Roy Williams continued to push back against speculation that he could retire amid health concerns and the NCAA investigation that currently envelops the North Carolina athletic department.
“I love this place. If I was going to leave, I’d have left the first day because I knew I wasn’t involved,” Williams told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
This whole ordeal started on Saturday afternoon, before North Carolina beat Miami. Doug Gottlieb, an analyst for CBS Sports college basketball coverage, said on a broadcast that there was speculation in basketball circles that Williams could retire in the Tar Heels win a title. He’s not wrong. Between the investigation and Williams’ health issues — the vertigo is what everyone knows about but his knees aren’t exactly in great condition, either — it would make sense to anyone with a pulse that the 65-year old Williams would ride off into the sunset on a high note.
And that’s precisely why he reacted the way he did after the win on Saturday.
“Think about what we’ve had to do the last three or four years here. We’ve had to put up with more stuff, more negative recruiting, than anytime in my career or any other coaches career that I’ve talked to,” he said. “That’s just something else that we’ve got to answer to. It’s been unbelievable the last three or four years, the negative recruiting because of the stuff going on here that I’ve had to put up with.”
“I don’t want anything else. I don’t need anything else. You want to say something that’s your opinion, that’s fine. But don’t act like you’e got certain information.”
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
You don’t really have to look any further than the kid that killed him in Wednesday night’s loss to Duke: Brandon Ingram. Ingram is from Kinston, North Carolina, the same town that produced former Tar Heels Reggie Bullock and Jerry Stackhouse. But when it came time to pick where to play his, Ingram’s father Donald told the Raleigh News & Observer that looming sanctions “played a big factor” in his son’s decision to turn down UNC.
“We wanted to know that they’re not going to fall into the same situation like Jim Boeheim with Syracuse,” Donald said. “So you don’t want to go into a (situation) that’s already hot. And it played a factor in it.”
Williams also added this, which doesn’t just sound like coach-speak to me.
“With me, I don’t ever want to leave when things are — When I leave, I want it to be in good shape. For me this would have been a very hard time to leave.”
Everything coaches say and do in the media is for recruiting purposes. They’re not talking to reporters. They’re not talking to fans. They’re talking to the players that are considering playing for them.
But this is actually something that I buy.
Williams is part of the Tar Heel family. Dean Smith was his mentor, the first man to give him a college coaching job.
I absolutely believe that he doesn’t want to be the guy that left the UNC program in tatters from NCAA sanctions, in need of someone else to come in and build it back into something elite.
That doesn’t mean that he knows how this whole thing will play out. His health issues or a hammer dropping from the NCAA could eventually change his mind.
I just find it hard to believe he’s planning on jumping ship.