Buzz Williams Addresses the WVU Postgame Controversy

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It’s well-known that Buzz Williams showed up nearly two hours late to his media session following the West Virginia loss.  He addressed that incident following Saturday’s win over NC State, and we thought you might be interested in the transcript.

Note: to see a video of his comments, fast forward to the 4:33 mark…

“I think this will be the first time in my career as a head coach – this is my ninth year – I’ve ever said anything before you guys pigeonhole me on the questions you have prearranged. I do want to say this, I mean this as genuine as possible. The buttons on Twitter, I don’t know what they all are. Every morning after I get through working out, I send a Tweet, and I know how to compose it, I know how to send it. And then I let my wife hit the button that has all of those mentions.

So this is maybe not the right thing to say. I took the job because of Whit [Babcock]. And I met Whit in Chicago. And then the next day Whit was in Milwaukee. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the country, but where I grew up, when people hired you to haul hay, you were responsible to the man that hired you to haul hay. And I know that being on time with the media is a portion of my job. I mean that respectfully. But I want to tell you that to some level what you say and what you think has no impact on me, because my responsibility is to the children and the families represented in the locker room first. Second, my responsibility is to win, to my boss.

And for those of you that I found out were talking in a very negative way about me, that really is offensive to me. And I want to say that I tried to be as accessible and blunt and transparent with the media as I can. The reason I was late was not because I was having a meltdown with our team. If I was having a meltdown with our team, I would have said I had a meltdown with our team. So I apologize for being late, and I mean that genuinely. But if you ever think that being here is more important than talking to my children or my responsibility to the guy who offered me the job, unequivocally the answer is no.

And I hope that doesn’t offend you or the other media around the world who are watching this, but it’s just in my heart what I believe to be right. I’ll answer any questions you have.”

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33 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I feel terrible for the poor little quote transcribers who had to wait a little while to get their content spoon fed to them by the people who really matter. I hope nary a deadline was missed for a random early season non conference game.

  2. Ok by me…the guy screwed up. He addressed it, apologized, and i take him at his word. It wasn’t a “I screwed up, please forgive me”. He didn’t ASK for forgiveness, nor did he need to IMO.

    I wasn’t happy at all to hear it when it first came out. He needed to address it. He did. I respect him for addressing it (even if, as I suspect, Whit said something to him).

    Old news … now needs to be in the rear view mirror!

  3. I’m all for Buzz but I’m really not clear want he is trying to say. For a guy as savvy and has been on the big stage for awhile I’m a bit mystified why 1) it happened to begin with-maybe they are good reasons and 2) why he didn’t cleanly put it all behind with his statement. I doubt he regained any goodwill with the media that he may have lost.

  4. I understand and appreciate priorities. If he needed that time to handle situations as a coach then I agree that the team and his responsibilites to his players take priority. I want him to do what needs to be done to improve the team. But I also understand what a pain it is to wait with no idea how long that wait might be. Respect requires one to inform those who are waiting if you are going to be much later than expected. A simple message of I will be there in an hour or whatever would allow people to take care of other things and then return. Also, when building a program and changing the culture of a program, the media can be a very helpful partner. Buzz is very priority driven; someone, perhaps Whit, needs to help him consider how to better deal with the media when those priorities clash with others expectations.

  5. If this were a pattern of behavior it might be an issue. From time to time, however, it’s going to happen. As long as there is a good reason for it, I have no problem with it. Somebody has to inform the members of the media that the coach will not be available for while, and Coach Williams may have dropped the ball where that is concerned. But beyond that, there are priorities bigger than meeting with the media after every game. Buzz Williams gets that. The more I learn about this guy, the more I like him.

  6. I just think that Buzz might have to review his job description and understand all that goes with being a highly paid college basketball coach. I also think for someone like Buzz, who appears to be very detailed, should have had the forethought to have plans for whatever delayed him. I also wonder how Buzz would react to one of his players being late for a necessary mtg or practice while doing something that is of the utmost importance to that player…like maybe talking through a life event with a friend that could be much larger than basketball?? The bottom line is that we really don’t know what held him up but does it really matter? No! He was late and he just should have owned it! Period!

  7. This was irresponsible on Buzz’s part. I am not a big media supporter. However, like it or not, the “media” gives the needed exposure any program needs to compete. To put himself above the Virginia Tech’s publicity commitments is surprising and immature. This can’t be his first lose as a coach.

    Plus, not to show up to the our own radio show can not be sitting well with Whit.

    1. Keep in mind he says the local media doesn’t matter, only the national media, and they likely aren’t covering our games

  8. The first priority of the head basketball coach is to coach. That said, Buzz Williams’ handling of his press responsibilities following the WVU game was poor form and his “apology” leaves much to be desired.
    Virginia Tech’s basketball program has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for a while now. Hokie basketball needs all the favorable publicity it can get. Favorable publicity helps put fans in all those empty seats and may help persuade some (hypothetical) high school stud in Richmond to take his talents to Blacksburg. The head coach is the face of the program and, as such, has a responsibility to do whatever he can to project Tech in the most favorable light at all times. This includes ensuring that media responsibilities are met. Certainly, there are members of the media who are difficult and boorish. There always have been (and I say this having worked on press row alongside Bill Brill way back when I wrote for the Collegiate Times). But no useful purpose is served by ticking off folks whose employers buy ink by the barrel.
    Buzz Williams has at least one former head coach on his staff. If there was a good reason for Buzz to be late for his media availability after the loss to WVU — and I am confidant there was — he could have and should have sent one of this assistants to speak to the media as his surrogate. Many coaches do this from time-to-time. For example, the coach on the other bench that day, Bob Huggins, has occasionally sent Billy Hahn or others on his staff to talk to the media when his postgame sessions with his team have run long. Coach K regularly has an assistant handle the halftime interview responsibility during his games.
    It is very easy for we, as fans, to dismiss the burdens of the working media. Sure, some of those guys are jerks. But a lot of them are good, decent folk who have a less pleasant job than you might imagine and get paid dimes to do it. Even apart from the unnecessary, adverse impact poor press relations may have on Virginia Tech and the basketball program, it is simply good people skills and good judgment to make a reasonable effort to help the media do its job.
    I am pretty anti-media myself these days. And Buzz’ most recent comments will resonate with a lot of folks who are turned off by the media – much like the remarks of Donald Trump. But I find Buzz’s “apology” to be lacking. The lecture and attitude that surrounded the words of apology were unnecessary and, in my view, will make things worse in the long run.
    Tech will struggle to break .500 this year and next. That likely would happen even if a media-friendly savant was coaching the Hokies. The storyline for the next couple years could be “bright young coach works hard to turn around the program” or “arrogant, self-centered flash-in-the-pan collects the cash while his team fails.” How do each of these stories impact the Tech program? Depending on how Buzz learns from this experience, we may find out the answer to one of those questions.

    1. In watching the video, I can see how some might feel like the apology was less than 100% genuine and perhaps borderline lecturing, but I believe that is kind of the way he communicates all the time, is it not? Very matter of fact, short concise sentences…not really an “aww, shucks” kind of talker. I don’t think his apology rang hollow just because of the delivery, but perhaps because he had a legitimate beef of his own. Poor form for these guys to run off to twitter to complain about the wait. That’s a chicken-poo way out. Maybe ask the man a direct question about it when he finally gets to the pc if you want to try and make a point.

      I’m sure both parties would do it different if given the chance. Story being overblown I think.

    2. Media guy- do your research. Your “boorish” buddies trashed him because they were a little inconvenienced. His response to their whining was spot on- and likely will generate higher attendance than if he didn’t make an impact with his players when it was most important, and they continued to lose. Instead, they won their first ACC game!

      1. I’m not a media guy. I’m a lawyer. And I recognize poor form when I see it. It’s not a matter of being inconvenienced; it’s a matter of selling the Virginia Tech brand in its best light. I have no problem with Buzz Williams spending as much time with the team as he feels necessary after a game. There is nothing unusual about doing so. The coach’s mistake was failing to send a proxy to meet the press; something other experienced, successful coaches know to do. The failure either constitutes poor planning or an “all about me” attitude. Because of the way Buzz handled this little incident, a certain segment of the media will likely believe it is the latter and, when things go bad as they most certainly will from time-to-time, that is the storyline those reporters will follow, to Tech’s detriment. And it does not have to be that way.

  9. I agree with CC that someone should have kept media informed. We want Coach to put winning team together, so maybe he felt it was more important for the team for him to be there rather than with the media.

  10. CC in that transcript, is Buzz saying that Whit made him latewhen he was 2 hours late talking to the press, because he was talking to Whit instead? Or is he just saying that he’ll answer to Whit if Whit has a problem with him being late, but he won’t answer to the press beyond the apology he offered?

    Am I the only one who thinks parts of the statement are more confusing than clarifying? I’m trying to understand what he means by saying that talking to the press isn’t as important as talking to his children. He doesn’t owe the press or anyone else specific details about his family, but is he saying there was a family emergency and he needed to deal with/address it with his children? If so, then why doesn’t he say that, without going into specifics? I mean, in a macro sense ‘talking with his children’ is more important than coaching basketball, also. But it would take a pretty big deal along the lines of some kind of emergency for him to be 2 hours late to a basketball game or practice b/c his kids needed to talk to him.

    By children I take it he means his own kids that he has with his wife, right? Because at first he talks about his responsibility to “the children and the families represented in the locker room.” Which sounds like he means his players. But then he later says being with the press isn’t as important as “talking to my children” which makes it sound like he means his own actual family/kids. Unless he routinely calls his players, his children. So is he saying he was talking with his actual family, or his team?

    All in all it seems like a (perhaps unintentionally) vague and confusing statement. The apology part standing by itself is clear. If all he wanted to do was apologize he could have done so and not offered the other stuff. But since he *did* offer the other stuff, I wish he’d stated it in a way that clarified rather than muddied exactly what the deal was, and that didn’t seem to undercut the apology offered. He seems basically to be saying he himself is convinced that what he was doing was more important than speaking with the media on time, and how dare the media criticize him for keeping them waiting for 2 hours. And it had something to do with kids (someone’s) and with families, and maybe with Whit. Is that about it?

    I wasn’t super up in arms about his being late. But since he saw fit to make a statement I’m trying to understand what it is that he’s saying.

    1. He meant that Whit is a high priority because he hired him to win games. Whit was in the hallway waiting, along with everybody else. Then he eventually left.

    2. He said “my responsibility is to the children and the families represented in the locker room” so meant his players, not his literal children. Then he meant Whit is his boss, so he answers to him, not any media.

    3. “His children” he’s referencing are the players…the children of the families of the program

  11. The only thing strange in there to me is that Buzz says the negative things the media were saying offended him. He doesn’t seem like the type that would care what others think about him. But it is surprising that he seems surprised the media said bad things about him after he “stood them up” for almost two hours.

    1. Kind of inconsistent to claim in one breath that he doesn’t care what the media thinks or writes and, in the next breath, say he is offended by what some folks tweeted.

    2. He said the comments offended him then he said he doesn’t care what they think because his responsibility is to the “children”, their parents, and the AD. Which is it?

  12. Big Picture. Does anyone really care that he showed up 2 minutes or 2 hours after the game. I for one, do believe that Buzz has the right to convene with the team first and should only answer to Whit or other leadership at VT such as Dr. Sands. If he showed up late for a Hokie Club function with fans and donors, that is still a higher priority in my book. However, like anything else, it would be a good idea to have a reasonable excuse, even if not the truth

    1. The problem is Whit as part of his responsibilities is to keep the donations flowing in from the public. That means if he likes it or not, and I think he actually does, he DOES answer to groups outside of the VT admin for his well being.

      ANd those are also the people for whom the media is their primary conduit for day to day coverage of the teams.

      Therefore Whit’s job is made harder when a coach isnt working with the media, and that coach’s job is in trouble when he makes the AD’s job harder, which is something Buz understands very well I assume.

  13. I’m not buying the whole I dont know how twitter really works defense but whatever. I see him replying to people not just putting out the little quotes daily. If his wife tweets she puts her initials on it which is rare.

  14. I love this statement. It’s appalling that fans were upset with him because he didn’t show up for media. I read one post that was livid because there were no post-game quotes on the radio while said poster was driving home.

    I’m really glad he is our coach. I just hope he doesn’t get frustrated with lack of support and leaves.

  15. Not being part of the media, I obviously do not know whether this would offend me or not. I believe Buzz’s answer to be genuine. The only problem I see in the situation is why was someone not informed that he would not be coming out. We have folks that disseminate information for the program. It would be easy for them to say hey media – Buzz is with the team and he may not be coming out.

    1. “The only problem I see in the situation is why was someone not informed that he would not be coming out. We have folks that disseminate information for the program.”

      Bill Dyer is that guy for VT. He’s in the locker room with the team after the game. He motioned for us to go down to the media room after awhile, but we couldn’t really read his lips through the glass. But it’s not his fault. He can’t control what Buzz does, nor can he tell how long Buzz is going to talk. He just has to stand there and take it like everybody else.

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