"I leave the program in far greater shape than when I was hired nine years ago."
These are the words that former Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg told ESPN.com yesterday. Former Virginia Tech head coach. It was a move that, in and of itself may not be particularly surprising, having made just one NCAA tournament in the past nine years, but when taken together with how the Hokie administration went about it, was downright shocking to everyone, including Greenberg.
In fact, when the Daily Press's David Teel gave Greenberg a call around noon today, after Virginia Tech announced a press release scheduled for 4:00, the subject matter of which was not disclosed, Greenberg answered the phone with, "Yes, I'm still employed."
Apparently, it wasn't until closer to 1:30 p.m. that VT Athletics Director Jim Weaver actually informed Greenberg of his fate, meaning some members of the media had figured it out before Greenberg himself did.
However you feel about Greenberg - whether he whined too much on the court and off, whether he was capable of taking Virginia Tech to the next level, whether he isolated the rest of Virginia Tech athletics - there's no question as to the truth of Greenberg's statement. When he started at Virginia Tech, the Hokies had suffered losing seasons in five of the six previous seasons, including multiple seasons of 10 or fewer wins.
For that, and for many other reasons, Greenberg deserved better from Virginia Tech. At the very least, he deserved to know before the media figured it out. I think he deserved at least another year there, a year in which it would be made clear to Greenberg that he's on the hot seat, that it's NCAA or bust.
At the end of the day, isn't it about winning?
Weaver did himself no favors by saying that, "It had nothing to do with losing, it had nothing to do with NCAA appearances." Instead, he cited his wanting to change the leadership at the top to someone who "has the same kind of family environment that the other part of our department has."
Ah yes. I can see how, as the father figure of this said family, you would put your son up for adoption without his knowing, in hopes of finding a better son.
What does this mean for Virginia fans? For one, it means chaos over the next few months and certainly into the start of the next season.
How do you attract a decent basketball coach when (a) you're very clearly a football, one-sport school and (b) you just showed the entire pool of prospects that if things don't go exactly as you envision, the consequences could be swift and severe on the next candidate.
How do you continue to attract top recruits - any recruits? - when you quite literally have no leadership? Virginia Tech's website currently has TBA for the head coach and director of basketball operations positions, and lists only John Richardson as an assistant coach. The problem there is that Richardson was just announced at ODU as returning to the Monarch basketball program as an assistant coach.
How do the current players continue their off-season training when their time is probably just as well spent on the message boards trying to figure out who their next coach will be? For many reasons, this being one of them, basketball coaching changes are typically done right after the season, not a month or two later, when all the good prospects are taken and your kids are rested up and ready to work out again.
Whether Virginia Tech will be able to land a better coach than Greenberg remains unseen. Virginia fans should enjoy the circus going on in Blacksburg right now, but keep in the back of their mind that Greenberg, to a great degree, had perhaps taken the Hokie program to his glass ceiling. They certainly haven't been with a lack of talent over there the past few years, and you really have to look at Greenberg as a big reason for their inability to make the NCAA tournament. Depending on who the Hokies are able to trick into leading their program going forward, it could spell trouble for the rest of the ACC, who already sees Tech as an outside threat with enough talent to make a dent in anyone's resume (just ask the No. 1 2010-11 Duke team, the No. 1 2008-09 Wake Forest team, or the No. 1 2006-07 North Carolina teams, for starters).