Last week, John Feinstein made his weekly appearance on ESPN 980’s “The Sports Reporters.” The first topic of conversation between Feinstein and hosts Andy Pollin and Chris Knoche (also the color commentator for Maryland radio broadcats): Will Gary Williams coach again? Knoche seemed to think it’s not out of the question, while Feinstein highly doubted it.
In any case, channeling my inner Dan Steinberg, here’s the transcript of the discussion. What do you think about the chances of Williams coaching again?
Andy Pollin: We were just talking a lot about Gary Williams, because Knoche and I both saw him last night and I remarked how happy he seems not to be coaching. And Knoche believes he’s gonna be back in, what did you say, 16, 18 months?
Chris Knoche: Just throwin’ it out there, but he looks too good to me, too vibrant, to stay on the sidelines.
Pollin: You suggested Ivy League. What do you think of that, John?
John Feinstein: [Laughs] Gary in the Ivy League?
Pollin: That’s what he said.
Feinstein: I think it would make him crazy. I think he’s coached for too many years at the top level, not just at Maryland, but before that at Boston College, at Ohio State, places where you had a legitimate chance to go to the Final Four. He was at the Sweet 16 at Boston College and lost a game at the buzzer with a chance to go to the Elite Eight. He had a couple of very good teams at Ohio State, lost a game he should have won to Georgetown. And of course we all know what he did at Maryland. I don’t see that, with all due respect to Coach Knoche. And I’m predicting that Gary will not coach again. I think he’s gonna be busy in retirement. He’s gonna be doing some work for Under Armour, he’s got some stuff he’s got to do with Maryland, he’ll do some TV and radio, he’s got a new wife. I think he’ll keep busy enough that, even though there’s no question Gary looks 45 . . .
Pollin: I know, that’s what we were saying.
Feinstein: I wish I looked as young as he does. But, the fact is he’s 66, and I think he was worn out not by practice, not by games, but by the whole recruiting thing, and again, I hear what Chris is saying, to recruit Ivy League kids is an entirely different deal, but I just don’t see Gary going there at the age of, you know, 68 or something like that….But I agree with you guys I think he is very happy right now, and it’s because he hasn’t had to pick up a phone and talk to anybody about a 16-year-old kid the day he decided to retire.
Knoche: I just wonder, John, when October 15th or 20th rolls around . . .
Feinstein: Oh, he’ll miss it.
Knoche: . . . and there is the void that you know will be there. . . . It’s easy right now. He’s golfing. He looks like a million bucks. He’s got the Division I tan working, no question about it.
Feinstein: Yeah, he was in Bermuda last week. . . . It’ll hit him on October 15th. When it’ll really hit him is the first time he’s either in the gym or turns on his TV. And I think the latter’s more likely -- ’cause I don’t see him sitting over Mark Turgeon’s shoulder, and sees his guys playing and someone else is coaching them. That’s when it will really hit him. And there’s no question, like any coach who’s ever retired, it’ll hit him. It’s interesting how different coaches handle retirement. Dean Smith never went to games. Couldn’t do it. He was too nervous, didn’t want to watch with other people around, didn’t want to feel like he was pressuring Bill Guthridge or then – you know, he didn’t speak to Matt Doherty – or Roy Williams. But John Thompson, you know, when he retired he went to almost every game.
Pollin: Now, he’s got his son coaching, it’s a little different.
Feinstein: But even when [Craig] Esherick was the coach, he would show up at a lot of the games. So everybody’s different. We’ll see how Gary deals with it. He’s gonna live in the area, so I’m guessing he can get tickets and probably pretty good parking.