In case you missed it, there was a bit of a kerfuffle between Roy Williams and CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb on Saturday regarding comments the latter made about the former prior to UNC taking Miami behind the woodshed.
The short version goes like this: During the CBS pregame show Gottlieb, who serves as a studio analyst alongside Seth Davis, speculated very specifically that Roy Williams could retire after this season and hand the reins of the program over to Hubert Davis. Gottlieb cited Williams' recent health issues such as his vertigo episode at Boston College and problems with his knees as factors in "people" thinking this is the Tar Heel head coach's last season.
Williams was told of the remarks after the game and understandably livid about them. We have the audio here but if you want the full effect here is video via Tar Heel Illustrated.
Gottlieb made an effort to clarify on Twitter claiming it wasn't a report just speculation on his part.
There was no "report" on Roy. Simply stating his knees,vertigo,NCAA stuff make people think this could be his last year #UNC— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) February 20, 2016
and yes, people in basketball think Roy might walk if they win the whole thing....this is not news to anyone in hoops— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) February 20, 2016
Couple of reasons why this explanation doesn't quite fly.
First of all, Gottlieb is a studio analyst on a nationally televised show talking about Williams possibly retiring and doing so with specifics(i.e. Hubert Davis will replace him.) Gottlieb can say it wasn't a report and he can also claim he's not a journalist but the general viewing public doesn't make that distinction. Given his position on the program, what he says will (sadly) be given weight and credibility by some viewers. It's one thing to ask whether Williams' health and the strain of the NCAA scandal might lead to retirement and have an informed discussion about it. It is quite another to toss it out there in a way that sounds like it could actually happen and Gottlieb has inside information. Then again, having an informed discussion would require the parties involved actually be informed which was clearly not the case.
The other issue is citing "people" which is both vague and completely impossible to verify. I don't know who these "people" are but they don't appear to have a grasp on some important details. Williams signed a contract extension last season that takes him through 2020. He has a 2016 class committed plus commitments for the 2017 class from Raymond Felton's nephew Jalen Felton and a 2018 commitment Rechon Black. Granted there will always be commitments who won't play for the coach, it seems unlikely Williams isn't going to be around when Felton shows up. There is also the fact Dean Smith once told Roy Williams he felt he walked away too soon and Williams shouldn't make the same mistake. Not that Williams would keep coaching just because Smith told him that but it's a safe bet it weighs heavily in the decision of when he might hang it up.
The problem with Gottlieb's "report" is the same issue that exists when you hear national writers talk about Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton. It is often bereft of important details or context that local media has working knowledge of since they spend far more time with the team than someone like Gottlieb does. If anything this should remind you that when it comes to issues of this nature it is always best to lean on local media for a real pulse on what is going on.
As for why Roy Williams response was so pointed the answer is simple: recruiting. Williams is 65 and obviously has fewer days ahead of him as UNC's coach than behind. Williams Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino just to name three, have all reached a point where the question how many years they have left is a legitimate one to be asked on the recruiting trail. Having a CBS studio analyst suggest the coach could retire this season takes what should be a pot of sauce simmering on the back burner and turns it into a full blow grease fire.
Of course one could argue Williams could have called Gottlieb's remarks "sinful" and said "you have no frickin idea what you are talking about" then left it alone. The addition of the shorts story from Gottlieb's Oklahoma State days was the equivalent of Williams knifing him in public just because he could. It may have been petty or unnecessary but not wholly unexpected given the level of crap Williams has dealt with from the media in recent years. Not to mention everyone benefits from new material on Gottlieb so we can effectively retire the worn out credit card jokes.
One other note: While completely undressing Gottlieb, Williams said he liked him. Imagine what he does to people he doesn't like. Oh wait, we get an answer to that question on Wednesday night.