Marquette has carved out a nice little tournament run. As the East’s No. 11 seed the Golden Eagles knocked off No. 6 seed Xavier 66-55, then upset No. 3 seed Syracuse 66-62. Without much expected from them this year, the Golden Eagles’ march to the Sweet 16 has been a surprise to many. As such, head coach Buzz Williams’ name has come up in connection to a few “bigger” jobs.
Williams was thought of as a distant candidate for the Arkansas opening, but soon after Jeff Capel was sent packing at Oklahoma, “Coach Buzz” shot to the top of the Sooners’ list. Over the weekend several sources admitted that the 38-year-old Williams is Oklahoma’s top target. That’s really nice for him, but frankly the guy would have to be insane to take that job.
From the sources we’ve talked to we know this: Williams loves his Marquette squad. More importantly, he loves the team he has coming back next season. The Golden Eagles lose four seniors, of those only Jimmy Butler and Dwight Buycks are starters. While Butler is a really nice player and has had a good senior season (15.8 points, 6.1 rebounds per game) he is replaceable.
In addition to that, the Golden Eagles have a very good recruiting class coming in next year. Four-star small forward Juan Anderson will likely contribute early and point guard Derrick Wilson will probably earn solid minutes by midseason. Translation: If Williams could get this Marquette team to the Sweet 16, he could do damage next year with a bunch of returnees and a good recruiting class.
Meanwhile, things at Oklahoma aren’t exactly rosy. After back-to-back losing seasons, Capel was sent packing, and his roster is a mess. Oklahoma missed out on signing any big-time recruits over the past two seasons. While Capel did get highly-touted JUCO forward Robert Goff to commit for next season, Goff is now rumored to be headed elsewhere, considering the main reason he signed with the Sooners was his close relationship with the now deposed coach.
In addition to that, Oklahoma could be facing major sanctions because former assistant Oronde Taliaferro may have been involved in securing a loan for now-departed forward Tiny Gallon from a financial advisor. Even if the NCAA spares the Sooners, the reputation of the program has been severely damaged (once again) and the cupboard is basically bare for recruits and on the current roster. It is a serious rebuilding project to say the least.
Williams (reportedly) makes about $1.5 million per year right now, and Oklahoma would probably have to offer around $2 million to even get his attention. The school just shelled out around $2.2 million just to get Capel to go away, so clearly it has the money. And yes, Williams is a Texas native, so the pull to be closer to home will certainly be present.
Knowing Williams’ personality, I honestly don’t think he goes to Oklahoma. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and I don’t think money alone would sway him to leave what he’s got at Marquette. Especially considering that he’s definitely in line for a raise from his current school.
He’s built a very solid roster and with the talent he has coming in and the experience gained in the postseason this year, the Golden Eagles could be a force next season.
Frankly, Williams would have to be crazy to leave what he has in Milwaukee.