Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Last Word on Tommy? Part 1

I've probably embarrased myself by declaring so much love for Tony Kornheiser's show on Washington Post Radio before, but he had two interviews last week that I think could be of interest to Michigan basketball fans. So during this lull, before John Beilein is officially introduced as the Wolverines' next coach (and in the meantime, Maize n Brew has given him a checklist to go over), I figured this could be a good way to pass the time.

Last Thursday, Kornheiser talked to his old buddy John Feinstein about the Final Four, and more specifically, Kentucky's interest in Billy Donovan. Toward the end of the interview, however, Mr. Tony snuck in a question about Tommy Amaker, whom he still holds a curiosity for because he's a "local kid" from northern Virginia, and - as Michigan fans might hurt to remember - he was considered something of a future coaching star when he arrived in Ann Arbor.

I've transcribed the conversation about Amaker for you to read (which I hope I'm allowed to do), but if you'd prefer to listen to it yourself, the show is available via podcast. (You can also download the show directly here.) If you're pressed for time, the Amaker stuff is from the 51:27 to 53:33 mark.

Tony Kornheiser: What's the deal with Tommy Amaker?

John Feinstein: I wish I knew the answer to that. To me, Tommy has everything that should make him a successful college coach. He's a bright guy, he came out of a great program, he learned from a great coach, he's someone people like when they meet him. He's gotta be great in the homes. You know, any mother has gotta look at Tommy Amaker and say, "I want my kid to be with him for four years." He recruited some very highly rated high school players when he was at Michigan, and they never, ever lived up to their alleged potential.

TK: Mm-hmm.

JF: And this year, they were seniors. He had four seniors on the team this year. You know what's interesting about a situation like this? They're playing Ohio State the last Saturday of the regular season, they're up six with three and a half to go... and they don't score again, they lose the game. If they win that game, they're in the tournament, and Tommy is still the coach.

TK: Right.

JF: It's that slender a margin sometimes. You know, that's the business. And Tommy understands that. Every coach in the business understands that, that there can be one play - literally - that decides a coach's future one way or the other. And in this case, they didn't get it done in a couple of games in the last two or three years. They're about three wins away from being in the NCAA the last three years, and he's probably got a contract extension, but they didn't win --

TK: Will he get another Division I, high profile job, for his next job, or will he have to do sort of what Matt Doherty did, and go way down?

JF: I don't know about how far down he'll have to go. But he'll have to take a step down. He's not getting a Big East job. He's not getting an ACC job, you know? And again, knowing Tommy, he might, at this point in his life, be saying, "maybe that's more the route I wanna go. Maybe it'd be more fun for me to coach at that next level now. I made a lot of money." His wife's a psychiatrist. It's not, like, you know, they're gonna be hungry. Maybe he might enjoy that next level down more. I don't know. I'm purely speculating on that.

On Friday, Kornheiser also asked Jay Bilas about Amaker, and... you can probably imagine how that went. But I've transcribed that in a second post, which you can read below.

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