"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

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cottingham details 'the process'

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.
"It would have been easy to settle for a name on somebody else's list."

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.


theKAYman said...

A little cheese with you whine? Get over it already.

Championships Matter said...

Two observations stand out here. First, as much as Cottingham may have botched the search process, the decision has been made and there is no turning back. Apparently, the university is not prepared to push Cottingham out the window at O'Hara Hall (not that such an act would do much good), so at some point we have to just hope for the best.

Secondly, we do not know everything that went on behind the scenes. Clearly, some coaches would have been excellent hires (i.e., Tony Bennett), but we do not know what was said to Cottingham nor what it would have taken financially to move one of these Top Tier Coaches.

Even in the good old days, there was a liberal bent to Marquette as an institution that questioned whether the basketball coach should be the highest paid employee of an organization dedicated to higher education. It's a question of values rather than "cheapness" and I wonder seriously whether Father Wild et al were balancing the need for a very high quality bsaketball team against the institutional outcry likely to occur if Marquette paid a Tony Bennett, for example, what it would cost to bring him. An academic riot would not be out of the question -- along with the issue of how many professors would Marquette NOT be able to hire.

For whatever reason, Buzz is our man. Here's hoping he's holding the National Championship trophey in the years ahead.

Unknown said...

Bravo, NY Warrior! It sounds as if, like me, you feel this hire gets more inexplicable every day. Your point about Buzz taking more time to hire assistant coaches speaks volumes about the complete lack of thoroughness in the process.

Cottingham and the entire search committee should be ashamed of themselves. What they've done is put a coach on the hot seat from day 1. And I'm not going to feel guilty about questioning his every move.

You would think that we would have the confidence as a program to go after somebody with a track record. At the very least, get somebody with some level of credibility.

Unfortunately, what we (and our veteran team) were given was a journeyman coach, with a questionable past and, frankly, zero credibility.

The last thing we need is a coach who has to spend two years proving he's up to the task.

This has no chance of working. None.

Say hello to your Seton Hall Pirates!!

Unknown said...

Hey Championships Matter --
Williams...a complete unproven, unknown...is STILL THE HIGHEST PAID EMPLOYEE.

If I were a professor, I'd be a helluva lot more pissed off about him getting $1 million plus than MU paying Tony Bennett (a former NBA player with a blue blood pedigree) or Bruce Weber $2 million.

What we got was a claimer when we needed a thoroughbred!!

Oliver said...

If this has "no chance of working", why are you still on this blog? You might as well wait until he leaves or is fired and then return. I get it. You don't like the hire. Crying to us is not changing it.

That aside, Buzz has done everything right so far. He hasn't had to coach a single game yet, but give him a chance. He might surprise you. Love the one you're with.

Squido50 said...

Again with this nonsense! When will you give it up? We get it. Stop beating this dead horse. Let it go or get some serious therapy for yourself. If I give you $100 will you just go away at least until the season starts so I don't have to put up with this whining all summer??

TB said...

"Again with this nonsense! When will you give it up? We get it. Stop beating this dead horse"

As soon as Cottingham stops defending and explaining the process -- we'll stop picking it apart.

Unknown said...

When discussing a single basketball team, with one head coach and 12 players, just exactly ISN'T a dead horse?

This is a blog about Marquette basketball. If you don't like repetition, don't read it.

The Chuter said...


Why in the world would Cottingham have to explain his process to you or any other fan, season ticket holder (such as myself) or not? The metric for success is winning, as Buzz has stated, and an addendum is winning with academics as well. He owed an explanation of the process to Fr Wild and the athletic board.

The fact that they moved to fast was motivated by a true sense of urgency: recruits were heading out the door, and uncertainty leads to chaos in the mind of an 18 year old.

Give the “explain the process” a rest and lets move on. Buzz is locked and loaded, and if he can recruit a point guard and post player, we are good to go.

Unknown said...

"Recruits were headed out the door."

And out the door they went!

As soon as Taylor received his release, the reasons for promoting our assistant went out the door. You don't hire a guy based on the recruitment of a junior college player and a project big man. Ever.

Gene Frenkle said...


The metric for success is winning

Buzz never won before when given an opportunity. In fact, he left/quit the team.

The fact that they moved to fast was motivated by a true sense of urgency: recruits were heading out the door, and uncertainty leads to chaos in the mind of an 18 year old.

Really? You mean, "continuity"? You don't say. I'm assuming you meant to say recruits "headed" out the door...as in past tense...as in...MU's two top recruits, who were supposedly the reason Buzz was hired, headed out the door the minute he was hired.

Again, this isn't a Buzz slam fest, it's a Cottingham slam fest. He could be proven right and we all hope he is. But the process that went into this decision either speaks to his level of being a complete buffoon, a moron, clueless or lazy (or a little bit of everything).

MU athletics, particularly their mens hoops teams, is a multi-million dollar business. If you ran such a business, one that had so much money at stake and so much visability, would you grab the assistant that worked in the office to fill the gig, or would you put together a true, national search.

If you said the former, I hope to God you aren't in upper management for any of the public companies I own stock in.

Anonymous said...

The recruits were gone as soon as Tom Crean stepped out the door and turned his back on everybody. There was nothing anyone could have done to change their minds. If they would have done a national search the recruits would have signed with someone else at that point and the head coach wouldn't have had an opportunity to keep them. Plus, the coaches we were looking at such as Tony Bennet,the Xavier Head Coach and the UNLV head coach were not interested.

Yes Buzz left his team and didn't win but you go to the little school of New Orleans and expect to get a winning record in one season. Have more faith in Marquette and quit being Negative Nancys about this whole situation.

Unknown said...

If Cottingham had interviewed a dozen coaches and then hired Buzz Williams would people be satisfied? Or if Tony Bennett was the only one interviewed and was hired would people complain? I believe there is bias both ways. Both against Cottingham hiring process and his selection. But it's water over the dam. I say give Buzz a chance, so far he seems to be doing a good job.

The Chuter said...

How pathetic!

It’s not the length of the search that has Gene and the rest of the Tom Crean fan-club-for-life up in arms. No: it’s the cold, hard fact that no matter how long the search, the big names were NEVER going to come to Marquette. That’s what hurts. Not the AD who was a lawyer. Not the coach who was an assistant. It’s the lack of validation regarding all the time and money you spend on this blog and team, that it’s not top tier and well below the Big Ten.

I, for one, went to Marquette for academics. I was fortunate enough to be a contemporary of Doc Rivers, Mike Wilson and others, but never for once felt I was at UCLA.

Get over it.

Gene Frenkle said...

In case you don't know, there may have been two "big names" that turned MU down. But, there were at least 100+ more candidates with more experience than Buzz or more buzz than Buzz. THAT'S the key.

If MU actually spoke to a Lowery or a Brownell, the comments on this blog would be completely different. People would be upset still, but, they wouldn't have the process to blame.

Cottingham's lame ass excuses have only opened up the wound because it proved that MU never did anything more than talk to two of the hottest names in the country and then throw up their arms and hire the guy down the hall.

I'm sorry, but that's a horrific way to hire the most public job on MU's campus.

Unknown said...

Are we going to hear after every Marquette loss, "Why did Cottingham hire Buzz?" If we are, I pity you.

Gene Frenkle said...

You mean, like "Crean sucks. He can't coach. He could only win with Wade!"

You mean asinine quotes like that? No.

But if criticism is warranted, then yes. I certainly will say my goal as a fan will not be to criticize the coach after every game like the Crean haters did. I will, however, judge his entire body of work at the conclusion of the season.

I have better thnigs to do and people have better things to read than hearing myself (and others that don't like the decision) scream "told you so" for an entire season. Let's hope it doesn't come down to that.