Sometimes, the best hire is the one you don’t make.
Almost 50 years ago, when Frank McGuire left North Carolina for the NBA, very few Tar Heel supporters wanted to see his quiet, unassuming, 30-year-old assistant take his place. The exception was the school’s chancellor, who decided to give Dean Smith first crack at the job.
The Post Sports Live crew reviews the credentials and coaching history of new men's basketball head coach at the University of Maryland, Mark Turgeon.
The Post Sports Live crew debates whether or not the length of the coaching search is any kind of indictment on the reputation of the Maryland basketball program.
In 1980, Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters was being pushed by Bob Knight to hire one of Knight’s former assistants: Texas Coach Bob Weltlich. Butters’ gut told him the unknown coach at Army with the impossible-to-pronounce name was the right guy, but he didn’t think he could hire a coach from that level who had just gone 9-17. So he thanked Mike Krzyzewski for coming down for a second interview and sent him back to the airport, intending to call Weltlich.
When Steve Vacendak, Butters’ top lieutenant, asked him why he had sent Krzyzewski home, Butters said: “I think I’d get crushed for hiring him with his record and lack of experience.”
“Do you think he’s the best coach for the job?”
The way Butters told the story, that’s when he made his decision. He sent Vacendak to the airport to bring Krzyzewski back and offered him the job. He never called Weltlich.
Mark Turgeon is not a good hire for Maryland; he’s a great hire. There are plenty of numbers to prove it, but the most impressive one is this: He went to four straight NCAA tournaments at a school that couldn’t care less about basketball in a league that has been at least as competitive as the ACC — maybe more so — during that period.
Here is the list of ACC coaches who have been in the NCAA tournament each of the past four seasons: Krzyzewski.
If Maryland fans have learned anything in recent years, it is that you can’t take making it to the tournament for granted. They had become spoiled when Gary Williams got the Terrapins there for 11 straight seasons. It hasn’t been so easy since then: three bids in seven years.
Turgeon can coach. He can also recruit. You think it’s easy to get good players to go to College Station, Tex., to play basketball? He’s young, 46, two years older than Williams was when he arrived in College Park in 1989. He has plenty of pedigree, having played and coached under Larry Brown and coached under Roy Williams. No, he won’t cry like Ol’ Roy or declare his kids to be the greatest group of young men assembled since the first group of astronauts.
He will just coach the hell out of them.
Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson spent this past weekend trying to hire a coach who would win the news conference. Doing so might have been especially important to Anderson for two reasons: He lost the news conference a few months ago, when his fan base thought it was getting Mike Leach as the new football coach and instead got Randy Edsall. Time will tell whether that decision turns out to be fortunate for Maryland. What’s more, the basketball job at Maryland is without doubt the most important job on campus — including that of university president — and the new coach was going to follow the guy for whom the basketball court is about to be named.