Through all the turmoil at Maryland, Gary Williams has outlasted them all
Sunday, January 9, 2011; 12:05 AM
There was a press conference in College Park last week in which no one was hired or fired. In front of reporters, microphones and cameras, a coach calmly talked about his sport and a game his team convincingly won.
No job-security questions. No tears. No university officials awkwardly explaining anything. No drama.
"I like how we came out and played," Gary Williams said after his team pounded Colgate for win No. 659. "We got after it."
The Maryland men's basketball coach takes a big kid named Jordan Williams and yet another bunch of unranked scrappers into Cameron Indoor Arena on Sunday, another how-in-the-hell-can-he-beat-Duke team.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are No. 1 and fresh off a national title. They haven't lost since last March in College Park, to another Terrapins team they were favored to beat. Which is why Coach K is fond of saying, "If it's a Gary Williams-coached team, all bets are off; they'll be ready."
It took a while, but normalcy is slowly returning to Maryland. On Sunday, there will be no stench over Ralph Friedgen's firing or the fact that the university and athletic department have undergone a dramatic upheaval the past year.
Ralph is out. Debbie Yow, the former athletic director, left for North Carolina State. C.D. Mote Jr., the school president during Williams's highest and lowest moments over the past decade, is gone, too.
Even the football coach-in-waiting and well-regarded recruiter, James Franklin, up and left College Park for Vanderbilt because he could see the tide turning.
All the people who could either upstage or fire Gary Williams, a lock for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, have either been run off or left before the kitchen got too hot.
But they didn't get Gary. They never get Gary.
"He's survived everything," says Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the former Maryland governor and one of Williams's confidantes. "In politics, sports and life, I've never met anyone like him. I've never seen anything like Gary and his bunker."