Coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams and both gave cryptic and vague answers when asked about the current shoe company “pay for play” trial this past week. The media as well as a good amount of college basketball fans wanted to get some sort of angry, fire and brimstone response to satiate a need for a headline…NEWSFLASH…they didn’t get it. At least for me, perhaps the words could have been chosen better but the sentiment was the same for both coaches and it was the correct one. The game is bigger than this trial, the game will adjust and go on. Those that know their basketball history can attest that this particular scandal, albeit great fodder for headlines and a chance for fans to gripe about opposing teams and coaches as being cheaters, will not change the game. Those that want to cheat will find better ways to do it, those that don’t – well nothing changes for them. The product on the floor is still good and still what people want to see and hear about. Sure during the offseason it’s good to get a distraction or two but once the ball is tipped there will be little to no discussion about how this trial ends up or what happens to the schools that may have or may not have been a part of it.
If I’m a head coach my more immediate concerns is the well-being of my team and the preparation for the season. It’s the time of year where distractions are the enemy and my focus, if I’m a coach, needs to be where it is – my guys. What I find a bit disingenuous about the media is that while they clamor to get soundbites from two coaches whose names, up to this point, have not been mentioned in this scandal – they aren’t going at the names who have been mentioned. First and foremost these coaches are stewards of their respective ships who honestly don’t owe a soundbite to anyone. Some will say they have a duty to publicly speak on the matter – to that I say, says who? I too was cynical at first but after really thinking on the issue and looking at the sport as a whole – it’s not the biggest thing there is, it’s a black eye certainly but black eyes eventually go away, the colors start to shift until they return to normal. If you want answers go after those that have are the root cause of the issue. If Williams or Krzyzewski end up with their names being pulled into the fray then by all means, direct your questions to them but until then point your microphones at the right people.
When Roy Williams says, “That’s a sad state of affairs for people to think that’s all that goes on in college athletics, because that’s not all that goes on in college athletics,” or when Coach K says “It’s a blip,” or that “It’s not what’s happening.” In my opinion what they are trying to say is that there is a lot more to college athletics than just the current scandal. There will always be cheating on every level, in every sport. The Russian Olympic team doped for decades, the games still go on. Sure the headlines were dominated by it but the sport will never be defined by it. That’s just the way it’s going to be. People, especially reporters will always seek the hyperbole to justify the headline. Are any of you going to stop watching or following the sport because of this trial? Clearly not. If Williams or Krzyzewski end up with their names being pulled into the fray then by all means, direct your questions to them but until then point your microphones at the right people. To each and every college athlete preparing for the season, in the weight room, on the court or every coach that is working towards getting their team ready – it’s really “not what’s happening”.