ESPN analyst Jay Williams made some comments about the Michigan basketball program that weren’t exactly well received by the masses.
After the news broke that Wolverines coach John Beilein accepted a head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Williams said this:
Juwan Howard needs to be the next head coach at @umichbball ... bring back the culture of that program. @espn— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) May 13, 2019
Juwan Howard was a great player for Michigan and part of the Fab-Five, had a long NBA career, and is now an assistant coach for the Miami Heat.
The suggestion that Howard should be Michigan’s next head coach is fine and all, but bring back the culture of the program? Really? What does that even mean?
Those are a few of the questions that were posed to Williams after his tweet, one that he had to explain shortly after:
Bringing back the culture was referring to Juwan and the style in which those teams played. It was not a slight at Coach B at all. https://t.co/pcDRrjeKH0— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) May 13, 2019
I love how people interpret “culture” when I say it... “culture” is a look, a feel, the feeling those Fab 5 teams had... @JalenRose knows what I am talking about. Yes, they have been winning but you can’t tell me it’s been the same FEEL.— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) May 13, 2019
“Yes, they have been winning but you can’t tell me it’s been the same FEEL,” Williams said.
Feel doesn’t matter nearly as much as winning. Sports are result driven, not feel driven.
Williams is right about what culture is. Culture is a look, it is indeed a feel. When it comes to college basketball it’s more important than ever to have a program that does things the right way when many other teams are being hit with major violations. That’s culture. Making student athletes better men on and off the court is important. Beilein did that.
What Williams is proposing is Michigan recruit players with major personalities that can become marquee names on television nationally, the type of players that will be appearing on Sports Illustrated covers aplenty. Williams is talking about flash. And while that is culture in its own way, Michigan has been just fine doing things John Beilein’s way.
Beilein set a template and foundation for what traits are desired in Michigan’s next head coach, there’s no need or want to ‘bring back’ anything from over a quarter century ago. Michigan has turned into a winner and a top destination in college basketball, and the program would quite like to continue on the path Beilein led them on.
Williams wants Michigan to go back to an era where members of the Michigan team and Fab-Five (Chris Webber) accepted money from Ed Martin, which led to most of Michigan’s wins being vacated during that timespan, including both of their Final Four appearances.
It would be a lot wiser if Michigan didn’t go down the road of players taking money under the table ever again. No matter what Williams intent was with his comments, the scandal associated with the Fab-Five era and the polar opposite squeaky clean culture of Beilein’s Michigan teams have led to college basketball fans a bit puzzled by the string of tweets.
Michigan fans want a culture that leads to banners being put up and kept up, not a culture that leads to banners being taken down because players took money. That’s the feel the Michigan program wants.