AJ's Weekly Musings

When Marvin Williams announced he will play college basketball at North Carolina last week, it seemed like business as usual for the Tar Heels.

After all, for decades Carolina generally landed the players it wanted: big men, slashers, ballhandling wizards, and from any corner of the nation. But in recent years the Heels haven't been so successful.

Bill Guthridge did reach a pair of Final Fours in his three seasons but didn't leave Matt Doherty the kind of talent he inherited from Dean Smith. Although forced out a couple of months ago, Doherty did leave Roy Williams plenty of capable players, but not much in the front court outside of Sean May.

Doherty was criticized, perhaps a bit unfairly, for unsuccessfully nabbing a big man. Prior to his ouster, he was hot on the trail of Darryl Watkins, and some close to the situation believed UNC had an excellent chance of landing the New Jersey product.

Doherty also snagged 6-foot-9 Jawad Williams and the 6-foot-8 May. Williams, however, is more comfortable away from the basket, and May is a true interior player but is a bit short to be a team's lone legitimate big man.

Roy Williams missed out on Linas Kleiza in May, but considering he began recruiting the Lithuanian late in the process, finishing second was a positive sign.

So, when Marvin Williams made his intentions public, it solidified his future coach as the recruiter UNC needs to re-establish itself as one of the premiere programs in the nation.

Coach Williams clearly demonstrated amazing recruiting ability at Kansas, but considering how much more appealing Carolina will be to future recruits, it's downright scary to think of what he can build in Chapel Hill. That he hasn't yet won a national championship might not be such a bad thing. One recent e-mailer opined that a positive that Williams has come up short thus far is that he "has saved all of his national titles for the Tar Heels."

While I am certain he would reverse such lost opportunities in 1991 and this past April, it does raise interesting speculation.

Will Williams win a title at UNC? The odds are most definitely he will cut the nets down at least once. He's too good of a coach and recruiter to not win one. Hey, if Rollie Massimino, Jim Valvano, and Jud Heathcoat can win titles, Roy Williams most certainly can.

So, with the recent addition of a highly regarded front court player Marvin Williams and likely commitments of more big-time players forthcoming, just how successful will Williams be at Carolina? Say he coaches for 15 more years, are eight Final Fours and four national titles out of the realm of possibility? What about 10 Final Fours and five crowns? Or are six Final Fours and two titles more like it?

Not to put pressure on Coach Roy, but I think he will at the very least match his numbers in 15 years at Kansas: 418 wins and four Final Fours. But to be quite honest, I am thinking a minimum of six Final Fours and two national championships.

This week's question is, will Williams dominate in recruiting and will it lead to unmatched success at Carolina? Just how many Final Fours and national titles will he accumulate?

I will choose three responses to post in next week's Musings. Send responses to: totlsprts@aol.com.

Reader Response

Last week's question was do you believe TV markets matter more than football culture and all that makes the SEC so special? Did the ACC really strike out by not landing those northeastern TV markets despite all that has been bolstered in its own region, which is in direct competition with the SEC? And, how important is the future culture of ACC football to you?

Robert Schneider, Class of '96

I completely agree that the football culture and the conference rivalries that are developed matter more than large markets. There are two reasons why adding BC and Syracuse would not bring in a lot of viewers from Boston and New York.

First, the northeast would only tune in if BC and Syracuse are playing each other or if either team is playing Miami. In a league with 12 or 13 teams, these teams may not even play each other every year. Their will be no interest in the UNC - NC State game. There will be little interest in the BC - Wake Forest game.

Second, college sports take a back seat to pro teams in New York and Boston. If a New Yorker has to choose one football game to watch on the weekend, Syracuse will take a backseat to The Giants, The Jets, or The Bills. In SEC country, there is no way that anybody in Tennessee is going to miss the UT - Florida game to watch The Titans. Now that Miami and Virginia Tech are ACC teams, the Miami - FSU game and the UVA - Va. Tech games will be the most important sporting event of the year in Florida and Virginia. 90% of the state of Virginia is a more lucrative market than 10% of Boston.

Jason H. Key, '97, Atlanta

The key to major markets is not the colleges located there, but rather the alumni who have moved there. The key differentiator is whether these alumni are college fans or pro fans. "College Fan" alumni are people who grew up in areas without professional sports. For theses fans, college athletics was the biggest thing around (and usually continues to be).

"Pro Fan" alumni are people who grew up in these major markets. Fore these fans, college athletics was a temporary passion that they experienced during their four years in school, after which they reverted back to supporting their pro team of choice. Boston and NY are not bastions of college athletics because the people who grew up in these areas are not college sports fans.

Non-Alumni who live in NYC and Boston are not fans of Syracuse and BC. The only fans of these schools are the alumni in those areas. Conversely, there are folks all over NC who never attended UNC but who are huge fans. The same is true for all major universities in states where there is not a major professional sports presence.

Julian B. Rosemond, Jr. LCDR, USN (Retired), UNC Class of '75

First let me say as an alumnus of our great institution that I agree with Chancellor Moeser on the keeping the footprint at a reasonable size. I never agreed with the Northeast argument. I was Commanding Officer of a Naval Reserve center in NY from 86-90 and it was rare to get a college game that wasn't overwhelmed by the pro sports. Same thing while in Rhode Island in a Navy school: Red Sox or Celtics. Thank God the '82 championship game was on national TV!

We need the southern flavor because the SEC has been the standard bearer for major college football in the South. That will change with our current expansion placing us at least tied for first now. Optimally, we pick up Florida from the SEC (I don't want USC back, they bring nothing to the mix) and that tips the edge in the favor to the ACC. Rivalries make television execs pay the bucks cause they know people will watch. You want to corner the college football TV market? Get the Gators; they are decent in basketball also which would help deflect the weakness of Va Tech in that sport. Miami has been good in basketball and will be again with their current coach.

Bottom line: football TV contracts will be decided by the rivalries the conferences can put on the field. People know a turkey and won't watch it. The ACC has become a soaring eagle conference, and not just the ones who are expected to be the best (Miami, FSU, Va Tech) but some others (NC State, Maryland, UVa) and some surprises this year (UNC, Ga Tech).


Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: totlsprts@aol.com.


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