You’ll pardon me if I’m not overly excited about following the ins, outs, twists, and turns about who will replace Roy Williams as the head coach of UNC. I’ve been through this before, in multiple ways.
I was in college in the summer of 2000 and a relatively recent graduate in the spring of 2003. During both of those time periods, I methodically stayed up in the middle of the night combing over every detail on UNC message boards, trying to decipher who you could trust and who you couldn’t. I marveled at the first hand accounts that random people could get about showing Roy Williams around campus. When Williams said no the first time, the additional spinning that went into figuring out the eventual replacement sent that online community into even more of a tizzy.
You have to keep in mind, this is in the age before any sort of social media existed and newspapers were still the gold standard of journalism locally. Some of the more familiar names that you know now weren’t even out of school themselves. It quickly became such a deep tunnel, once Matt Doherty was named in 2000 you were just thankful they had found...anyone. It wasn’t much better in 2003, but at least Roy Williams said yes.
Fast forward to just two years ago, and the landscape was completely different as Bubba Cunningham fired Larry Fedora and quickly pounced on Mack Brown. Multiple outlets were covering the team, Twitter made even that seem antiquated as people tripped all over each other to get news out, and it was to the point that even though Brown was hired pretty quickly, folks already had an opinion about who they wanted to coach the squad. I was one who didn’t like the idea of Brown, thanks to all of these things shaping my opinion, so I had to do some bouncing around to “talk myself” into the hire.
I’d say that one has worked out well so far.
All of this is to say that there is a difference in being interested and caring in who Cunningham ultimately hires, and following it around with such a force that you will instantly love or hate whomever the choice becomes. For multiple reasons, I don’t want to do that with this hire, hence the modified Green Day lyric above.
It’s already happened, and it’ll happen some more, that people who claim to have knowledge because they donated a few bucks to the Ram’s Club will post that they heard “this guy interviewed yesterday.” This is on top of reporters who actually get paid and have genuine connections to this search scrambling to get this information out. This is a rare generational hire that is going to draw in national media on top of the...I’ve lost count of how many outlets actually cover this school. Each one of them will want the scoop, each one of them will want to keep your faith in them, and each one of them have their job to do to get you informed.
God bless them, I can’t do it.
At the end of the day, there’s no Roy Williams that UNC can knowingly hire this time around. I say knowingly because whomever the pick ends up being might become the next Williams or Smith, but we aren’t going to know that until way down the line. Each type of hire comes with it’s own issues and questions that have to be answered, so rather than getting wrapped up and trying to decide that we “have to have THIS kind of coach,” I’d rather trust that the person sitting over there in Chapel Hill is going to be well aware of all this and make the best hire he sees fit.
Oh, you want more? Let’s lay out the issues that each type of coach will bring:
- Coach from the NBA: Their season doesn’t end until May at the earliest...why would anyone want to leave the NBA to come back to college...can UNC afford to buy out a coach...would they understand the weight of being the head coach of UNC...will they keep the family aspect going that Roy worked hard to keep straight...
- College coach from outside the family: Do they have enough experience to take on the expectations of a UNC...can they recruit at the level that we expect...will the “family” accept someone coming in from the outside...how much of their success was due to where they were coaching...
- College coach from inside the family: Do we as a fan base have the patience to let them grow...can they step into the big chair when Roy wouldn’t let his assistants have a lot responsibility...what would his staff look like and would it be one to assist him in a more hands-on way than Roy did...how important is the role of the family in this decision...
You see my point. There’s a saying about opinions, although as someone who had his colon taken out a couple years ago, I’d modify the saying to almost everyone has one.
Of course I care and I want whomever Cunningham selects to succeed, and I’ll be following along at a periphery with the reporters I trust, and I suggest you do the same. Times like these are really when MessageBoardHack782342234 or Twitterguy452734085720373 likes to pop up and throw stuff against the wall, because if they are right they get to be a legend...although it’s much more likely they are just seeking the attention. As it is too many people have spent too long creating reliable contacts, and even those contacts aren’t going to know much.
Think of it this way: Bubba Cunningham is about to make the single most important decision he will make as an athletic director. It’s the decision that very likely will define his legacy in Chapel Hill, and it’s the one he knew he was going to have to make when he was hired in the wake of the turmoil around the NCAA situation. Do you really think that with the weight of this selection he’s going to head over to Pinehurst and over a glass or two of bourbon tell a couple of random guys exactly what happened? Especially when it looks bad for the current coaches if it gets out that say a Jay Wright is even considering the offer?
Thus, I’m going to check out for a bit. I’m still processing the fact that someone other than Roy Williams will be roaming the sidelines next season, but I’m well aware there will be a coach at some point. Once that coach is hired, then I can focus on the strengths and weaknesses, hear his plan for the team, and look at how those around the program react to it. In the meantime, I’m going to be entertained by the random folks-not the people who have actual ties to the program that are willing to put their name out there and stake their reputation on it mind you-but the random folks who’ll just act like they are in the know and try to convince others that a certain person is going to be hired. The national component, not to mention the Boston component since Brad Stevens is at least, for now, being mentioned makes it that much more entertaining. You think it isn’t? Listen to this snippet, starting at 27:41. Anytime you can hear someone in Boston sports radio call Coach K a “Weasel Face” it’s high entertainment.
So, just like you find Billy Joe Armstrong on October 1st, just find me once the press conference is set to introduce the new coach. Then we’ll talk about the decision and what’s in front of us.