" ... interlock your fingers and slowly drop to your knees."
I suppose if I were North Carolina coach Roy Williams I'd feel pretty good, too. After all, he's won two national titles at UNC (2005, 2009), and would have had a good shot at another if electric point guard Kendall Marshall had not suffered a broken wrist in Carolina's round of 32 win in the 2012 NCAA tournament.
Williams has won and won big during his coaching tenure at his alma mater, and at Kansas before that, compiling 675 wins against only 169 losses, while coaching in seven Final Fours. In total, Williams has won five conference Coach of the Year honors, and was the 1997 Naismith College Coach of the Year, and in both 1992 and 2006 Williams was named the AP Coach of the Year. Williams also won the Henry Iba Award in 1990 and 2006.
Without question (at least in my mind) Williams has cemented his place among the best college basketball coaches working not only today, but any day. Now, though, he finds himself in a very unfamiliar, and I'm sure, quite uncomfortable position as the glaring microscope of scrutiny has hit Williams and his allegedly above-the-fray program with a quickness.
With the college basketball nation's fingers pointing in the general direction of Chapel Hill, chastising Carolina for allowing some players to reportedly attend fake classes (did no one learn from the Jim Harrick mess at Georgia?), for an amount of time that may reach back to 2001 (Williams arrived at UNC in 2003), for the first time ever, the UNC super power basketball program is being questioned about academic impropriety, the (alleged) likes of which have never been seen before now.
To Williams' credit, though, even with a potentially far-reaching academic scandal hanging over his beloved Tar Heels like an ominous dark cloud of doom, the decorated man at the helm of Baby Blue Nation answered questions (sort of). Yes, in a two-minute forty-one second interview, Williams answered but two softly tossed questions about "Falsified Credit-Gate," and with a not unexpected all-is-fine-in-fantasy-land refrain from Williams, the idol worshiping "reporters" on hand dropped the matter.
Instead of at least pretending to be reporters and asking a follow-up question of some sort -- something like, "Coach, I know you claim nothing untoward has happended, but evidence to the contrary seems to be mounting. Is it that you don't know the truth, or that you know the truth, but won't share it with us" -- the assembled scribes "pressed" Ol' Roy about the health of his guards, and the roses in his garden.
In the quickie interview recorded after Williams played in a golf event, the Hall of Fame coach comes across as the Roy we've come to know over the years; pretty friendly, pretty loose, and fairly free of worry. But unless all that's been unearthed thus far concering academic fraud at UNC is bogus, and not actual evidence, Williams has considerable reason to run for the hills. Already laced with one NCAA head-on collision (albeit a minor one), Williams possibly has his reputation, and just maybe, the future of his coaching career on the line.
Williams, though, appeared carefree in the video. Perhaps because he knew the local "reporters" would take it easy on him, perhaps because he and his program are legitimately innocent of any wrong-doing (as Williams adamantly claims), whatever the reason for his aw shucks attitude, Williams would be well advised to wear out his knees praying for exculpatory evidence, for if what we think we know turns out to be reality, the price to pay for the crimes could be high. For with the NCAA proclaiming here and now as the dawning of the Age of Accountability in college athletics, and with a knockout punch thrown at Penn State by NCAA prez Mark Emmert to back its claim, a fraud of this(alleged) magnitude would surely be met with severe NCAA action.
Although Williams' career has been as successful as nearly any coach who ever paced the sidelines, if the entirety of his nine-year reign at Carolina is marred by academic fraud, an allegedly widespread fraud which enabled ineligible players to perform on the court for the Heels, Williams' larger-than-life legacy and Carolina's immediate basketball future will be on the chopping block, begging for mercy.
Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!