Your Monday Reality Check: Happy for Turgeon but hardly sympathetic

February 18, 2013 | Glenn Clark

In the immediacy of the comments, fans on Twitter raced to take outrage at the idea that Maryland fans would single out a coaches’ son to voice their frustration. In listening live and watching the comments again, I got much more of a feeling that Turgeon’s family overheard comments directed at the coach in the team’s frustrating 80-69 home loss to Virginia the previous Sunday.

The difference is negligible in the scope of my overall point, but I feel it necessary to state that if Maryland fans did indeed single out one of Turgeon’s family members to express their displeasure, it is simply unacceptable. I do not want that to be lost in what I’ll say next.

It is important however to state that Mark Turgeon’s biggest concern from the University of Maryland fanbase should not be frustration but instead apathy. It is imperative he remember that as he continues his tenure in College Park.

College Park is a VASTLY different place than the areas Turgeon is most familiar with in his career. Originally from Topeka, Turgeon has played and coached in areas that are much more college sports-dominated (including Kansas, Wichita State and Texas A&M). In such areas, the attention of sports fans and media alike is fixed solely on college sports programs, in a way insulating coaches and players.

The same cannot be said about College Park. Situated between one of the largest markets in the country (Washington) and a pro-centric Top 25 market (Baltimore), Maryland has the potential to get lost between the Super Bowl winning Ravens and four more pro teams coming off playoff seasons (Orioles, Nationals, Redskins, Capitals) plus the NBA Wizards.

Turgeon’s concern cannot be about whether or not fans get frustrated with him or his program. His fear must be that at some point Maryland suffers a disappointing loss but there isn’t a rabid fanbase there to even voice their displeasure.

The tenor of Turgeon’s postgame press conference left me feeling like what the coach REALLY wanted to say was “this job is hard. I didn’t fully realize that when I accepted it and I’ve learned that since then.”

Turgeon is paid handsomely ($1.9 million per season, second to only Coach K in the conference) to be able to handle fans’ frustration. He’s paid quite well to be able to tell his sons “you’re going to hear some things about daddy that aren’t particularly nice. I promise you it will be okay.”

He HAS to know it is much better than his family never hearing anything at all about daddy. That would likely mean those annual nearly multi-million dollar paydays would have to come to an end.

Maryland experienced an unprecedented level of success under Williams but talk radio callers seemed only to want to talk about Terps hoops in the rare disappointing seasons to say they wanted the coach fired. It’s a fickle place. Coaches and players don’t enjoy the same level of hero worship (away from campus) that they might in the immediate communities at other programs. Mark Turgeon HAS to be able to work with that mentality to succeed in College Park. It really IS hard.

The irony in Turgeon’s frustration with a certain group of fans’ negativity is that it comes at the same time as he has taken on a support group of students at every home game known as “The Turgeonettes.” The overall feel of the fanbase appears to be an awareness of how hard the coach is working to establish the re-establish the program as a basketball powerhouse.

It was never going to be easy. It was always going to be more difficult than it would be at a place like Kansas, where an entire region plays a similar “support” role for a basketball coach.

At Maryland, a coach can’t really even pause to smile after a win over the #2 team in the country. If the Terps were to turn around and lose at Boston College three days later, there would be much more anger directed towards Turgeon then even during the Virginia game.

It would still be better than the Terps falling to the Eagles and no one noticing.

Anger is significantly better than apathy. Turgeon has to remember the latter is a possibility for his program.


7 Comments For This Post

  1. Donta Says:

    IMO its too early to give Turgeon a pass or fail grade that is acturate at this point. Your column is very good though Glenn but lets take another look at this guy in year 4 and see where the program sits. Baltimore is the 21st radio market(Top 25)27th TV market (Top 30).

  2. Steve From Sandpoint Says:

    Glenn, it’s all & only about winning. If he starts winning with consistency the booing will stop. As with Cam Cameron, you don’t win your gone, pretty simplistic; he gets paid pretty good money so you either deal with it or you move on.

  3. Tim Says:

    I think Turgeon is doing awesome. I was a bit weary at first but that’s because I was so used to Gary that I think I developed a bit of desperation anxiety. Fans are fickle and will always be. I’m surprised that folks have been booing him at all because as a coach at least for me he gives me everything I need. He recognizes that a team needs role players (aronhalt), he’s active in recruiting, and he’s not afraid to be honest. He’s been quick on a couple of occasions even after a loss of making it clear that its not perfect and I like that because I know that he knows that there are issues. And because of that we will get better. Coaches coach and players play and fortunately more that unfortunately our team is young yeah they make dumb mistakes but soon those mistakes will turn to success


  4. Unitastoberry Says:

    Too bad this win wasn’t in the final four.

  5. Donta Says:

    Note to Maryland fans you can boo but its not like the program has been great the 6 years or so before Turgeon got there. Gary`s recurting issues had started to become a major issue. So let`s not get carried away the national title was 11 years ago.

  6. Donta Says:

    They are where they have been the lsat decade middle of the road and struggling to make the NCAA tourney most seasons the last 10 years or so.

  7. GlenW Says:

    It is disappointing that fnas boo at a game when the Terps are competative. Glenn is right about anger being better than apathy. The program is lost when that happens. I’ve seen it for the last seven years in Houston. The Cougars are barely making 10% capacity, and I guessing that because the attendance figures aren’t published anymore.

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