In a what have you done for me lately world, there are three ACC basketball coaches who drew the ire of a vocal segment of their fanbases in recent weeks. Those coaches are UNC’s Roy Williams, FSU’s Leonard Hamilton, and Clemson’s Brad Brownell. Why some fans of these schools have called for the heads of these coaches is odd at best and just ridiculous at worst. You think I’m kidding? Look up the hashtags #fireroy, #fireham, and #firebrownell. Let’s talk about at each coach individually.
Roy Williams, UNC – On February 17, 2016 North Carolina lost 74-73 to arch rival Duke at home. It was a game the Tar Heels controlled most of the way, only to forget that UNC Brice Johnson was unstoppable and ended up losing a heartbreaker. The calls for Roy’s job began in earnest. I’ll admit it was bad game for Roy, but seriously?
Williams has won 2 National Championships at UNC in 2005 and 2009. That’s as many as Dean Smith won in his entire career at North Carolina. Yes UNC hasn’t been to the Final 4 since 2009, but it’s hardly like the Tar Heels have fallen on hard times. This year will be the Heels 6th straight NCAA tournament, while making at least the Sweet 16 3 of the last 5 years.
The fewest wins he’s had since 2010 is 24. Even at an elite basketball school like UNC, that’s not bad. He has a top 10 team this year. I’ll agree the recruiting isn’t quite at usual UNC levels, but there is still a lot of talent at UNC. Williams may not be the best X’s and O’s coach in the business, but calling for him to be fired. Come on…
Leonard Hamilton, FSU – Florida State has ended any talk of firing Leonard Hamilton by giving him a 2 year extension today. Thankfully FSU had more sense that some Nole fans. Hamilton has been at Florida State since the 2002-2003 season. In that time, he’s been to 4 NCAA Tournaments, and 6 NITs. He won the ACC tournament in 2012. I remember that ACC tournament run in 2012. I was there in Atlanta that year. FSU had 2000 or maybe 3000 fans there. Just 5 hours from Tallahassee, and North Carolina fans outnumbered FSU fans 5-1 one. It was an embarrassing display of support for one of the best Seminole basketball teams ever.
The arena the Seminole basketball team played in was far below the standards held by most teams in the ACC. Renovations in 2014, brought it up to speed, but during most of Hamilton’s tenure at FSU, the Noles played in sub-par facilities. At a school where football dominates, Hamilton made FSU basketball relevant. This will be FSU’s 4th straight year of missing the NCAA tournament, so some griping is legitimate. Firing though? No, Hamilton has earned a couple of more years.
Brad Brownell, Clemson – Now I wasn’t a huge fan of Brownell’s big extension from a couple of years back, but I didn’t think he should be fired and I don’t think that now. Only 1 time has Brownell ever won fewer than 8 games in the ACC. He will finish .500 or better in the ACC for the 4th time in 6 years. For a school that severly lacks basketball tradition that is pretty decent.
This year Clemson had to play their home games in Greenville, SC some 30 miles away from Clemson while new basketball facilities were built. That’s never an easy task, and the Tigers beat Louisville, Duke, and Miami there. They currently sit 9-7 in the ACC ensuring no worse than .500 record in the ACC. After Tuesday’s loss to Georgia Tech it’s a stretch that the Tigers make the NCAA’s, but after a shaky non-conference schedule Clemson was solid in ACC play.
Brownell deserves a chance to coach Clemson in their new arena, and fans that said he should be fired haven’t followed this season. Clemson has always been competitive under Brownell. Let’s see what he can with improved facilities.
Clemson and Florida State are dangerous locations to replace a head coach. A mistake could result in a team that finishes at the bottom of the ACC.