With Gary Williams’ Terps headed back to the NCAA Tournament Thursday in Kansas City against Cal; it hasn’t been a great week for his detractors. Making matters worse; Gary will almost certainly get another year tacked on to his current contract by reaching the on court and classroom standards attached to his deal. This will be Gary’s 13th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 16 years.
And for the “Fire Gary” group (or for the Rex Snider’s of the world who claim Gary is “failing”); the bad news keeps piling up.
Earlier this season; I wrote very strongly that the Maryland Terrapins basketball program was not in “turmoil”; or in any sort of peril. I made it very clear that the only thing that was going wrong in College Park was that the Terps had been falling just a bit short in the win column at the end of the season (even though the “bad years” for the program have been 19 win seasons). I seriously downplayed the perceived troubles of the program; reminding readers and listeners that the program was at a level of unprecedented success financially and in terms of overall program power.
This week comes evidence of the program’s unparalleled success from Forbes Magazine; where they inform us that Maryland is the 9th most valuable team in all of College Basketball. According to the magazine; the program is worth $16.7 million dollars; with a $10.8 million operating income. Of course that means that the program continues to make money to support the rest of the athletics department. I cannot report whether Debbie Yow has written Gary a thank you letter yet or not. But it has to be coming, right?
The article points out that the Terps generated an extra $1.1 million in revenue last year thanks to a campaign to re-assign seats based on donor level. Coming off another NCAA Tournament; and with the Steve Bisciotti “turbo donors” of the world reinvigorated by this year’s negative press towards their beloved head coach; it would be safe to assume that donations will continue to soar in 2009.
Maryland is 9th on this year’s list after being 17th on the list a year ago. The teams ahead of them in the ranking are (in order):
1. North Carolina
and the teams behind them…..
10. Ohio State
14. Michigan State
18(tie). North Carolina State and Wake Forest
Also this week; Jay Bilas took the time to go out of his way to defend Gary Williams; including his recruiting. In an interview with “Big O and Dukes” on WJFK in DC; Bilas was very impassioned about the recruiting issue, reminding the show hosts that Maryland wasn’t the only team to miss on a player like Greg Monroe; as even the great Coach K and Roy Williams couldn’t bring in the current Georgetown star. He also reminded his audience that Georgetown couldn’t make the Tournament even with the highly touted Monroe. (Transcript of interview provided by Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog).
After the conclusion of the interview; show host Chad Dukes questions whether or not he believes Gary Williams is really “working hard” at recruiting like Bilas claims.
It seems almost laughable to think that Gary Williams might not be “working hard” when it comes to recruiting. As if talk show hosts and message board posters are the only people that know that recruiting is the way to get talented players to play for you. Even Gary himself took a shot at the “recruiting geeks” this morning with The Junkies (again on WJFK in DC); reminding the show hosts that his recruits were good enough to get the Terps to the NCAA Tournament. (Thanks again to Dan Steinberg for the transcript).
If the Terps beat Cal Thursday; the detractors will continue to have little to complain about. If the Terps beat Memphis Saturday; it will be tough for them to complain about much of anything. If the Terps lose their opener; there will undoubtedly a smattering of “what does it matter that he made the Tournament if he can’t win” sentiment.
But either way; it has been a tough week for those who hope to see the end of the Gary Williams era.