Mark Tuesday down as the day when the Gary Williams-Debbie Yow feud got real. Like, ugly and unpleasant and public and brutish and nasty and public and really, really real.
The climax came during Yow’s N.C. State press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“I don’t have a reputation across all men’s basketball as being difficult to work with," Yow told chuckling reporters. “I have a reputation of not getting along with Gary Williams, who has tried to sabotage the search. C'mon. We all know that. Okay? So, whatever. It’s not a reputation, it’s Gary Williams out there doing his thing. Whatever.”
Williams responded via a statement, which I’m borrowing from the Baltimore Sun:
“I haven’t talked to anyone — coach or athletic director — connected to the N.C. State search. I don’t have any interest in the N.C. State search, since I’m coaching at Maryland and working hard to run our program. Anyone who says I’ve had contact with a prospective coach or athletic director regarding this search isn’t being truthful.”
But the first shots were actually fired much earlier in the day, when CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel — after identifying himself as a Yow sympathizer who finds the AD to be “just dripping with competency” — went after Williams. Hard. This was on David Glenn’s North Carolina radio show; you can hear it here, about eight minutes into the second segment.
In praising the AD’s behavior, Doyel said Yow “just wants it done right, wants it done well,” and doesn’t have a big ego. Then he was asked about her notoriously poor relationship with Williams.
“Let’s find one person in the world that says I’ve had a good relationship with Gary Williams,” Doyel said.
And then he was asked if he thought Williams had influence on who would take the N.C. State job.
“Well, he has influence, and not because people think Gary Williams is so brilliant and trustworthy that if he tells me something, dadgummit, it must be true,” Doyel said. “I don’t think he has that much influence. I don’t want to give that little tiny little petty human being that much credit. And by the way, I e-mailed Gary’s PR director yesterday back and forth three times, saying I want to talk to Gary very specifically about his influence on the N.C. State coaching search. They’ve not gotten back to me after I made it clear exactly what I want, so it’s very possible he’s gonna duck me, that coward.
“But in the meantime, the reason he’s had an impact is this: if you’re a good coach at a good school...it’s hard to pull the trigger and say I’m winning here at Arizona or Texas, or I’m winning here at VCU, wherever it is that I’m winning at, and I want to go to N.C. State, where they haven’t won the last couple years. It requires a whole lot of confidence. And if you get one person — and that person’s Gary Williams — to say the AD’s not easy to work for, that will allow someone to justify their own [feelings]....Basically, Gary Williams is giving coaches an excuse to do the easy thing, which is stay where they are.”
Well, if that’s all Gary Williams was doing, that’s not a terribly damning thing. The conversation then moved on. But Doyel wasn’t ready for it to be over. He had more to say.
“Are we done talking about Gary Williams?” he later asked. “I want to make this very clear, that if Gary Williams does not return my call, he’s scared of me. And so he can act all big and bad, and he can stand there on his coaching bench and turn around and yell at his assistant coaches, who've done nothing wrong. And when a guy on the court travels, he can turn around and yell at the 12th man on his bench, because he’s a little bitty tiny coward runt of a man. He can do all that.
“But here I am on your radio show, and in an e-mail to his PR guy three times, begging him to talk to me about what he’s been saying behind Debbie Yow’s back and hurting the N.C. State head coaching search. And if he doesn’t call me back, then all that means to me is he’s a little bitty tiny coward of a man.”
Oh. Just that. Wait, not just that.
“Gary Williams, you call me back, or you’re a spineless little fraction of a man,”Doyel concluded.