Today College Basketball lost a great man. Fortunately I am not referring to a death, though I am still deeply saddened by today’s big announcement. A man who took over a program amid turmoil. A man who brought a program back to prominence. A man who was vastly overshadowed by fellow coaching legends within his own conference. A man who is one of the all time greats. A man who has never and probably will never ever get his due. Well today, I am going to give him his due.
After 4 head coaching gigs, 41 years as a coach (31 as a head coach), including 22 at his alma mater, Maryland’s Gary Williams announced his retirement this afternoon. Gary Williams compiled an overall record of 668-380 as a Head Coach. Including 2 Final Four appearances, a National Championship, and the revival of a prestigious College Basketball Program that was in shambles when he took it over.
Sure the ACC has seen its fair share of legendary coaches. Even in recent memory, there are guys like Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, and Dean Smith. But Gary has seen coaches come and go. Including 4 at the legendary program out of Chapel Hill during his Maryland tenure. He has stayed the course at Maryland. He gave his alma mater his heart and soul as a player, a student, and most of all, as its coach. Not many guys these days get to remain at one program for a decade, much less 22 years.
Coach Williams was able to. And he was able to do so with a style and flair that made him the 3rd winningest coach of all time in the ACC. Maryland should really consider in time naming their current arena, the Comcast Center, something that shows appreciation to Coach Williams. Perhaps the Williams Center? Who knows.
Now I am by no means a Maryland fan, but I will admit that I am in awe of this man’s accomplishments. He has done it all. Including bring a program back from the dead that was struggling with NCAA violations. But there is one feat that will forever stay with me. Especially in this era of the “One and Done” player. Gary Williams, in leading the Terrapins to the 2002 National Title became the only coach ever to win it all without one McDonald’s All American Player on his roster. Now really think about that. Not even one.
Gary Williams won through hard work, dedication, and more hard work which turned into a program. He did not win on raw talent. This man did not babysit one and done players like many other coaches do in this day and age. He challenged players and made them better men while spending 4 years with the majority of them. Winning with great talent is not the hardest thing to do in the world. But to hold your own against teams such as Duke and UNC year after year without that elite talent is another story.
Today I am giving Gary Williams his due. I am hoping this is the start of many great accolades to come for the man who spent the majority of his career being overshadowed by other great coaches. College Basketball, the ACC, and most of all Maryland will miss Coach Gary Williams.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.