Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The KU Fan Base and Roy Williams

Just got an email from a reader who said North Carolina coach Roy Williams was on with Jim Rome today. (we used to be big Rome fans, but the schtick is an old bit and the "clones" are weak. War Terrance in Sierra Madre). Rome is a big Roy Williams guy, and I can understand why. Per our spies, the Kansas fan "clones" are emailing the show ripping Roy, still calling him a traitor, etc. Memo to those people: GET OVER IT ALREADY.

I'll give you some background. There are two factions of the KU fan base. Anti-Roy and the Pro-Roy. There is no either in between. You either appreciated what he did for the program and understand why he left, of you think he is a liar and a phony, who bolted when he knew his favorite players Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison graduated. Yes, Roy uttered the famous "I don't give a shit about North Carolina" after the national title loss to Syracuse in 2003:

But you know what, that is how he felt at the time. I am one of the pro-Roy faction. The guy did nothing but win for 14 years in Lawrence. He loved the University and the city. Could he have won a few titles for us, sure, but he didn't. I was always a Roy defender during those years. I used to say "Not Roy's fault they shot 4-25 from the three point land" or "how is it Roy's fault they shot 12-30 from the line in the title game?" That's not good enough for some who think he betrayed us all by going back to North Carolina after denying that he would do so.

If I were in his shoes, I probably would have left too. Given the second chance to revive his alma mater after passing the first time was something he felt he wanted to do and had to do. He did it, got his title, and can live the rest of his life in peace knowing he runs one of the Mt. Rushmore of college programs after having great success at another.

I had one encounter with the man. I was flying to Las Vegas through Kansas City on Southwest. On the stopover, there were nothing but middle seats open and I had the aisle. As I looked up to see who would be the lucky person sitting next to me, on walked ole' Roy. On a Southwest flight. I was stunned. As he approached me in about the 5th row, I said "Coach, you can have the aisle.' he smiled and said "thank you sir!" For the next three hours, I got to sit next to a man I greatly admired and had followed for years.

I tried not to bother him too much, but when was I ever going to have the chance again to be able to ask him questions. He couldn't have been nicer. We talked KU hoops and the restaurants in Lawrence and KC. At baggage claim, I took a photo with him. I sent it to him with a thank you letter after I got the pictures developed. Six days later, the 8 x 10 photo came back, personally autographed to me. Six days. That's a good man right there.

The anti-Roy faction of KU fans need to move on already. We've got a great recruiter and pretty good coach in Bill Self, Roy gave us 14 great years and put the program on top and gave us all a ton of wonderful memories. We should all be happy for him. Remember this - had AD Bob Frederick never left KU, Roy would most likely still be there. They were close friends. Former AD Al Bohl and Roy hated each other. He was the one who ran Roy out of town. If you have any hatred, it should be targeted at Bohl. Not Roy.


Dils said...

Good post. Roy is a class act and a great coach, and this comes from a Duke fan.

Jeremy Clarkson said...

Couldn't say it all any better. I think I was mad at Roy for leaving for a total of 2 days. Then I just realized Kansas basketball is bigger than Roy Williams.

I'm happy with the job he did and he owed us nothing in return. It sucked to see him leave, but given his circumstances, I don't blame him. Funny, no anti-Roy KU fan will rationally understand that Roy's family played a big part, considering he's had 2 close relatives pass away since he went back to UNC.

Good post.