Saturday, March 11, 2006

I want Majerus and other hoops thoughts

It ain't gonna happen, but I want Rick Majerus hired as the new men's basketball coach for the University of Missouri. I also think that Mike Alden, the AD, either should be fired or forced to resign, but that ain't gonna happen either. Granted, he's done a very good job at fundraising for the athletic department; but he seems like a sleazebag who is all about the money. Here are some of the notable things done at MU under his watch (whether they were directly done by him or not) that I personally dislike: 1) Selling out Norm Stewart - Norm should've probably retired a few years before he did, but he built the basketball program; I think he's bigger than Dan Devine at Mizzou and the new arena should've been named after him...and this is coming from someone who was not even that big a fan of his; 2) the new Missouri Tigers logo that was unveiled in '99 or 2000 (Bring back the old one!); 3) the fact that the basketball jerseys say "MIZZOU" and not "MISSOURI" - that's like Syracuse having "CUSE" on their jerseys or Washington State having "WAZZU" on their jerseys - it's stupid. Put MISSOURI back on. 4) He hired Quin Snyder. Quin, although he actually does seem like a nice guy who cares about his players, was an absolutely horrible coach who cheated in his recruiting practices. I don't care if the final findings were that most, if not all, the violations were minor...they were collectively bad and they started from his first year at Mizzou. Losing is one thing...but to have the program's image stained like a Cincinnati or an SEC school is something I abhor and should not be tolerated. Alden hired Quin over Bill Self. Now, I haven't been too impressed with Bill Self's offensive system, and I think he may be a bit overrated as a coach, but compared to Quin Snyder, he's like John Wooden.

I doubt Alden will resign or be I can only hope that he gets it right with hiring the next coach. If Majerus is healthy, he is the logical choice. Look at what he did with Utah and his reputation among other coaches. He is so highly respected that Dean Smith wanted him to coach at North Carolina before the Tar Heels settled on Matt Doherty in 2000. Who cares if he can only coach for 5 years; I think by the time he's done (whether it's 5 years or 10 years) the program will be in great shape - from the program itself to the possible hiring of one of his assistant coaches...he'll leave it in much better shape, maybe even top 15-20. He's too much of a bright basketball mind that although it might be a small gamble, the potential reward is great.

If not Majerus, other names thrown around include John Calipari, Bob Huggins, John Beilein, Mike Anderson, Jamie Dixon, Billy Gillespie, Dana Altman, and Greg McDermott, to name a few. Although Beilein or Gillespie would be nice, I'm a bit lukewarm about some of these names, but that's because I really don't know anything about them, other than basic win-loss records, which can be misleading. Two people I definitely DO NOT want are Calipari and Huggins. The MU program's name, due to Quin and his staff, is already muddied and has a dirty reputation. I don't care what the defenders of Huggins and Calipari say, to hire one of them tells me that the university does not care about its image and just cares about wins and losses. The day the university hires either of them, I may stop rooting for Mizzou basketball...I'll wish the best for everything about the university, but not the basketball program under Huggins or Calipari. There are some (maybe many) MU fans who don't care - they'll take Calipari or Huggins - as long as Mizzou wins. I love my alma mater, and it pains me to say this...but many Missouri fans, at least the vocal ones on are embarrassing. Every fanbase, including very knowledgeable ones like UNC, Duke, and Kentucky, has their share of irrational idiots, but there seems to be so many more on tigerboard, from just plain old dumb-asses to absolutely classless ones who'll mercilessly rip on the kids representing their school and tell them to transfer, or even worse (if rarely) hope that they (or their opponents) get injured. Perhaps it's due to the poor design of the forum, with the some of the very same topics being started over and over, even if there's the exact same thread just half a page down. I haven't posted in over 2 years due to the sheer stupidity of these many bad apples, but everytime I check the site, it's just annoying, and I'm better off just talking to my friends in person or over the phone. I know there are many dedicated and knowledgeable Missouri fans, but it's hard to find them on tigerboard.

A week and a half ago, I had 3 friends over to watch the Duke-Carolina game on the new plasma. Watching the game in HD is at least ten times better than standard definition. I don't know if it's actually worth the money, but watching college basketball in HD is awesome. Two of the guys were Mizzou grads while the other's a Carolina grad. Since I represent both schools, I sort of bridged the gap as the MU grads and the Carolina grad got to know each others' perspectives a little more. There's a thought among MU and KU fans that the border war rivalry is more intense than the Duke-Carolina rivalry because between KU and MU, there's hate, while Carolina and Duke, since they're so close to each other, they hang out and it's more of a friendly rivalry. Not true. After talking to me and especially the UNC grad, the MU grads definitely understood that the hatred between KU and MU pales in comparison to Duke-UNC. That's not to say that one's necessarily better than the other. If you're a diehard MU fan or a diehard KU fan, there's no other rivalry that compares. Same goes for UNC-Duke, Louisville-Kentucky, etc. The Carolina grad learned, I think, that no matter what he can say about Roy Williams, at least 90% of Missouri fans will always hate him. He did try his hardest to understand and explain, but that's when I had to step in and tell him, "You cannot expect and/or convince most Mizzou fans to like Roy, no matter how solid your argument is, just like you cannot convince UNC fans to accept or like anything Duke." It took me almost two years to finally accept and like Roy Williams. (To see how I became a Carolina fan, see a previous entry.) When Doherty was forced to resign, I hoped that it wouldn't be Roy and that Carolina would somehow get Larry Brown or George Karl. Even after hiring Roy, who I knew deep inside to be the best man for the job, that wasn't enough to keep me from rooting for the Heels...I just liked the players too much, like Felton, May, Noel, Manuel, etc...and because Dean Smith had become one of my heroes. Although it took me a while, I think of Roy as not only a great coach, but a really good person who truly cares about every player on the team, including the walk-on benchwarmers. This may be blasphemy to some Mizzou fans, but I'm afraid it's true. But if a fellow Mizzou fan tells me that they can't root for UNC because of Roy, all I can say is, "I understand" because I really do. At least I can't stand Bill Self, and under him, the KU program is much more easily hatable.

In any case, I truly hope that Mizzou gets it right with the new hire and that they come back with a vengeance. I know many Missouri fans are a bit delusional, thinking that the program is traditionally a top 20 program. I know that's not true...but most Mizzou fans are absolutely correct in thinking that the program is a sleeping giant and Quin Snyder was a tranquilizer. From its facilities to a very livable college town of Columbia to being in a major conference to just the high quality of the university itself, the Missouri job is a very attractive one, and with the right coach and staff, it can easily compete for the Big 12 title every year with an occasional Final Four run. So, go Mizzou in the (near) future and go Carolina.