Running away vs running toward a job
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
Others on this blog will opine separately with different posts...the feelings right now are mixed amongst us. Some are excited, others are scratching their heads. Some feel this is retread territory, others see an exciting new chapter ahead. Here's my take - I was all in for Shaka in 2014. He was my #1 choice...hot coach, diversity hire, fun style, a Wisconsin guy, had a Final Four. He checked a lot of boxes. It was apparently a #donedeal, until it wasn't.
It was in 2014 that Smart spurned Marquette to take the Texas job. Now, seven years later, Marquette hires Smart. In 2014, Smart was running toward a job, be it Marquette or Texas. Today, he appears to running away from a job in Austin. He was about to be fired from Texas for not performing in the NCAA tournament and roster turnover (sound familiar)? My ideal candidate is not hiring someone one step ahead of the firing squad, but here we are.
Smart gets a new lease on life as the coaching clock starts over again. Texas fans are thrilled, which should tell you something. Thrilled is an understatement, they have wanted Smart gone the last few years and now they could be getting Chris Beard. That's how it is done, that's a huge coaching upgrade. Did Marquette just get a coaching upgrade? Maybe he is the right guy, maybe he was the right guy in 2014...I sure thought he was and disappointed we didn't land him. Today feels different. It feels like we settled. I'm glad we got an existing coach with experience, something I have been pushing for years, but it feels hypocritical that we hired someone that also did not succeed in the same time period that Wojo also didn't succeed...but here we are.
My personal belief is the NCAA tournament has a lot of luck to it...who you play, where you play, when you play, seeded properly, the matchup style. I say this because the coaches agree with me. Sure, #1 seeds have the best chance of winning the tournament if the seeding is done correctly, but as this year illustrated (again) what one expects with seeding results and actual events are two different things. Wojo struggled in the NCAA tournament...fans cannot wait to say two blowout losses while usually forgetting to mention one was to a Final Four team (South Carolina) and the other to a 12 seed (5 vs 12 history well known) and the #2 pick in the NBA. Are those same fans ok with losing as a 3 seed to a 14 seed named Abilene Christian whether at the buzzer or by 20? Losing to a 12th seeded Stephen F. Austin who didn't have the #2 NBA pick or ANY NBA player on their roster? Five straight NCAA first round losses, all of which Smart's teams were favored to win by Vegas, but hey he did go to a Final Four ten years ago so a perpetual pass? It's puzzling watching the mental gymnastics fans apply on criteria to one coach and same fans shifting criteria to a different coach to justify their acceptance....but here we are.
The Smart era starts today and we find out who is transferring out of Marquette and who is transferring in. It's not a bad hire, and I certainly hope it works out....but it sure would have been nice to hire someone running to Marquette, not running away from a firing at Texas. Regardless, welcome to Marquette - the program is now yours....and here we are.