Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Chinstraps and Mouthpieces: Say it ain’t so, Roy: Move leaves fans disappointed

April 16, 2003

The Bangles described it perfectly when they sang:

It's just another Manic Monday.

Whoa, whoa.

Wish it were Sunday.

Whoa, whoa.

That's my fun day.

My I-don't-have-to-run-day.

Jayhawk fans likely can't take any more of these manic Mondays.

In successive weeks Kansas has lost the national championship and their longtime almost-ready-for-sainthood coach Roy Williams.

In between, athletics director Al Bohl was fired. Bohl lambasted Williams after the firing, but now the respected coach might not be seen as favorably in many Jayhawks' eyes.

As for Sunday being an I-don't-have-to-run day for that '80s girls band, Roy followed up with Monday as a jam-packed day.

He told his current players Monday afternoon that he would be leaving and then headed out of Lawrence, stopping, with tears in his eyes, to let reporters know that official news would come that night. Outside that room where Roy broke the news to his soon-to-be former players, reporters waited for interviews they couldn't get with the 15-year Kansas coach.

It's funny how three years ago Roy was here until he retired. Unfortunately, he didn't retire Monday. Instead, he resigned and headed for North Carolina.

A Jayhawk fan can't be completely upset. It was his alma mater, a place he always wanted to someday coach. It's just hard to imagine that the situation could be all that different three years later.

It was always thought that Roy's wife, Wanda, wanted to get back to Tar Heel land, back to their home, but when you establish yourself for 15 years, home would seem to change its meaning.

But what happened to Roy's loyalty to those players three years ago? Did that change sometime between a post-championship game interview when he was concerned about those 13 kids in the locker room he loved and a Monday evening press conference in North Carolina? Did Williams stay the first time because of the standout class in Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison and Drew Gooden?

Then we have Carolina. The great Tar Heels with their coaching fraternity. On, the site had possible coaches who would fill Matt Doherty's spot in Chapel Hill, along with the odds that they would be the new UNC coach.

Each had upsides and downsides. For some, their downsides were to the effect of "not being in the Carolina family."

Apparently this coaching tree somehow became a mafia clan at some point. Perhaps that was the problem with hiring Doherty. They had to keep it in the family, even though someone else might have been more qualified. Keeping it in the family, however, isn't always a good thing.

But now Dean Smith's protege is back "home." Smith had Kansas as his alma mater, then turned down Kansas when he was established at his new home. Roy denied the alma mater once, but not twice. The scenario, unfortunately, couldn't be played out again with schools reversing roles. Nope, the "family" has one of its own back. This time, there must have been an offer he just absolutely could not refuse -- unless he wanted to swim with the fishes off the Carolina coast.

Interestingly enough, the Jayhawk "family" includes James Naismith, Phog Allen, Ted Owens, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, John Calipari, Larry Brown and Bill Self.

Sure, Calipari and Self were graduate assistants, and Brown graduated from North Carolina, but a school can look around the country a tad to find its next coach.

Kansas should thank UNC for Larry and Roy, but UNC gained Mr. Smith from KU.

It's an interesting circle, one that could go on and on, especially when I'm trying to face the reality that Williams no longer will grace the Kansas bench.

The guy was quite special, although he had his moments, like anyone. He sometimes got a bit testy with the local media, as I'm sure many coaches do. He sometimes sounded off about fans not being loud enough and he even might have drank a little too much Coca-Cola.

As much as he meant to KU, it's just unfortunate that Carolina kept knocking and knocking.

On Monday, he finally answered.

I think everyone has some desire to go back to that place they originally called home, but it just doesn't seem right that Williams will now wear a lighter shade of blue. Now, Roy will be in Chapel Hill where he and Dean Smith's shadow will hang out 24-7.

Although it's not easy to say so-long, as it probably couldn't have been to those players you were so close to in Lawrence, thank you , Roy, for 15 great years.

Now, we will welcome the next chapter in Kansas basketball history.

Bill Self is the name on everyone's tongues, while I am partial to Utah's Rick Majerus. Whoever the new coach is, the scene will be much different, but it still will exist.

Let's just hope they don't hire him next Monday.

I don't think I can take a third manic one in a row.

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