Blog Entry

Wyoming's Shyatt slams coaching 'sellouts'

Posted on: May 27, 2011 10:51 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 10:54 am

Posted by Eric Angevine

In spring and summer - the time when college hoops goes on the back burner for most sports fans - it pays to keep an ear to the ground. Or, more realistically, to stuff one's RSS reader with so many local newspaper feeds that even blips of salient information end up being read.

That's how the Wyoming Tribune Eagle ended up in my purview, and that's where I read this tidbit, from new University of Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt, who came back to Laramie to a job he held previously in 1997-98. Shyatt left to become head coach at Clemson and also served as an assistant at Florida from 2004-2011. Wyoming beat reporter Robert Gagliardi asked Shyatt how it felt to be back in charge of recruiting at the MWC level after having been in the power conference world for so long, and got this interesting answer:

"Coaches are under a great deal of pressure to make a couple of key decisions. One, do I go after the most amount of talent that the eyes tell me and maybe look the other way in terms of either academics or value system? Or do I try to get a better combination?

As much as I want to win and as much as I distaste losing, I can assure you I'm not going to look the other way. That's not a direction I'm comfortable with. Early in my career I was confronted with some of those decisions. It's a lot easier now for me."

Gagliardi: Why is that easier for you now?

"I would say it's mostly been me. It's mostly been my distaste for the BCS-level basketball world.

Most of the people I admired most in my career I don't really admire anymore. (F)or the analysts or the writers or the public or our wives, sometimes, they have a warm, fuzzy feeling for some people that if they knew what I knew, they wouldn't have such a warm, fuzzy feeling. It's disappointing. I'm one of the few basketball dinosaurs. I love the profession. It hurts me to see at that level the sellouts in that regard."

Shyatt's no dummy. He doesn't come right out and say who he's labeling a 'sellout', or which coaches have fallen from grace in his estimation, but he does the next best thing. He gives Gagliardi a list of coaches he does admire. "The people I talk the most to, whether I'm looking for advice or friends, would be (current UW assistant head coach) Scott Duncan. Matt Driscoll, Donnie Jones, Anthony Grant, Billy Donovan in the Florida family. Then Rick Barnes, Gary Colson and probably Herb Sendeck and Jeff Van Gundy." Within the MWC, he cites Air Force head coach Jeff Reynolds as his closest friend.

Famous people often do such a good job of managing their images that we in the general public have no idea what they're really like. Top-level basketball coaches are essentially celebrities, who spend much of their time selling a persona to recruits, donors and the general public. It's interesting to hear from a coach who's been to the mountaintop (two national championships as a Florida assistant) and come back home to finish his career, reveal that some of those sterling faces might be just masks.

Wyoming is always going to be a tough place to recruit, no matter who's coaching there, so it'll be interesting to see how far Shyatt gets with his stated commitment to doing things the honest way.

Photo: Getty Images
Category: NCAAB

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: May 28, 2011 8:54 pm

Wyoming's Shyatt slams coaching 'sellouts'

Sorry but this story does not pass the 'smell' test. There are way too many good, honest, hard-working coaches in the country to exclude all but eight (Jeff Van Gundy of course is not a college coach but now broadcaster after a long NBA coaching career). Sure BCS conference recruiting is brutal. Every top player hears from a dozen top coaches and each one must do something to distinguish himself. Anytime you lose out on a recruit it might seem like someone has tilted the table. But if coach Shyatt has knowledge of improper actions he is expected to report them to the NCAA.

Now certain coaches are widely thought to be uncaring about the principles of amateur student-athlete. In particular that charge has been often leveled against John Calipari of UK who not only is the sole coach to have a Final Four season vacated from improprieties, he has two seasons with two different teams vacated. In addition coach Calhoun of UConn was punished (but not during last year to win the NCAA championship) and Bruce Pearl of UT has also recently been punished by the NCAA and his school, losing his job. Two of these are in the SEC and recruit against Florida.

Even with these in mind, it seems unfair to blanket accuse and it feels like exactly the sort of dirty recruiting tactic coach Shyatt seems to be speaking against. So coach - you are requested to put up or back off this general condemnation approach. Families of recruits are being unfairly manipulated.

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