Commentary

Reflecting on Gary Williams' decision

Updated: May 6, 2011, 1:08 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

I was stunned to hear that Gary Williams is stepping down as the head basketball coach at Maryland. I know how much he loved his alma mater.

I know all about the passion he had for the coaching profession. And I know how much he meant to the school's program.

Williams ate, drank and slept basketball. More than anyone, he poured his heart and soul into every practice session. He loved throwing on his shorts and working hard to make his team better. He was great at motivating and inspiring his players. He lived and died on every turnover, every score, every play.

I spoke to Gary on Friday morning and he said he thought about retiring last year. He decided to come back and even mentioned having a great relationship with new athletic director Kevin Anderson. But now he feels it is the right time to leave the sideline. He recently got remarried and feels there are other challenges ahead. I would not be surprised if he tried his hand in broadcasting. Williams is knowledgeable and has strong opinions, so he would make a solid analyst.

[+] EnlargeGary Williams
AP Photo/Chuck BurtonGary Williams led a super, scintillating and sensational Maryland squad to the national title in 2002.

The timing of Williams' announcement is surprising because he had a good recruiting class coming in and an opportunity to rebuild. Jordan Williams recently decided to stay in the NBA draft, but Maryland is returning Terrell Stoglin and other players with good potential.

Williams' attitude and approach to college basketball paid dividends at American University, Boston College, Ohio State and Maryland in 33 years on the sidelines. He was a winner everywhere he worked. He was also an iconic figure in the ACC, as only Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski won more league games than Williams.

And don't forget -- he got to cut down the nets as a national champion in 2002. That was a very special moment for him and the Terrapins as Juan Dixon and company were super, scintillating and sensational.

Williams had an incredible career. He had 14 NCAA appearances in the last 18 years. He always lived by the doctrine of the coaching profession -- get the most out of every player. There's also a saying that I think speaks to Gary Williams: "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."

If I were the Terrapins' athletic director, I would be making a call to Minnesota. Tubby Smith has great ties in the Baltimore area and would be an excellent candidate for the Terps.

In the meantime, I will truly miss seeing Gary Williams on the collegiate sideline. Hopefully, he will receive serious consideration for the Hall of Fame, where he would be a worthy addition.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.