"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MUBB Nation Goes Batsh*t Crazy - Nothing Happens

It's been a weird several days in MUBB land as Buzz supposedly was listening to a job opportunity with SMU.

Wait.  What?

Exactly.  Early reports came in that SMU was reaching for a coach and that Buzz Williams was on their list.  Most people originally said, "that's cute", and went on their way.  After all, SMU is famous for exactly one thing, and that's being the only school to ever receive the death penalty.  Despite joining the BIG EAST in 2013, their basketball program is terrible right now and has been forever.  However, something of a hysteria began to occur when Milwaukee Pro-AM founder Jim Ganzer said, "SMU is talking and Buzz Williams is listening. Get ready for a bumpy ride Marquette fans, this is more than just a rumor".  From there, a follow-up story happened on Ganzer's website, saying that it was all about relationships.

At that point, a decent contingent of online-savvy MUBB fans went batsh*t crazy for a while (that includes me).  Among other things, the story spawned a 90+ page thread about the topic, and a small letter writing campaign.

The entire thing got so crazy that message boards got coverage on the local news.  This wasn't just on isolated message boards.  Casual fans were asking around about Buzz and SMU.  The entire situation got a point where Marquette released a joint statement from Buzz and Larry Williams.  To sum up,

We are already looking forward to next season with a core group of returning players - Buzz
Coach Williams is a good man, great coach and I look forward to working with him in the coming years" - Larry Williams 

On the surface, reports of friction are not that difficult to believe.  There are two new sheriffs in town named Father Pilarz and Larry Williams.  Neither was around when Buzz was hired, and you can bet they aren't so keen on Marquette's players popping up for offcourt issues as recently as the 20th of March.  Don't forget that Cottingham essentially lost his job over the sexual assault allegations.*  (Yes, no charges were ever filed, but Marquette looked terrible).  Likewise, neither were responsible for giving Buzz his shot with Marquette, so there's no debt of obligation or loyalty as a result.  It's entirely plausible to consider the new AD coming in and laying down the new rules with Buzz, and then Buzz chafing and threatening to leave for a crappy program willing to pay a lot of money.  In short, this may have been a high stakes power struggle between some strong-willed individuals.

*wildly speculative

Of course, none of us really know what transpired over the past few days, so the previous paragraph is completely and totally speculative... at best.  However, the online freakout does represent a bit of a silver lining.  Marquette fans care very deeply about their basketball program.  Very deeply.  In addition, Marquette fans have become quite fond of Buzz Williams as a coach.  Certainly, if it comes down to choosing sides, MUBB nation is much more willing to go with Team Buzz than Team Larry.  Let's be honest... it's not (entirely) rational, but a lot of people are going to take time to trust a Domer.

Losing Buzz at this point would have been like dropping napalm on the basketball program.  Nobody would have looked good in that situation... not Buzz, not Larry, not Father Pilarz, and not even SMU.  And when you consider that the program is getting close to becoming a national contender within two years, that's unacceptable.  Thankfully, much of the issue appears to have been somewhere between "nothing" and a "difficult conversation between high level individuals".**

**still wildly speculative

Personally, I believe this was more than "nothing", and some personality conflicts got in the way of enjoying a post-S16 season.  I'd like to believe that Buzz and Larry will continue to work on their relationship for many years as Marquette and Buzz become legendary.  However, the cynical part of me thinks we only keep Buzz for another one or two years, and then he jumps to the first decent profile opportunity that exists.  Honestly, that's probably okay.  Keeping Buzz for another year or two will allow the program to continue growing in strength.  If and/or when Buzz leaves, Marquette basketball will remain committed to excellence.  "We are Marquette" as a statement is bigger than any single individual.

For now, back to your regularly scheduled offseason.  Less than 200 days until Marquette Madness!

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