrown around after Williams’ retirement. Names like Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh), Jay Wright (Villanova), Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Brad Stevens (Butler) and Sean Miller (Arizona). Miller was the frontrunner for the job, according to reports, but signed an extension with Arizona. Pretty much, it seemed like Miller played Maryland to get a contract extension and it worked. Can’t hate the guy for being a good business man, but I can hate him from being Pittsburgh. Dixon, Wright, Stevens and Brey all withdrew their names from the fray, but it doesn’t mean they won’t take the job if offered the right amount. As Baltimore Sun writer Jeff Barker points out, just because a coach took their name out of the hat doesn’t mean they won’t become available again.
Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said that this process was going to be a short one and I’m hoping he’s right. It’s bad enough Williams had to retire at the worst time, but all the names that were thrown out have been reeled back in. Minnesota coach Tubby Smith remains a possibility, as does Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, but that is all speculation.
Anderson has only been the AD at Maryland since September and has enraged a lot of people with the way he handled the Ralph Friedgen situation in December. If you remember, Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn were the top targets to take over for the Fridge, according to media reports, but Randy Edsall slid in and took the job. The way the football coaching search was handled makes me wonder if a dark horse candidate will be the next Maryland hoops coach. I know former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is available, but he carries a lot of extra baggage. And with Anderson being from Army, I’m guessing he wants a high-character guy (sorry, still in NFL draft mode).
It will be interesting to see who takes the job at Maryland, but as of now, I don’t know of anyone other than the names I have already mentioned. Whomever it is won’t be replacing Williams, though, because Williams is irreplaceable. The next Maryland basketball will have a lot of pressure on them to make sure the Terps contend in ACC and make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament for years to come.
With the last week of classes here and finals just around the corner, I hope I will be able to rest a little easier at night when Maryland hires its next coach. That all depends on how quickly the Terps get a new coach. I just hope it’s sooner than later. Sooner as in after I post this blog.