Take one look toward what has happened in Charlotte since last December to get some grasp of what Carolina has done with Roy Williams in Chapel Hill.
Ol’ Roy, as everyone likes to call him, went and got his name put on the court at the home of the coach he so greatly admires. Actually, he went and did nothing more than his job — this was all Carolina’s idea.
And one of their better ones, too.
Williams didn’t need it to help him land recruits, and he sure as fire didn’t need it for his ego. Bless his heart, he’s a 68-year-old kid from Asheville who loves the game, learned it well mostly from Dean Smith, and simply wants to teach it and coach it at his alma mater.
It’s easy to like Williams. And it’s easy to be happy for him, whether your colors are the other shade of blue or red or ABC.
He’s given 25 years to Carolina basketball as a coach, the first 10 as an assistant before his only other head coaching gig at Kansas. Prep coaches identify and like him in part because he earned his first stripes coaching five years in Black Mountain at Owen High.
His high school coach, Buddy Baldwin, gets credit for hooking him on the game. Williams says it was Smith, Bill Guthridge and Eddie Fogler who taught him how to run a program. With his graduate and undergraduate degrees from Carolina, he’s blue through and through.
Fans love that. They love his plain talk about complicated subjects, from the awkward time a courtside reporter asked him about a vacancy at Carolina during the Final Four to the drama — “the junk” says Ol’ Roy — most recently enveloping the university.
In thinking of his 842 wins, remember he got them in fewer seasons than any other coach. And he’s got more than 400 at two blue bloods of the sport. National titles for Carolina in 2005, 2009 and 2017 are one more than Smith.
This isn’t a charmed life he’s fell into, it’s a lesson for us all on how to — pardon another Roy-ism — “work your tail off.” This court naming is earned, same as the recruits he lured, the sweat for the titles and the ability to shake off a lot more than “the junk.”
Over in the Queen City and down at Wofford College in Spartanburg across the state line, quite a few things have been named for a fella who grew up in Fayetteville. At various times, like with UNC Charlotte’s football stadium, it seemed like the right thing to do.
Hindsight being 20/20, it doesn’t look so swell now.
That’s relevant because there is no way Carolina — rife with a troubled athletics history this decade, with coaches at many institutions almost regularly getting splashed through the news cycle for all the wrong reasons — makes this commitment to Williams without being absolutely sure there should be nothing later to cause embarrasment.
Once upon a time, a coach’s name on a court was very unique. Now there’s a number of them in the ACC alone.
But in the future they won’t just be given out, not anymore, not with today’s dirt diggers.
The Hall of Famer deserves this from his university. If they didn’t think he did anything wrong with the bogus classes, then his character is clear in their eyes. What better way to honor their beloved leader.
Roy Williams Court at the Dean E. Smith Center. Two names forever ingrained in Tobacco Road lore.
Dadgum if it don’t seem like the right fit.
Alan Wooten’s sports column appears regularly in the Bladen Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-247-9132.