Get Coppin State Eagles shirtty ImagesHe planned to travel to Las Vegas – neutral territory – for the Tar Heels game in the CBS Sports Classic that wound up being against Kentucky. He loves to “shoot craps” when he gets the opportunity. He doesn’t gamble on sports, but being around a table with several friends is one of his

Michigan vs. Ohio State Rivalry Shirts

Getty Images

The moment for Roy Williams to retire arrived at an inconvenient time for most of us who care about the sport of college basketball. He left his position as head men’s basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on April 1, 2021, when the world in which he had resided for nearly five decades was consumed by that year’s Final Four.

He could have waited a week and grabbed everyone’s attention. He could have received the celebration he merited from Boston to Los Angeles, from Seattle to Miami. That never was Roy’s style, though, nor his priority. He wanted to accomplish two things with the timing of his announcement: to help assure veteran assistant coach Hubert Davis was the person chosen to follow him and to provide his successor with the greatest oppo Alabama vs. Auburn Rivalry Gear rtunity to recruit and retain players for the 2021-22 season.

“The m ECU Pirates Jerseys ore I delayed it, it made all of those things more difficult,” Williams told The Sporting News. “I really wanted to wait and do it a little later myself, for me personally. But if Auburn Tigers Jerseys you’re talking about the next guy coming, it w Michigan vs. Ohio State Rivalry Gear asn’t going to be nearly as smooth if I waited longer.

“This is not just where I coached. This is my school, where I lived and where our children went. So that was the biggest concern: trying to figure out a time to do it that would be most beneficial for our program. That’s the only thing I’ve ever thought of, my whole life, is what was the best thing for our program.”

He still thinks of it that way – “our program” — but under no circumstance would he consider it “his program” any longer. He wants still to be around, but never to hover, to cast a shadow. The standard he Cal Bears shirt set at North Carolina with three NCAA championships and five total Final Fours in 18 seasons is imposing enough for Davis and his staff, and it’s on top of the 11 Final Fours and two NCAA titles won by the great Dean Smith and the undefeated 1957 championship authored by Frank McGuire.

SN ARCHIVES: Williams captures third national title at UNC

Williams wants not to be in the way, but he does not wish to be out of the room. He has attended every Carolina home game this season, along with his wife Wanda, because he cares passionately about the Heels and their progress and, hopefully, their eventual success.

Davis has not needed Williams as a resource to understand the roster; he helped build it and develop those players who were in place when he accepted the job. 

“I’m paranoid about that kind of thing, because I’ve seen so many situations where it’s uncomfortable because the old guy is still hanging around,” Williams said. “I go to every game, sit above the tunnel, sneak out when the team goes off the court. I’m in the parking lot and heading home, turn on the radio and I’m in the car moving before Hubert starts his postgame press conference. Get out of the way.”

One could see the difference between the current circumstances of Williams and his longtime rival Mike Krzyzewski within the past week, as Williams talked about the time he has been able to spend, at last, attending his grandkids’ Little League games and recitals for the dance academy run by his daughter, and Krzyzewski had to leave a game in the final weeks of his final season at Duke because of what he later allowed was “exhaustion.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged his first year in retirement, though not quite to the level as during the final year of his career. No coach had an easy time in the 2019-20 season. Even the NCAA champion Baylor Bears lost three weeks and possibly an undefeated season beca NCAA Big and Tall use of the disease. Roy, though, endured a season in which his roster was heavy on gifted big men and light on guards and shooters. The Heels managed 18 wins that were good enough to safely enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed, but they lasted only 40 minutes. The last image of his coaching work bore little resemblance to most of what went before.

Getty Images

When he began his head coaching career at Kansas in the fall of 1988, Williams took on the curse of following someone else’s NCAA championship season without the player – Danny Manning – who was the principal agent of that success as well as an NCAA postseason ban that developed on someone else’s watch. He also carried the blessing of working at one of the most esteemed programs in the NCAA, and the initial challenges soon were buried under an avalanche of beautiful offensive basketball and spectacular success.

Within Army Black Knights Jerseys two seasons, Kansas had earned a No. 2 NCAA Tournament seed. Within three, they were playing for the March Madness championship. His 1996-97 squad was No. 1 most of the year, lost just once entering the NCAAs and then had its collective heart broken by surging Arizona in the Sweet 16. His Jayhawks reached four Final Fours in all, including a second appearance in the title game, the second time falling by just three points in 2003 to Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse. 

MORE: SN's latest hoops Power Rankings

He famously said after that game, when a CBS interviewer pressed him on the head coaching vacancy at his alma mater, that he didn’t give a crap about North Carolina, and he didn’t say crap, one of the few times in his public life he abandoned euphemism.

He did, though. Maybe not in that moment, but Carolina had provided him everything wonderful in his life: his career, his wife, his children, many of his friends. He arrived in Chapel Hill without the privilege that accompanies athletic excellence; he battled his way onto the freshman team and later asked Smith for the opportunity to observe his practices and learn from the best. His intelligence and diligence led to him ultimately being offered the lowest spot on Smith’s staff in 1978, after he’d coached in high school following his 1972 graduation.

And that led him, ultimately, to a career that places him No. 5 among Division I coaches in victories, now behind only Bob Huggins, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim and the man he challenged head-to-head in that first title game, all the way back in 1991, and for nearly two decades at the heart of the fiercest rivalry in American sports.

When Williams retired, he was given an office that he describes, in the interest of accuracy not complaint, as a converted “storage room.” He does some fundraising work and mentors some of the athletic department’s younger coaches.

“I told them I was paid very well as head coach, but when I first came to the university, I was grossly underpaid,” Williams said. “People think I’m kidding, but I’m not: My first year here, I made $2,700. And that was for the year. That’s the reason I drove copies of the TV show for football and basketball, because in those days you had to physically carry the tapes from one city to the other. So I did that for five years and I sold calendars for eight years.

“When they suggested they wanted me to stay, I sai FSU vs. Miami Rivalry Jerseys d, ‘Alright, this is what I want to be paid: I want to be paid $2,700 a month.’ So I don’t think I’m hurting the bottom line very much. But it’s been good, and they’ve made me feel good.”
He was honored at Carolina’s home game against rival NC State, and the state honored him by naming a 4-mile stretch of I-40 near Chapel Hill “Roy Williams Highway.” It is adjacent to the segment known as Dean Smith Highway.

Williams will not be at Cameron Indoor Stadium this week for the final North Carolina-Duke game of Mike Krzyzewski’s career because he does not feel comfortable rooting against another coach in his own building. It is one way for Williams to show his rival the proper respect.

Getty Images

He planned to travel to Las Vegas – neutral territory – for the Tar Heels game in the CBS Sports Classic that wound up being against Kentucky. He loves to “shoot craps” when he gets the opportunity. He doesn’t gamble on sports, but being around a table with several friends is one of his favorite diversions. He had to pass, though, because that was just three weeks after a knee replacement surgery he told SN is healing well now – well enough his return to the golf course was imminent.

He was well enough to transfer his casino trip to southern Indiana, when the Heels visited Louisville. Roy has planned 11 trips this winter for Heels games, to visit coaches who played or worked with him, such as Cincinnati’s Wes Miller, or to see friends, but all but four of them had to be canceled because of weather or COVID scheduling issues. He did make it to Kansas for a game. There were only two buildings where he desired to coach that he never quite made it: New Mexico’ NCAA Crewneck Sweatshirts s “the Pit” and West Virginia. He made it up to see Bob Huggins after an initial problem with the weather. Maybe a trip to the Pit comes next year.

“It’s been good,” Roy said, “And it has to be good. Because I really miss the coaching a great deal.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.