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College Basketball's Most Overrated Coach? Ol' Roy

Ovvvver-raaaated.  At least, that's what a significant percentage of almost 100 of Roy Williams' peers thinks.
Ovvvver-raaaated. At least, that's what a significant percentage of almost 100 of Roy Williams' peers thinks.

I have long believed that Roy Williams gets a lot more credit in the media than he deserves, mostly because he's a good guy, appears to coach a clean program (although Greg Alan Edwards seems to have doubts), and because he is a quotable, glad-handing guy that is impossible to dislike.

According to "nearly 100 of the nation's coaches, however, he's the most overrated coach in the land. Here's the pithy bit from CBS Sports' Gary Parrish:


The first thing that must be made clear here is that the coaches we polled seemed to take the question of who is the nation's most overrated coach strictly as the nation's most overrated coach, as in a guy who draws up plays and stuff. Which is fine. But I've always rejected that premise in college basketball because, I've long believed, actual coaching ranks pretty far down the list of things that are important for a man to succeed in this sport. I'll take the guy who is a great recruiter and great motivator -- and who has the ability to hire a great staff -- over the best Xs and Os guy every day. But whatever. I'm not here to argue that point as much as I'm here to make sense of the results of our poll, and the above comment about Roy Williams is probably the best hint as to why he received more votes than anybody else.

"He's won at Kansas and UNC. But who couldn't do that ... besides Matt Doherty?"

In fairness, that's a decent point.

I think we see a very interesting dichotomy in this paragraph. Parrish clearly hates writing that Williams is overrated, and basically rejects it outright, blaming the narrow scope of the question (which was not actually provided) for the result, and claiming that considering all areas, he'd prefer Roy Williams to a great basketball coach any day. He spends the rest of his piece defending Williams from this finding.

This just reinforces the point I made in the first paragraph of this article -- Williams is well-liked by the media and they are generally loath to criticize him at this level. This is about as big and blatant a bailout as you'll ever see, and just reinforces the idea that these guys in the sports press, even when reporting straight news, are not quite as objective as they often insist. If you need more proof of that, consider that today's question for the coaches is, "Is William Wesley (aka World Wide Wes) a factor in recruiting or is his perceived presence overblown?" Why William Wesley and not something more generic? I think we all know.

I find it somewhat extraordinary that less than 4% of coaches didn't mention John Calipari. Yes, I am aware that he was considered underrated by 7% of this same group, but it's fascinating to me that he didn't get gigged in the overrated category at all. It has been a constant theme of rival fans and even some people in the Big Blue Nation that Calipari really can't coach X's and O's very well.

But then again, I've never seen Calipari's coaching prowess at the X's and O's level lauded by anyone, except to the extent that some say he deserves more credit for that part of his game than he gets. Perhaps Cal is insulated in this case by generally low expectations of his technical prowess. I can't say for sure.

I will say, however, that the judgment of Williams as the most overrated looks right to me. Williams' teams are all the same, all play the same, and he never seems to make any adjustment for talent. He just recruits for his system, sends his guys running up and down the floor and considers defense optional unless the other team is close. I've criticized North Carolina's defensive effort many times, and to me, the offense seems remarkably unsophisticated -- send great athletes down the floor as fast as possible and put up the first good look you get. That's what it looks like, even though I'm sure that's a vast oversimplification of it.

The only surprise in this group, to me, is Villanova's Jay Wright, but perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. Wright's teams are consistently inconsistent, with only 2005-06 showing top-ten production in back-to-back years. He gets a lot of "doing more with less" credit, but if you look at his recruiting, it's about at the same level as Tom Izzo's at Michigan St. Spartans, and his results are not nearly as good.

What are your thoughts about this group?