Early this year, back when D1scourse was still at its old new locale, the question was posed: How good was Maryland’s football job?
The answer was that while it was a good, solid, middle-of-the-road gig, history demonstrated it would take a remarkable set of occurrences to vault the Terrapins into the national elite for a long time.
So now that Gary Williams has retired as Maryland’s basketball coach after 22 years, let’s ask the same question for a different sport.
Namely, how good is Maryland’s basketball gig?
The answer: Good luck naming 15 jobs undeniably better.
Unlike the football dissertation linked above, this won’t be accompanied by a ginormous chart. That’s the difference between having 10 days rather than 10 hours (less, actually) to process everything.
But if you strip away the current coaches and players and overall circumstances of programs and leave the facilities, recruiting base, tradition, overall support and generally presumed capabilities of schools, it doesn’t take long before getting into the list of programs with as much going for it as Maryland.
Let’s get the bluebloods out of the way. North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and Duke (yes, even minus Coach K, the Blue Devils have a solid history before he arrived and a massive commitment to the sport) would all go on the list ahead of Maryland.
After that? In no particular order, there’s …
* Ohio State, which has pretty much everything in place for a coach to thrive in a major way.
* Florida, owner of two national titles since 2006 and oodles of resources.
* Texas, the same as Florida minus the national titles.
* Indiana, possessor of incredible tradition in a hoops-mad state. Regardless of recent results (one Final Four in the last 19 seasons), it would be in good shape if everyone was forced to start over.
* Michigan State and its seemingly ominipresent threat to make a Final Four run.
* Louisville, which has its own tradition and the ability to find talent in all sorts of places.
* Arizona, where Lute Olson built a mini-empire in the desert.
* Oregon, if for no other reason than because no one can command as many resources as Team Nike.
* Syracuse, though the question exists of how far the Orange will fall (if at all) when Jim Boeheim calls it quits.
* Connecticut, which has a similar issue with Jim Calhoun as Syracuse has with Boeheim.
* Washington, nestled in the productive (and somewhat underappreciated) basketball town of Seattle.
* Illinois, which could have its way in luring Chicago recruits under the right conditions.
And that might be it among teams that might be able to make a claim. Maybe Pittsburgh or Purdue or Wisconsin or even Memphis or Xavier belongs on the list. Maybe. But probably not.
Excluding the schools in the last paragraph and that’s 17 programs, max. The Maryland job is probably better than a few of them, and similar to a lot of them.
Ultimately, the Terps have a fairly recent recent national title, an impressive on-campus facility, a place in one of the top two leagues in the land (even if last season wasn’t overwhelming in ACC country) and access not just quality local talent, but also the chance to poach from Philadelphia and New York and elsewhere as well.
Maryland could only get one football coach to say College Park was home to his dream job back around the first of the year. It could have a line of coaches from Comcast Center to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor who could make the same claim about the Terps’ basketball gig. And they’d have very, very good reason to feel that way.
Maryland isn’t the No. 1 basketball job in the country, but don’t sell it short. All things being equal, very, very few other programs can claim to clearly be better-situated than the Terps.
—- Patrick Stevens