Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Are you serious? Oh, I get it. You just used Gary Williams name (in your Coaches on the Hot Seat column) as your headline gimmick, right?
1. He plays in the toughest conference.
2. He has had numerous top 20 and top 10 and top five teams.
3. He has won a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.
Williams will be there as long as he wants to be.
It is entirely his decision.
To answer your initial question, yes, I'm serious, AW.
And if you want to spend the afternoon talking about stuff that was relevant five or more years ago, that's OK by me as long as we place it into context. Maryland won a national title in 2002, at which time Gary Williams was winning big and Gary Parrish was a 155-pound specimen of love. But that was six long years ago. These days, Williams isn't doing so hot and I'm gray-haired and fat. So lots of things have changed in the past six years, and that's my round-about way of telling you that what was relevant in 2002 doesn't mean much in 2008, which brings me back to Williams' current situation at Maryland.
Here's the truth: Contrary to your email, Maryland does NOT play in the toughest conference; the Big East is the toughest conference. And though Williams has had "numerous top 20 and top 10 and top five teams" he hasn't had those too often recently, which is why he's posted a winning record in the ACC only once in the past five seasons. Furthermore, three of the past four seasons have resulted in NIT bids, and unless the Terrapins overachieve this season (they were picked seventh in the official preseason poll) that streak will move to four NITs in five years.
Is that OK at Maryland?
I'll ask again: Is that OK at Maryland?
If so, then I stand corrected. But if it's not -- and I don't think it is -- then I absolutely believe a season that stops short of the NCAA tournament could have Williams in trouble based upon a combination of three things.
1. A less-than-ideal relationship with his athletic director.
2. A stretch of five years with just one NCAA tournament appearance.
3. A growing inability to secure the elite prospects from Baltimore, Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas.
Now don't get me wrong; it's a dicey situation.
As Tennessee football is finding out, there is no good way to remove a legend -- especially one who is an alum and respected as a brilliant coach. But college basketball at this level is less about coaching than it is about securing talent, and that's the thing people tend to forget when they start yapping about coaches. I mean, why do you think Kansas State's Delonte Hill is the highest-paid assistant in the country? Because of his ability to draw-up an inbounds play? No, silly. It's because of his ability to secure recruits, specifically recruits from the D.C. area that should be fertile ground for Maryland but is instead serving as a talent source for multiple other schools, among them Kansas State.
Bottom line, this sucks.
I want to be clear in stating that Williams' career is the stuff of Hall of Famers, and the man should be in the Hall of Fame someday. But there is no denying that Maryland isn't winning like it used to or recruiting at the level to ensure it can keep up with North Carolina and Duke, which is why it's reasonable to assume Williams must either turn things around quickly or risk going out the way he probably never imagined.
And with that, I'm heading to the gym so I can work on getting back to my fighting weight of 155 pounds.
Oh, for the good old days.