Recently, there has been a lot of talk among Maryland fans (including here at ECB) that it's time for Gary Williams to either resign or be fired.
This shouldn't be surprising, as the "Fire Gary" crowd has been around as long as I've been a Terps fan. They shut up for a couple weeks after the National Championship, but other than that, they've been a constant presence in College Park.
The ranks of the Gary haters swell and contract with the fortunes of the team, and lately they have become too numerous to ignore.
Jeremy laid out the arguments of the anti-Gary crowd pretty well, but here's the gist of them:
- Gary can't recruit the top-quality players needed to compete in the ACC
- The National Championship was essentially a fluke because Gary somehow managed to land Juan Dixon and Steve Blake
- The Terps offense is ineffective and boring
- Gary has lost the fire that made him a good coach early in his career (he plays too much golf now, he cares more about hanging out at Bentley's than basketball, etc.)
- Some of the haters fall back on the simple fact that the Terps are losing more than these "fans" want, so obviously Gary should be fired
The bulk of the case against Gary stems from the failure of the team to make the NCAA tournament in 3 of the past 4 years. This year looks like it may mean another return to the NIT. After Gary's amazing run of 11 straight NCAA tournament berths, the past few years have indeed been a disappointment. Terps fans need to remember, though, that it was only 7 years ago that the Terps were National Champions, and only 5 years ago that they won the ACC Tournament. While the teams since then have generally failed to live up to expectations, the simple fact is that each year they have been 1 or 2 games away from making the NCAA tournament. Another 2 conference wins each year, and Gary's streak would be at 15. Obviously that didn't happen, but the point is that the Terps have been on the bubble every year.
I, for one, am optimistic. Gary continues to develop players (Dave Neal and Landon Milbourne being the most obvious examples this year), and the recruiting classes for the next few years look good. The Terps may not make the tournament this year, but they'll be competitive in the ACC and I think they'll make it back in the next few seasons. If not, I'll still be cheering.
My feelings about Gary are best summed up by a Jewish Passover song called Dayenu. The title means "it would have been enough for us." And the song is a list of all the things God has done for the Jews, each of which is followed by the word "dayenu," meaning that if God had only done one of those things, it would have been enough. So, this is probably sacrilegious, but here goes:
- If Gary had brought the program back from disgrace, dayenu
- If Gary had erased the pain of Len Bias and Bob Wade, dayenu
- If Gary had shown such love for his alma mater that he'd take over for a program under sanctions, dayenu
- If Gary had brought us Joe Smith, dayenu
- If Gary had run a clean program, dayenu
- If Gary had led the team to the Sweet Sixteen, dayenu
- If Gary had led the team to the Final Four, dayenu
- If Gary had won an ACC Championship, dayenu
- If Gary had won the NCAA Championship, dayenu