Former Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams has a reputation of not liking the modern recruiting scene in college basketball. It was a common criticism thrown his way, especially during his final years when the Terps fell off a bit from their lofty success from earlier in the decade.
Naturally, Williams defending himself against those claims is just as common as the claims themselves. It should come as little surprise that Williams defended himself again even in retirement when asked about it in an interview with "The Sports Junkies" on 106.7 The Fan:
"I would just like to say this about the whole recruiting thing," Williams began. "During the time that I was at Maryland, we had the third-most pros of anyone in the ACC, and we were behind Carolina and Duke, who probably have as many pros as any school in the country. We had pretty good players at Maryland. We had to to do what we did. All those recruiting stories were fed by a few people. That's how it goes nowadays. I don't know how you stop a story once it starts."
All this is technically true, but it's also a bit misleading. Churning out professional players is as much a factor of player development than actual recruiting. Williams was always great at turning overlooked players into stars, but that's not the criticism. The criticism was that he wasn't vigilant enough chasing the top guys. As an example, here's what Williams said following that line.
"The toughest thing was always when you'd call a kid the first day of his senior year and he already narrowed his schools down to the five schools he wanted to visit. They basically say, 'Where have you been? Why haven't you already called?'"
Alas, it's all water under the bridge. Prior to that, Williams discussed the current team, which is off to a slow start under new coach Mark Turgeon. Williams said he believes Turgeon and any other coach needs a full year before being judged.
"That first year, you should never be judged on that first year. Nobody knows the actual situation," he said. "Coaches, whether they have a good first year or not, shouldn't be judged on that first year, especially nowadays."
Williams was then asked if the same applied to football coach Randy Edsall, and he sort of dodged the question before answering in the affirmative.
"I'm not saying anything about Edsall. I'm just saying in general, you have to give guys a chance," he said. "Tom Landry with the Dallas Cowboys, in his first year, he only won one game, for example. It just takes time. Each coach has his own way of running his program, and he should have a chance to do that."