Sad news (for me, as a fan of the University of Maryland Terrapins) yesterday as men’s basketball coach Gary Williams announced (surprisingly) that he is retiring.
I’m sad about this because it seems that Coach Williams was seemingly constantly dodging calls for his ouster despite an impressive track record and despite being somewhat handicapped by events that transpired before he got to Maryland. Recruiting against Duke and University of North Carolina was never easy for him, but as other teams from other conferences had gotten much more exposure the kids from Maryland’s own back yard that had long since been targets for other school found themselves flooded with other choices that may have had some more appeal.
I fear part of that appeal was what the recruiting “bonuses” may have been for those kids, bonuses that weren’t going to come from Maryland where Gary Williams did his best to run a clean program under rules that were tightened up prior to his arrival. Rules designed to help prevent anything similar to another Len Bias situation. Rules that made it tough to bring in the kinds of kids that instead went off to the basketball factory schools and helped keep them in the spotlight for their performance on the court even if their performances in the classrooms were not impressive at all.
I appreciate the time Coach Williams put in at Maryland. I really appreciate the ACC tournament championship he brought to them, along with the NCAA championship and the impressive record of tournament appearances. He owes the school nothing, but I can’t help but be sad at his departure. He’ll be leaving behind some tough shoes to fill.