Gary Not Going Anywhere Soon…..

January 27, 2009 | Glenn Clark

……unless he wants to.

It doesn’t surprise me that the Gary discussion has re-sparked; considering that the last 3 weeks have involved…..

-Blowing a 15 point lead in a home loss to MORGAN STATE
-Playing one of their worst games of the season but managing to get just enough effort for a home win over lowly Georgia Tech; a game in which their star guard was caught cursing at his own home crowd
-Blowing a 17 point lead in a loss at Miami
-Rallying from down 10 but losing in overtime anyway at Florida State
-Nearly blowing another 17 point lead in a home win over lowly Virginia
-and of course the lowest of the lows……the 41 point loss at Duke this past Saturday

(And don’t tell me that I’m jaded…..I spent my own money to drive down to Duke this past weekend; rent a hotel room, and witness that abomination up close and personal.)

But Gary Williams will be the head coach at Maryland this season; and he will be the head coach at Maryland next season; unless for some reason he decides to leave on his own accord.

And he should be.

There is NO DOUBT that this team is not a NCAA Tournament-caliber team. Barring an improbable run; Gary’s team will once again head to the NIT Tournament, seeking a reason to be inspired for a run to Madison Square Garden.

But once again; this issue becomes MUCH bigger than wins and losses.

Gary’s team will NOT finish the season 3-13 in ACC play. They will likely win tomorrow night; and I firmly believe they will beat Miami Saturday to improve to 4-3 in the conference. Moving forward; they will likely finish the season 7-9 in the league; and will be just off the bubble once more.

And no matter how many people think “if the coach isn’t winning; you bring in someone who can”; this will be a lesson in how college athletics work.

Gary Williams’ program at Maryland is NOT facing peril. Gary Williams’ program at Maryland is not in danger of completely falling into oblivion. Gary Williams’ program at Maryland is NOT in bad shape. But Gary Williams’ basketball team is in VERY bad shape.

That’s the biggest difference in college athletics.

The basketball team playing at Marquette right now is in OUTSTANDING shape. Buzz Williams inherited talent from Tom Crean, and that talent is paying off on the court. Marquette is amongst the best teams in the best conference in basketball; and they’re coming off a national television win at Notre Dame last night. Their basketball team is in SIGNIFICANTLY better shape than Maryland’s. But Maryland’s basketball program is in significantly better shape than Marquette’s.

“No chance!” you say?

Consider this. Not only is the Maryland program playing in an on-campue facility; they are playing in a state-of-the art facility that ranks amongst the top 5-10 in all of college basketball. Marquette plays their home games in an arena they have to rent out (the Bradley Center in Milwaukee).

When the Maryland Athletic Department is looking for a six figure donation; they have the luxury of taking a Hall of Fame coach into the DC Chop House flashing his national championship ring and discussing the memories of Juan Dixon hitting a baseline jumper at the Georgia Dome. Unfortunately for Marquette; Al McGuire has passed; and the memories of their national title in 1977 aren’t quite as marketable amongst those people in Wisconsin who have the fat checks to write.

The program at Maryland is in GREAT shape……..except for the winning.

It seems strange that the two things can end up being separate from each other; but sometimes they do not go hand in hand.

Without Gary Williams; the program loses its top fundraiser; and likely some of its biggest donors. Without Gary Williams; the program cannot market their “20 Year Head Coach” with 2 Final Four Appearances, a National Championship, and 3 ACC Championships (combined regular season and ACC Tournament). Without Gary Williams; it is safe to say the program faces a steep uphill battle.

Those are the reasons why Gary will be here until either he decides it is time for him to go or the bottom completely falls out on the program.

Some will question whether a coach who has missed the NCAA Tournament 3 times in the last 4 years has earned the chance to stay on; but the reasons above are the reasons why he absolutely HAS.

That being said; those donors will only stomach so many more 41 point losses. If things don’t turn around, the bottom WILL fall out. But this program won’t pull the plug on their Hall of Fame coach before that bottom falls; because they absolutely can’t afford to.

The hope will be that something clicks (starting tonight); and these Terps turn things around.

But the reality is that things could get worse before they get better.

Either way; Gary Williams will be the head coach.