Is Texas A&M Basketball Coach Buzz Williams Effectively Off Hot Seat After Huge Win?
There has been something of a predictable cycle to the last few Texas A&M basketball seasons. The preseason hype grows over the summer, football takes away a lot of the attention during the fall, and the non-conference proves to be disappointing. Aggie fans then look at the record, and who the losses have been to, and get incensed, leading to a faction calling for head coach Buzz Williams to be fired.
From that point on, over each of the last few years, the team has had an inflection point where they all of a sudden begin to improve. Sometimes it’s slowly and steadily, sometimes it happens all at once.
Two years ago, it led to a huge late-season run that saw the Aggies get all the way to the SEC championship game, before being snubbed for the tournament. Last year, it led to a big time winning streak in conference, capped off with a home win over #2 Alabama. That momentum carried over into the conference tournament again, with the Aggies once more falling in the final game.
This year, the switch appears to have flipped once more. Things were a bit different this time—the Ags started off well, notching Q1 wins in Columbus and against Iowa State on a neutral floor. They took NET #1 Houston down to the wire (though they fell way behind in that one). The bottom seemed to fall out as conference play approached, though, with tough home losses to Memphis and LSU marring the Aggies’ record.
The calls of disgruntled fans for Williams’s job reached a fever pitch at this point. It felt as though the Aggies had already reached their peak and were coming apart at the seams.
Once again, though, it looks like Texas A&M basketball has come together. After some close wins over some good teams—and some not so good teams—the Aggies have recorded two straight blowout wins: one on the road vs a poor Missouri squad, and one at home over a top-10 Tennessee team.
This latest and consummately impressive victory has, for the most part, quieted the critics—at least for the moment. The Ags have two tough road games ahead versus Alabama and Tennessee, both in the NET top 10. Noncompetitive showings here could restart some of the grumbling.
It really does seem as though the Aggies have turned a corner, though, so I expect them to put up a good performance in these games, with a solid chance to emerge victorious in one or both. The rest of the schedule sets up favorably for this Aggie hoops squad to carry some momentum into the tournament for the third straight year.
The proving ground, though, will be what happens in the Big Dance. The Aggies have only made it once in Williams’s tenure, and were summarily dismissed by an extremely hot-shooting Penn State squad. A simple appearance cannot suffice this time—not with the level of talent and experience on this roster. A win in the round of 64 is necessary; advancing to the second weekend would be a boon.
Of course, this all may be a bit moot right now, as the Aggies currently are without an athletic director. It would be a bit daring for a new AD’s first move to dismiss a coach who has just made the tournament. There may be a bit of a wait-and-see mentality at first when it comes to Buzz to buy him some time, even if the results aren’t quite what they should be at this point in his tenure.
Ultimately, though, it’s going to come down to his team’s performance in the tournament. They have the ability to make a run, with tough-nosed defense and outstanding offense from the guard position. If they can harness those things at the right time, like they did against Tennessee, this team is going to be a tough out in the Big Dance. If not, then Williams’s seat will be getting hotter and hotter.