OK, let's start with the good stuff.......Bob McClellan from Rivals.com pulled together an article on Buzz Williams -- the piece effectively recaps the 'how we got here' and 'here's what we know about Buzz' storylines.
Of course, we also have to put up with Marquette AD Steve Cottingham's defense of his unwillingness to conduct a thorough, national search to fill the institution's most visible job. So, in honor of FireJoeMorgan.com, we're going Ken Tremendous on Cottingham.
"I think the general public might see it that way (as a risky hire)," Marquette athletic director Steve Cottingham told Rivals.com.
Despite being an inside job, the Politburo would have seen it as a risky hire. Hiring a coach embroiled in a legal battle with his previous employer -- a job he left under questionable circumstances after a losing season -- is risky. For a university that believes its men's basketball program is a key part of its strategy to attract interest from prospective students and dollars from alums, the hire was risky by any measure.
"My view is it's a much greater risk to hire somebody based on the popular opinion."
Please ring that gong, Chuck Barris.
Would everybody who thought that MU should hire a coach based on popular opinion raise your hand? (no hands go up in our virtual world).
No, Mr. Cottingham. Marquette fans wanted to see the institution engage in a competitive evaluation and hiring process that didn't include "hire the last assistant remaining in the program" as a key criterion.
"There wasn't a risk in hiring Buzz because we know what he can do and know what he's going to do."
Seriously, Cottingham said that. You can't make this stuff up. To recap, here is what we knew about Buzz Williams at the time of his hiring:
- Buzz Williams did not have to defend his resume or approach to building a program against a slate of competitive candidates.
- Buzz Williams quit on the folks at the University of New Orleans and was engaged in a protracted legal battle with them.
- Buzz Williams led UNO to a 14-17 record as head coach.
- Buzz Williams played a brief, minor role in building the MU program.
- Buzz Williams would have been an assistant coach at any other D1 program in the nation for the 2008-2009 season.
- Buzz Williams seems to have been an effective recruiter as an assistant coach.
- Buzz Williams might be just fine in the end. Or he might not.
I think Cottingham mis-spoke here. What he meant to say was, "It would not have been easy to conduct an aggressive, national search. Such a search would have taken time and forced candidates to demonstrate their competing visions of Marquette basketball. Those candidates could have challenged this institution's perspectives in what would have been a very healthy dialectic. Ultimately we just didn't need that kind of distraction."
Cottingham admits other coaches were approached. He declined to reveal any names.
Approached? Stalked? Left messages for? Sigh.
It took Buzz Williams more time to hire his first assistant coach than it did for MU to hire its 16th head basketball coach. And per Internet reports, Williams actually conducted an aggressive national search to build out his staff (I didn't think MU allowed such a thing!). Bravo, Buzz.
"We did our job in terms of looking at people we thought would be interested and would be the right fit"
Looking at people but not interviewing people, apparently.
"That's all part of doing your due diligence."
Due diligence? This process was reminiscent of the fella who marries the first girl he kisses, only to realize later that playing the field for a while might have resulted in out-kicking his coverage.
"Buzz emerged pretty quickly as a strong candidate."
A haunting refrain reappears near Cottingham's noggin as a Pop-Up Video bubble , "Hire the last assistant remaining in the program."
"Recruiting is a huge part," Cottingham said.
Of course!! Nobody else that MU might have considered as a head coach can recruit -- only Buzz Williams can recruit. It's all making sense now.
"Even during the season, it became clear to me he'd be a high-major coach," Cottingham said. "I just didn't expect it would be at Marquette."
On this point we agree. Nobody else did either.