Do you know who likes Brian Billick more than anyone right now? Gary Williams. Has anyone noticed that the Terps season has started and that, oh yeah, they suck. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t suck like Notre Dame football sucked, but come on. They Beat Hampton by six, Northeastern by two, and they lost to Virginia Commonwealth, all of which were at home. That’s not good.
And before I hear about how young they are, let me tell you, they aren’t really young. They’re not old, mind you, with only two Seniors on the roster, but they both play significant roles. Teams that are in rebuilding years aren’t going to lose two of their three leading scorers and their two leading rebounders to graduation. Right now, that’s where Maryland stands.
Looking deeper, the Billick/Ravens versus Williams/Maryland situation is somewhat similar. They both reached the pinnacle, and have both done little since. Seriously, Billick is getting crucified everyday, and one of the complaints is that the Ravens have done little since the Super Bowl win. What has Maryland done since their National Title? Instead of using the championship as a stepping-stone to becoming an elite program, they have actually gotten worse. Remember when they used to make the tournament every year? They even had a nice little run of Sweet Sixteens in the 90’s, mixed in with a couple first round losses and two final fours. The late 90’s and early 21st century were very good to Maryland basketball. Now where are they?
I saw a pre-season poll that had them eighth in the conference. That’s probably not too far off. And when was the last time this team went and entire season and never cracked the top 25? Do you think they will even sniff it this year?
If you are under the opinion that Gary restored the program, brought it a national title, and can stay as long as he wants because of it, then so be it. That usually doesn’t work too well though. Ask Penn State and Florida Sate what it’s like to have an elite football program with a legendary coach. They still have the legendary coaches, but they no longer have the elite programs.
When looking at the head coaches, the question facing both the Ravens and the Terps isn’t what they’ve done in the past and how long of a leash that should garner them. It’s how will the lead their respective teams into the future. We’ve all heard the thoughts on Billick, but what do you see for Maryland basketball is he stays around for another five years?
I guess the real question is “what is acceptable?” The Terps have made the tournament 12 out of the last 14 years. What if they only make it three out of the next five? Is that good enough? After two straight Final Fours and a National Title, has the bar really been lowered that far that simply hoping to make the tournament is acceptable?
Like I said, maybe all the anti-Billick stuff is the best thing that could be happening for Maryland basketball right now. Or maybe when the calendar turns and there is no more football to complain about, the focus will turn to College Park. Maybe people will say “If Billick can get major criticism after winning a Super Bowl and then letting things deteriorate then why can’t Gary?” In the meantime, they might want to stop losing to mid-majors.