This is hard for me to say.
And I think it will be hard for some Maryland fans to accept.
Before I say it, I want to make it clear that I was NOT in the group of fans who wanted Gary Williams fired, and I do not believe there is a better X's and O's guy in the country.
But as much as I chose to ignore the signs, the game had passed Gary by.
His style is just not as effective as it was a decade ago. This is not to say his style isn't still effective, because it is, as evidence by his 2010 ACC Coach of the Year award. But his style is not National Championship-effective and a school like Maryland, with its location and facilities, should be competing for National Championships; they should not be struggling to get NCAA Tournament berths.
The problem was his aversion to today's recruiting game.
While I think his recruiting was very underrated (Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, Jordan Williams, Terrell Stoglin, Nick Faust and Justin Anderson in a six year span is pretty damn good for a "bad" recruiter), it was the difference between Maryland having good teams and Maryland having great teams.
College coaches need the AAU players to compete on a national level, and to get them, they have to have relationships with the AAU coaches.
Mark Turgeon understands the importance of forming relationships with these guys, and, by all accounts, he hasn't wasted any time in doing so. (Heck, it took him a week to get his first commitment, a 6-1 guard out of Virginia with a 40-inch vertical and a sweet stroke from deep named Seth Allen). He's added Dalonte Hill, a former AAU coach who has a ton of connections in the DC area, to his staff.
Hill was just the type of guy Gary Williams avoided in the past; in fact, Williams interviewed Hill for an assistant job four years ago but didn't hire him. So Hill went to Kansas State and brought Michael Beasley and Wally Judge along with him.
Add Bino Ranson, who is the Baltimore version of Dalonte Hill, and you can start to see the beginnings of a formidable recruiting staff. Mark Turgeon, who at heart is more of a coach than a recruiter (just like Gary), realizes his weaknesses and is addressing them.
That is something Gary never quite did.
There a two parts to this game: coaching and recruiting. Gary Williams was unmatched in his ability to do the former, but he never quite addressed the latter. Or, at least, he did not feel he had to.
After all, he won a National Championship without doing it. He resurrected a program mired in sanctions. He practically built the Comcast Center.
Speaking of the Comcast Center, I think it serves as a good metaphor to drive my point home. Gary was always a Cole Field House kind of guy. He was the sweaty gym with wooden seats. It was a great venue with an even greater atmosphere.
It hosted a number of legendary games, but it was time for an upgrade—even if Cole was still functioning.
Before the Comcast Center was up and running, Maryland had no problems with Cole or felt they needed to upgrade. Then they stepped into Comcast and they realized, okay, this is definitely better.
As much as I hate to say it, but the same can be said about Gary.