Here are two of my latest from The Washington Post --------
Williams read almost all the letters. Some meant more than others, coming from old friends and coaching colleagues. One stood out. It came from a former Maryland coach.
“Congratulations,” it read in part. “You have now made Maryland the UCLA of the East.”
The note came from Lefty Driesell.
It was Driesell who made the term “UCLA of the East” famous when he came to Maryland in 1969 and boldly predicted he would build a program somehow comparable to college basketball’s most incomparable program.
Driesell came up 10 national championships short of John Wooden but he did put Maryland basketball on the national map, taking the Terrapins to eight NCAA tournaments in 17 seasons, twice reaching the Elite Eight. He left in 1986 in the aftermath of the Len Bias tragedy.
It was Williams, after the disastrous three-year tenure of Bob Wade, who picked up the pieces of a shattered program and made Maryland matter again. Ultimately, he did what Driesell could not do, taking Maryland to back-to-back Final Fours and the national title that brought the kind of joy to the Maryland campus that for years seemed impossible in the wake of Bias’s death.
Click here for the rest of the column: Maryland's Honor Violation
Flattered, I said, sure.
“What would you think about us joining Conference USA?” Vanderbush said.
My answer was instinctive rather than thought-out: “You’re kidding, right?”
Sadly, Vanderbush wasn’t kidding, nor was anyone else at West Point. They thought that being part of Conference USA’s TV package would give them more exposure and more revenue and being part of a league would help in recruiting.
Put simply, the end result was a disaster, culminating in an 0-13 season in 2003. To be fair, Todd Berry, who was hired in 2000 to replace Bob Sutton as coach, and Rick Greenspan, the athletic director who hired him, had as much to do with that record as playing in Conference USA did. But the decision to join C-USA in 1998 led to Sutton’s firing and a fall from football grace so precipitous that, all these years later, Army is still recovering.
Click here for the rest of the column: Navy Steps in the Wrong Direction
My newest book is now available at your local bookstore, or you can order on-line here: One on One-- Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game