Jay Wright leaving Villanova announces a change of culture in college sports

Wright or evil, Jay is gone.

Wright or evil, Jay is gone.
Drawing: Getty Images

Where have all the missing coaches gone?

Roy Williams, 70, after 33 years as head coach of the UNC. Mike Krzyzewski, 75, after 42 seasons at Duke. And, as of yesterday, Jay Wright, 60, announced he will leave his post of head coach at Villanova after 21 years and two national titles with the program. He led the Wildcats to their final four appearance fourth in his two decades this past March – and this news has sent shock waves through the college basketball landscape.

The old guard is now mostly outside. With Jim Boeheim Syracuse nearly 80 and telling reporters that “there is a plan” when he leaves, he wants to do, leaving the program in a good place, there is not much more to this career – especially now that his own children have graduated. Bill Self is under heavy investigation by the NCAA, and God knows what sanctions might be coming his way next year, though Kansas is firmly standing by his side. John Calipari and Tom Izzo are still there, the first not won a championship in ten years, and this in two decades.

But Wright’s retirement is representative of a major overhaul in college basketball at a time when its foundations are shifting and tripping up those who hold on to it. With the introduction of NIL opportunities coinciding with a wide-open transfer portal, the state of the sport is undoubtedly changing as student-athletes make their own decisions. Maybe they are not ready to change with him. Maybe they wanted to take the money and the memories and spare themselves the stress that comes with change. No one is going to blame them for that, by any means.

Wright was the presumed successor to rise to the top position among college coaches, and now that he’s gone, a gaping hole is widening in the coaching ranks. There are coaches who have been around longer than Wright in the NCAA, but none in the annual championship contender schools, and few with his innate leadership abilities that have been widely praised in the past 24 hours.

As the transfer waivers portal is changing the nature of recruitment and the landscape of the sport, and that student athletes embrace their newfound power and independence, one wonders if the departure of the old guard could be seen as a positive development. As the NCAA moves into this new era, coaches who have been around for decades could go down one of two paths: hold the back of the program refusing to adapt to the new reality, or land the entire sport with guidelines. clear-headed and lead the NCAA in the future with their experience.

Of course, the third option, which seems to be getting quite popular, is to leave and let the new guys get away with it while the old guard reach a reasonable retirement age while screaming… Not my problem!

With their longstanding systems threatened by controversial player autonomy, retirement seems like the logical answer.

So here’s my question: Since college football coaches are the most public and public complainers about this new era, why isn’t there a changing of the guard in this sport as well?

New challenges for traditional power plants

Seems like every week we hear Lane Kiffin or Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney complaining to the press about the difficulties of the transfer portal and the questionable ethics of NIL money as a recruiting tool while the whole of CFB Recruitment is getting a makeover. They face the same challenges as many basketball coaches – in fact, with the amount of NIL money being poured into collectives and promised to unsigned recruits, they could face an even bigger challenge. So why are they sticking around?

Although no university sport can compare to the football machine, the men’s basketball is closest to its financial viability for schools and the NCAA. The largest contracts of the SFBC training and CBB oscillate both around the 10 million, football is often revealing to be a much more unstable position because the limited number of games and the playoffs incredibly small offer increased opportunity for scrutiny by fans. Until Wright Wildcats were one of 68 teams participating in the tournament and making do well in the far east, he was ready. One or two years for a football coach in an institution that specializes in the sport – well, that’s another story.

As these changes, openly criticized by several influential college coaches, continue to take hold, what is keeping them there?

You could argue that a lot of elite college coaches are younger, not quite ready for retirement, but we have guys like Nick Saban, Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh – 70, 60 and 58, respectively. . They wrote their success stories, made their money. Why stay like basketball go blue blood?

Although only the men themselves can answer this question, I can perhaps offer hypotheses on the absence of exodus. The largest lists for football allow greater flexibility – you lose a few guys on the gate, it’s not the end of the world. In basketball, two or three guys who leave have the potential to look like a total reconstruction of the team. The size of the list of a university football team also allows coaches more flexibility to decide who gets the playing time and training representatives, allowing them at least a semblance retain the authority of the past on their athletes .

And while football programs face the greatest competition with NIL temptations and offers from opposing teams, they also benefit. In these major programs, there are many boosters ready to form a collective to attract a child to a team, and the opportunities that are implicitly offered just by being part of such a football program seem quite good.

Football is also fair on a whole other level. The amount of benefits and resources and facilities available to it top programs just don’t compare to what you can get as a basketball coach – even if you’re K. Coach That’s another industry – a more fickle one in many ways but an incredibly rewarding one on a personal level.

Maybe we witness a kind of exodus in the years to come. A retirement Nick Saban would probably be the crowning of such a change, perhaps accompanied by Mack Brown from UNC and Kirk Ferentz of Iowa. This would not be the same range of blue blood programs that retirement from basketball, but it could have a similar signal – perhaps a warning or maybe a change.

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