Let me be clear -- I don't blame any coach for not wanting to takeover the basketball program at the University of Minnesota. It's a great institution, but I imagine that when you're recruiting against North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida for the top recruits, winters in Minnesota are a factor...
But seeing this article on ESPN.com last night got me thinking -- coaches like Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens, Mark Few and the like are afraid -- afraid of winning.
Don't get me wrong, these guys are all terrific coaches and based on what I've seen and read about them, they all sound like wonderful people, but how are these guys not getting vilified for what they're doing? They are among the best in their craft and yet, when better opportunities present themselves, they turn the other way.
If a big free agent takes more money to go to a perennial loser, he gets crucified -- but these guys pass on real opportunities to win, and win big, yet choose to stay put, and everyone applauds them. I don't get it.
Look, out of the bunch, Stevens has the most reason to stay because he's taken his program as far as he possibly can without actually winning it all. But, let's be honest, what he was able to do involved the perfect storm of senior personnel, right breaks in the brackets, and a couple of fortunate bounces. He might be lucky enough to have that happen once a decade, which if I'm a true competitor, isn't enough.
But look at Gonzaga this year -- their bracket was setup for ultimate success and they fell short. What more could they have asked for?
Can you go 20-9 at VCU or Butler or Gonzaga, get a good seed in the tournament, and play to the second weekend, probably. But, can you do it consistently and hang banners -- highly doubtful.
I understand why these guys are staying put (high income, lower pressure, personal reasons, etc.), but passing on opportunities to win at big time programs like UCLA shouldn't get these guys kudos, it should get their AD's worried that "good enough" is all they are striving for.
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