My wife, daughter, and I were on a tour of the athletic facilities way back about five years ago. The school had just hired a new Athletic Director whose first big hire was a new basketball coach after several years of total meltdown with the Seth Greenberg fiasco and the JJ followup mess. We were touring the old basketball training facilities and the guide informed us that the basketball team was practicing so we could look in, but not go in.
We looked, talked among ourselves, and those of us with some knowledge of sports noted that maybe things would change now that a new coach was starting and we didn’t want to interrupt anything. So, the group started to move on. The door of the practice gym opened and someone said... “No... No... We were just about to take a lunch break why don’t y’all come in and meet everyone.” Well, what started was about 40 minutes of a pep talk from what we found out was the Head Coach. That was the guy... the one who invited us in... and then brought us into the wrap of the first practice session of the day to break the team, and meet the parents and have the players introduce themselves to their new fellow Hokies and their folks. It was really special.
Well, I was wondering given the rumors, innuendo, and continual coach talk ducking if you are going to stay. That session had an impression and I was really hoping that it was something real and not contrived.
Look, we all know that even with as much money as Whit Babcock could scrape together, that this place is not Texas. It’s not College Station, and the big huge money of the SEC. It is a program on the upswing, courtesy of your efforts, in the toughest conference in Division 1 NCAA Men’s Basketball.
You took a team from the basement, and in five seasons turned it into a “Sweet 16” program. That’s special and no one is going to forget that. I would certainly hope that you haven’t. Why?
Because, Buzz, you aren’t done, yet. I am not someone who begs. If you leave, Whit Babcock will just have to find another coach. But we all know that the program will take a serious hit. We know that there will be critical assistants and maybe even players who will also follow you out the door.
So, you made the Sweet 16? Cool. It wasn’t the Elite 8, or the Final Four. Heck the Hokies didn’t even get into the finals of the ACC. We finished, what? 5th? So, there is also a reality that “done” might not be the National Championship. However, the truth also is that you and this current Hokie Men’s Basketball program are not done.
If you walk away for something other than money then we cannot be too disappointed. You might have those sorts of reasons, connections, you’re a Texan, pride - it was a first big job. You might actually like College Station way better than Blacksburg (Don’t say that too loud, though.)
If you do walk away for the money, well, you’ll have to remember that you will leave a really bad taste in Hokie Nation’s collective mouths. We are kind of blue collar folks and when most of us make over a certain level that we are going to be permanently comfortable we begin to ask the proverbial “how much more?” question. It comes with the territory when someone is netting more money in a year than most of us will make in decades or even a lifetime. So you’ll have to forgive the grimacing.
What I do know, for absolute sure is that ‘if’ you leave, you are leaving an unfinished work. You will be starting from zero all over again, and you might just be forgetting something. The great coaches of NCAA basketball are aligned with great programs and schools. Wooden, Smith, Knight, Tarkanian, even Coach K... all were synonymous with single programs. I had hoped that Buzz Williams would be remembered for being Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer of Basketball. When someone thought of one, they thought of the other. If you leave... that’s not going to happen.
I don’t know if I had something going this well, that I’d be willing to allow it to become a footnote along with so many other minor footnotes in Virginia Tech Basketball history. There are many of us that really didn’t want Buzz Williams to be footnote 5.
That’s really all that I had to say. You’re going to do what you are going to do.
All the Best,
John - The Mighty Fahvaag