COLLEGE PARK, MD - MAY 6: Athletic Director of University of Maryland Kevin Anderson speaks during announcement of the retirement of basketball coach Gary WIlliams on May 6, 2011 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
We are standing in a fog of misinformation. I think.
The past 24 hours have been some of the most misleading, hectic, frustrating, and unbearable for Maryland fans in recent memory. The amount of sources wrong, sources kind of right, coaches interested, and coaches uninterested was just ridiculous. It was enough to make anyone swear off of Twitter and coaching rumors for good.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if most people just said, "Whatever, I'll come back when a hire is officially made." If you're still here, though, there's still stuff to talk about about that isn't quite as source-y. Like, for instance, what happened and what is happening now. Below you'll find my attempt at answering that in a balanced
Addressing the sources problem. A lot of people were wrong. Not just ESPN980, which was always questionable, but people who are almost always right were still wrong.
Jeff Goodman, one of the most respected journalists in the basketball world, was wrong. So was Chick Hernandez. And Dave Telep. And a bunch of other people that are normally right.
So how do we treat this situation? Do we stop believing them? That seems tough, because then we're literally operating in the blind until an announcement is made. If that's what you prefer, I advise you to go live in a cave for the rest of today, and possibly much of tomorrow.
But at the same time, we were just unequivocally shown the variability in reporting like this. Nothing is fact until the press conference is done, and sometimes not even then. There are certain things from certain people that you should never take as fact. This doesn't mean you should completely discount them, either. A middle ground exists, where you can consider information without endorsing it as 100% fact.
I'm not going to stop making posts about reports posted by reputable people. Those incapable of separating anonymous sources from straight-up facts...I'm sorry, but that's just something you're going to have to figure out eventually.
This also creates a minor issue when it comes to figuring out exactly what happened and what comes next. Do we trust the people who were wrong that there were elements of truth in what they said? Or do we just ignore them? Do we trust what they say now? It's a tough terrain to traverse, made even more difficult by the fact that it was tricky to start with.
There are two main theories about what went down last night. Who knows which is right. They're both worth exploring, though. The first:
Theory #1: Miller was solely interested in using Maryland to get concessions from Arizona's AD. This is the most convenient theory, and one that a lot of people will use to make it make sense. Miller had a bad relationship with Arizona's AD, so he talked to Maryland, took the offer back, and Arizona's AD caved in by giving him some more money and letting him use the chartered flights.
This would make the sudden "change of heart" make sense. He was telling people he wanted the job in order to get leverage, and it worked. If this is the case, it's difficult to blame Kevin Anderson...too much. He was being told that Miller was seriously interested (likely by Miller and others), so he went all-in with the intent of bagging him and returning home a hero.
He can still be blamed for going all-in on anything but a sure bet, of course, and he can also be blamed for not hearing the right info. (For the record, I'd also say that his willingness to fly out there (instead of forcing Miller to come to Maryland, which if he refused to do would be a good indicator of his intents) but I can understand why he did that.) A high-level AD with connections in basketball likely would've handled this better; he'd have a better understanding of the quality of the job and might've been able to hear some cautionary tales about Miller's interest. That's not Anderson.
If this is the case, Anderson is naive, but not necessarily incompetent.
My problem with it: if it was this, it was one of the most intricate leverage-moves I've ever seen. With the exception of the notably conservative Andy Katz, everyone and their mother was reporting that Miller wanted the Maryland job badly and was almost certainly going to accept if it was offered. Again, I'm not talking about random people or 980; legitimate journalists were saying that Miller really wanted this.
If this was solely for leverage, there was a lot of smoke about legitimate interest. In fact, there was so much on both sides that he probably would've had to have lied to those close to him about it; they then go tell the sources bad info and Miller gets even more leverage. So many people with so much conflicting information points to a lot of lying from the source. Would he do that? If he did, it has to be one of the lowest moves I can imagine, at least from the Maryland perspective.
It's also something that some people still aren't buying. Neither are a lot of Zona fans. The other option would be...
Theory #2: Miller had legitimate interest and then, for some reason, it fell through. Reporters, who generally trust their sources, are taking this stance for the most part. It's less convenient, but might be more realistic.
In this theory, Miller was interested in the job. Anderson and Plank and/or Bisciotti went to Vegas to talk with him, but for some reason he left the meeting without signing anything. Arizona's AD called him, asked what the offer was, then matched it or gave him an even better offer, probably with the promise that he can get to use his chartered flights. Given the choice between staying in a good situation or moving to a bad one with great potential, all else being equal, he made the same decision many others would do and stayed.
This assumes that Miller assumed Arizona was incapable or unwilling to match Maryland's offer, at least based on what reporters were saying. I find that strange. That might lead to a hybrid of the two - he was legitimately interested, but he was still using Maryland for leverage if he could.
Anyway, if this is the case, it reflects much more poorly on Anderson than the other one does. At least one semi-legit source is saying that he's heard that Anderson botched it in Vegas. If Miller had legit interest but ended up at Arizona, then maybe he did botch it. Maybe he didn't offer enough money. Maybe he didn't pressure Miller enough and let him leave too easily.
No matter which, it's embarrassing, and Anderson messed up a little for that reason alone. It's tough to be really upset for him to go after Miller; but you can be upset for him messing it up if he had legitimate interest.
The optimist's view of Mike Brey. You've probably heard by now that Brey isn't going to Maryland. The initial assumption was that he turned the Terps down.
But what if Anderson is more like the fanbase and is a member of the ABB (Anyone But Brey) crew? In that case, maybe he told Brey no. Then, in order to save face, Brey starts texting media members that he's "staying" at Notre Dame.
It's a risk, considering Maryland's other options are thin right now. But it's conceivable, and it would give Brey way more leverage with the ND administration, which doesn't care much about basketball.
So maybe that one wasn't a complete loss.
Or maybe we really did want him and he said no. What I'm trying to say here is that we don't know for sure either way, and given what just occurred I'd be wary of drawing conclusions.
Just look at the aftermath to see the damage it caused. For the people who are saying it didn't matter and was just a bad PR hit...you're probably wrong
The search is becoming a joke. It's hurting fan support. It's hurting perception of the program of the job, and each coach that turns the job down makes it even more difficult for the next coach to accept. These are real consequences, and they hurt.
Attendance last year was average at best. With a coach that no one wants and a team that looks NIT bound, can Maryland even come close to filling the stands? Miller would've guaranteed solid turnouts next year. Instead, there will be likely be apathy in the immediate.
And Kevin Anderson keeps looking worse and worse. Kevin Anderson has made two hires in the two big sports. Each time, a big name appeared as a legitimate candidate and quickly became the fan favorite. Each time, he didn't reel that target in, causing (presumably for the basketball search) a negative backlash for whoever was hired. It creates a ton of pressure for the ultimate hire and keeps the fans from getting excited about the hire.
I know some people say that the hires aren't comparable. In one sense, they're not. In the football hire, Maryland turned down Leach. In the basketball one, Miller turned down Maryland. But in both, the guy everyone wanted - media members and fans both - wasn't hired.
This search, though, is looking much worse. It'd be okay if he ended up hiring the Plan B. Or Plan C. Or Plan D. But it's becoming clear that more and more coaches aren't options, and I don't know who's left at this point. The search has become embarrassing. It was not a single mistake; this is a comedy of errors, several of them hitting one after another. It wasn't one-off. Even if he makes a great hire, this process is making me lose the faith I still had in Anderson.
Maybe the hires themselves will turn out to be fantastic. I like what Edsall's doing so far and maybe Maryland will get the next Brad Stevens. Who knows? But in terms of PR and media coverage, swinging and missing hurts (see above). And Anderson certainly doesn't have that aspect of coaching searches on lockdown.
Gary's timing. It's worth mentioning here. It's impossible for Gary to time something like this perfectly, but it was a horrible time for him to retire. If this happens two months ago, guys like Cuonzo Martin, Buzz Williams, Anthony Grant, and Lon Kruger might've been in play - or at least more in play than they are now. Who knows, maybe we could've gotten Painter'd by the original.
What's next? No one knows, I think. Mark Turgeon's name has come up a few times. At this point, I'm guessing they'll change the direction of the search and blow it up, looking at different candidates never before considered. It's the only thing that makes any measure of sense anymore, considering the big names have all but dried up.
I'll be around if there's any more news today, but for now: lunch.