Texas A&M basketball is getting a new coach, the second major hire in athletic director Scott Woodward’s short time in Aggieland.
I can hear the comments now. “Click bait.” “You’re jumping the gun.” “Can the guy coach a game first?” I get it. Given the history of Aggie athletics, which, whether you care to admit it or not, has crushed the hearts of fans countless times in our history, it would be easy to exercise caution and not get excited about the future of Texas A&M basketball and new head coach Buzz Williams.
I’m kicking battered Aggie syndrome to the curb. The time for optimism is now. Scott Woodward just made the second of two athletic-program-altering hires.
Woodward’s first move was stealing Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State, where he won a national championship. It’s impossible to understate how impressive a move it was not only to lure Fisher away from the Seminoles, but also to fend off other historically great programs (read: LSU) who were likely in contact with Fisher.
A coach of his caliber comes with elevated expectations, yes, but Fisher is more than capable of handling them. The first season was one of the best in the last decade, and certainly the best since 2012. They finished 9-4, hung with the national champs, beat LSU, and finished second in the SEC West for the first time ever.
That set the bar. Fisher is prepping the 2019 team, which includes a Top 5 recruiting class, to leap over the bar.
The second move is Williams, who made just about as much sense as anyone to take over after Billy Kennedy was let go. Forget about Williams being from Texas or having spent time as an assistant coach under Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M. What makes this hire so significant is again the situation he left behind.
Williams left Virginia Tech. They play basketball in the ACC, mostly recognized as the best basketball conference in the country. He made the tournament three years in a row and could have built something special in Blacksburg and competed in the best conference for years.
Also, A&M basketball is inarguably in the most successful stretch in school history, but during the early years they were used as a stepping stone for coaches that came from mid-majors to leave for historically better programs.
Billy Gillispie made the tournament twice and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the second year before being hired by Kentucky. Mark Turgeon made the tournament four years in a row after that — advancing to the second round three years in a row — before being hired by Maryland. Billy Kennedy was another hire from a mid-major and who knows if he would have taken a “better” job if he had been more successful early on.
Woodward didn’t settle for the next young mid-major hire. He went after a successful head coach who had already proven himself in the best conference. He is telling the world the Aggies are committed to excellence in the long term.
Williams made the tournament in eight of 10 seasons combined with Marquette and Virginia Tech. He advanced to the Elite 8 with Marquette in 2013 and the Sweet 16 with the Hokies this year. They were an unlucky bounce away from going to overtime with Duke.
He is here for the long haul.
Scott Wooward likely made two of the most important hires in school history. His legacy is cemented. These could be the glory days we’re living in. Enjoy em, Ags.