jump to example.com

What Will Tony Do? UVA fans wailing, gnashing teeth over Bennett

tony bennett uvaUVA basketball fans get worked up this time each year over the fate of our beloved coach Tony Bennett.

What Will Tony Do? is enough to turn even the sunniest-dispositioned Wahoo into deep thought.

I don’t pretend to have any more insight on the answer to this question than anybody else does. I have obvious rooting interest, as a UVA alum who has bled orange and blue since second grade, when I first heard the words “Ralph Sampson” in a sentence, and thinks Bennett is about as good a representative of my alma mater as there can be, running his program the way he does, with utmost integrity from himself, his assistants and his student-athletes.

Of course I, like many of you reading this, think Tony can do no better than spend the next 25 years at the University of Virginia, with the best arena in the nation to recruit to, with the best fan base in the country backing you, with a strong academic foundation providing a balanced sense of expectations, and with money flowing like manna from heaven both in athletics and academics.

How much better can life be than Charlottesville, where you’re the biggest game in town, adored by literally everyone?

We all want Tony to retire from UVA in 25 years as college basketball’s all-time winningest coach, winning more ACC championships, a national championship or two, or a few.

OK, deep breath.

You know Coach K. Remember when he almost left Duke for the Boston Celtics? And then a decade later almost left for the Los Angeles Lakers?

How different is history now if he’d made either move? Rhetorical question. He didn’t leave.

How about Frank Beamer leaving Virginia Tech for UNC? He actually accepted the job, verbally, in November 2000, and changed his mind before signing on the bottom line.

Frank Beamer, people. Frank Beamer.

Didn’t leave, but like Coach K, he was thisclose.

Roy Williams and UNC. Remember that Dean Smith wanted Roy to follow him (and Bill Guthridge), but in 2000, Ol’ Roy, then still Young Roy, turned him down, and stayed at Kansas, which he had brought back from the brink of scandal and probation to be a national power.

When Matt Doherty, ahem, didn’t work out, Williams tearfully left Kansas, which he had led to four Final Fours, for the Tar Heels in 2003.

I bring up Roy because you have to think about how Kansas has done since Roy left for North Carolina.

Far from becoming irrelevant, Bill Self, taking over for Williams, has in 14 years led the Jayhawks to one second-place Big 12 finish, 13 (!) Big 12 regular-season championships, one national title, four Elite Eights and two more Sweet Sixteens.

Which is to say, Kansas has done OK since losing the guy that had built it back up after a run of mediocrity.

Bennett took over at Virginia after a long run of mediocrity that dates back to 1990, when Terry Holland, then just 48, seemingly coach for life after leading the Cavs to two Final Fours, two Elite Eights and a Sweet Sixteen in the 1980s, abruptly retired after a health scare in 1990.

Holland was succeeded by assistant Jeff Jones, whose early success ended with a thud of two losing seasons in a three-year period at the end of his tenure, starting Virginia basketball on a lengthy period of irrelevancy that saw UVA make just two NCAA Tournaments between 1997 and 2012.

It’s easier said than done, sure, but losing a great coach doesn’t have to be a death sentence for a program.

And, yes, it’s easier if you don’t lose the great coach. See K, Coach, and Beamer, Frank.

But it’s not the end of the world if Tony Bennett ends up leaving, is all I’m saying.

And let’s face it. We want him to continue having the kind of success that keeps his name popping up every time a high-profile job comes open.

Rival programs and NBA teams don’t poach coaches who don’t have a track record of winning, right?

So I’d say, don’t fret, Tony will do what Tony will do, and I hope it continues to be in Charlottesville, but if he moves on, I’ll still root for him, because I will want him to have success at that next stop, and at the same time, I’ll hope we can replace him with someone even better, our Bill Self, as it were.

Having said that, OK, please, God, don’t let that happen. I’m just trying to make people feel better writing this. I hope against hope that it never comes to pass.

Deep breath.

Column by Chris Graham

  • Dialogos68

    Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoosiers!!!


College football TV schedule: Week 4

The following schedule is for college football games from Division I (FBS and FCS) for the dates of Sept. 21-24, 2017. Courtesy the National Football Foundation.

Skyline Drug Task Force touts new online tool to combat illicit drug sales

Law enforcement officials from across the region gathered in Waynesboro Thursday to talk up ReportADrugDealer.com, an online reporting tool being used to combat illicit drug sales.

Cliff Hyra: Libertarian reaches out to undecideds in Virginia governor race

Cliff Hyra, the Libertarian candidate for governor, was technically at Tuesday’s Virginia gubernatorial candidate debate.

Another new poll gives Northam big lead in Virginia governor race

One Virginia governor race poll released yesterday had Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie tied.

Poll: Trump unpopular in Virginia

President Donald Trump is well under water among Virginia voters, according to new poll results released by the University of Mary Washington.

The Petty Hearts bring Tom Petty tribute to Wayne Theatre on Sept. 22

Tom Petty tribute band The Petty Hearts are coming to the Wayne Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22.

Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival set for Saturday

The Virginia Chili, Blues n' Brews Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday in Downtown Waynesboro.

Events Calendar

Upcoming events in the Shenandoah Valley, Central Virginia and statewide from the Augusta Free Press Events Calendar. Don't see your event listed? Email augustafreepress2@gmail.com.

UVA alum Chris Long to donate first six NFL game checks to fund scholarships

The Chris Long Foundation announced today that Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long will donate his first six game checks of the 2017 NFL season to fund two scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville.

Game Preview: VMI, Chattanooga look to get back on track on Saturday

VMI knew the 2017 football season was going to be a rebuilding year. Chattanooga, coming off a playoff appearance in 2016, had its usual high expectations.

Game Preview: UVA has a chance at Boise State

Vegas and the ESPN Power Index don’t give UVA much of a chance to win at Boise State on Friday night.

Street Knowledge with Chris Graham: First look at UVA-Boise State

Chris Graham and Scott German take a first look at the UVA-Boise State game set for Friday night.

Web Design, Marketing

Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.

Recent Posts
Your One-Stop Media Shop
Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, magazine/brochure, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.
  • Web Design

    You want a new website, but don’t have the first clue as to how to build one. That’s our job. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design and content development. Get your business online for as little as $1,299.
    Learn more about AFP Web Design services.
  • Graphic Design

    The staff at Augusta Free Press Publishing has been recognized by the Virginia Press Association for excellence in layout and design. Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.
    Learn more about AFP Graphic Design services.
  • Marketing

    Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.
    Learn more about AFP Marketing services.