Buzz Williams’ media availability Thursday afternoon was a fascinating look into the mind of one of the most well-compensated college basketball coaches in the country. Yea, he had some boiler plate preview stuff about the rivalry with Wisconsin–seen in the video above–as well as some left over thoughts on Florida. (If you want your previews this and this are two good ones.)
But Buzz had much more interesting things to say to open the press conference when he and Tom Pippins engaged in some banter about who would replace Bret Bielema at Wisconsin. As everyone knows, Bielema coaches football, not basketball, making it all the more interesting that Buzz would be so in tune with the goings on in Madison as well as the rest of the country.
“I just like following all that stuff,” Williams said after discussing why Boise State coach Chris Petersen wouldn’t leave for Cal or Wisconsin, why Paul Chryst’s $8 million buyout would prevent him from leaving and why Gary Patterson wouldn’t take off on TCU after the money they put into that program. “That’s what I do at night, read all of it.”
It’s no secret Buzz is quite a stats guy, making his deep knowledge of current events understandable. The more interesting bit is just how much he relates to coaches having to make difficult decisions about when to leave and why.
“It’s really delicate. I think that’s why I study it so much, honestly,” Williams said.”Kate prints out a bunch of stuff for me every day. I TIVO a lot of press conferences. I read every major newspaper every day, college football, college basketball.
“It’s delicate because lives are at stake, families are at stake. And the other part that maybe you guys don’t know, that coach Alvarez wouldn’t say, that coach Bielema wouldn’t say, maybe there’s some things going on that nobody knows. You can’t divulge all of that so I think it’s delicate.”
You hear those quotes from a coach in a firmly established position like Jim Boeheim at Syracuse or Roy Williams at North Carolina and you are simply impressed with their thirst for knowledge. You hear those quotes from a coach that was rumored to be mulling over a departure to a school with no pedigree like SMU, and that makes you tilt your head a bit.
No, I am not one to stoke rumors or fan flames of idiotic musings, but when a topic like this is broached voluntarily, it’s only human to try and fit the puzzle pieces together. So I asked Buzz, given the mass exodus out of the Big East if he thought Big East schools would have a tougher time landing big name coaches.
“I gave the politically correct answer for three-and-a-half months,” Buzz said as the media members waited on pins and needles. “I don’t know what the answer is.”
Pop go the juicy stories.
“The decisions, number one, are based on money, and money is derived from football. Is the conference realignment over? I would say no. When is it going to be over? It’s hard to say. Is it going to turn into four power conferences and everybody else is going to figure it out? I don’t know.I don’t think the presidents know. I don’t think the ADs know. I don’t think the commissioners know.
“That’s why for us, and for me, in the chair where I sit in, that’s why the commitment from our institution and the commitment that’s been at Marquette maybe is as critical as anything, because if we weren’t in that position from a commitment standpoint, now all of a sudden the league changes probably impact you even more.”
Nothing too revolutionary in that statement, but it does bolster the argument that as long as the administration’s backing remains, Marquette can compete at a high level.
One final point. Buzz ended his answer to my question by noting he’s gotten tired of following all the movement and that he heard Old Dominion was in the Big East now. It came as news to the man who reads everything and anything related to college basketball and football that it was only for field hockey.
“I guess the Twitter wasn’t long enough to add that. Goodness gracious.”
Make of it what you will, but I have a tough time believing a man who rattled off the four schools Arizona State football coach Todd Graham has coached at without hesitation doesn’t know what teams are in his conference.