Chris Graham: Looks like I was right on Gaudio

Column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net
 

Unfortunately, the column is lost to history, since ACCNation.com is lost to history.

(OK, somebody is using the name, and yeah, I’m kinda bothered by that, since I was the one who came up with the name, on the drive back from the Maryland-UVa. football game in 2004, when the radio show that spawned what became a pretty damn good sports blog covering the ACC was itself given life.)

Chief among the reasons that I left the franchise that I helped build from dirt and twigs was the firestorm of reaction to a column that I wrote blasting Wake Forest for hiring Dino Gaudio to be its basketball coach.

Not only is the column no longer on the ‘Net, but I didn’t save an archive for myself. Shame on me. Because now I’m having to ask you to take my word for it.

That I said in 2007 of the hiring of Gaudio that it was shortsighted, and would be exposed as such, before the five-year deal that he had signed would come to a conclusion.

(And then Wake, in its wisdom, went and extended Gaudio to 2014 this past October. Six months before giving the guy the axe. Two wrongs make a … big, expensive wrong.)

That I said the hiring was based on the fact that Gaudio’s good friend and former boss, Skip Prosser, who tragically passed away in the summer of 2007, had recruited a stellar recruiting class that included Jeff Teague, James Johnson and Al-Farouq Aminu, that the folks in the know were afraid that the kids might bolt if a guy was brought in from the outside to take over from Prosser, and that in effect the Wake athletics department was letting its read of what three 17-year-olds might want in terms of their college coach dictate what they were going to do with the job.

That I pointed to Gaudio’s less-than-stellar track record as a head coach – 68-124 in six years at Army and Loyola (Md.) – and asked rhetorically, What the hell are you doing?

The fun part to the column was how it ended up getting posted on a Wake fan website, and how Wake fans decided that they needed to let me know in no uncertain terms what a @#$% I was.

Oh, yeah. It wasn’t pretty. And it didn’t take long for me to fight back, leading to surprising (to me) tensions with my ACC Nation pals that resulted in our unfortunate parting of the ways.

The show and the website – the original website, anyway – was gone in a year. And my foresight looked like anything but in Gaudio’s second season when the Deacs spent a week at #1 in the national polls and finished with a 24-7 record.

But then Teague and Johnson bolted early for the NBA. And Wake in the face of high expectations in 2009-2010 limped home with a 20-11 record and a second straight early NCAA Tournament exit.

Wake fired Gaudio today. Athletics Director Ron Wellman had this to say of the move: “This was not a decision based upon a one-year performance. We can put up with a disappointment. We have disappointments all the time. But there is a pattern here that needed to be addressed, a three-year pattern that needed to be addressed.”

I’m not reveling in Gaudio’s ultimate failure, but neither do I feel bad for him. (Read: “buyout.”)

But do I feel a bit of vindication here considering how out of control the situation that began with my simple criticism of what I saw as a bad move ended up getting? (Keep in mind, I lost friends over this!)

Hell, yes, I do.

I was right, the fans who raked me over the coals were wrong, and looking back, yeah, it was probably OK for me to have defended myself.


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