The fallout from Seth Greenberg's termination has radiated from the local media in and around Blacksburg to national personalities across the country. Everyone has an opinion on why he was fired, and whether or not it was fair. Jim Weaver's timing, delivery, and logic certainly didn't provide for a clean cut, but breakups are usually messy. How the Colts, Irsay, and Manning parted ways isn't the norm, it's the exception.
During his tenure at Virginia Tech Seth Greenberg forged many different relationships. The most public were those with the students he talked to at D2, and fans that packed the Cassell. Seth endeared himself to them. He was smart enough to know he needed their buy-in to create a big time college basketball atmosphere in Blacksburg —which had been non-existent up until his arrival— to attract recruits, and ultimately win games. He excelled at that. It's not surprising then, that those dedicated fans who not only witnessed those exciting moments, but felt like they helped create them, are upset he's gone.
The national media, especially those at ESPN, have his back too. Though, their arguments are weak. Prime among the bunch is: we should be happy to be marginally better than average at hoops because we're a "football school". They also skirt right by the lack of tournament appearances, one of the few stats that matter to Tech fans. Based on his resume, the national media wouldn't of blinked twice at his firing if Tech was a "basketball school" trying to compete for more than moral victories.
Again, I'm not stunned. Seth prioritized the Four-Letter as much as anything. And don't get me wrong, having GameDay in Blacksburg for a win over Duke was a coup orchestrated by Seth. However, his stint as an ESPN analyst might have been at least partially self serving. Local columnist Bob Molinaro details a series of run-ins that lead him to conclude that Greenberg is now free to chase his "dream job" at ESPN. In fact, they are interested in him coming to work. Seth is also friendly with John Feinstein who wrote about the former HeadHokie, "It might well be that Virginia Tech already had Frank Beamer in sneakers on the payroll." Jim Rome, who's had Seth as a guest on his show, went to bat for him too.
(If I've learned one thing from this, it's having a lot of friends with loud mouths and large audiences is a good thing.)
With all the public support, where did things sour then?
Few of us were privy to the behind the scene relationships Seth had with his players, assistant coaches and superiors. However, information that's normally kept behind closed doors is coming out into the open. Erick Green took up for his former coach.
"He was a great guy," Green said. "I think people thought we had conflicts. We had no conflicts at all. He was a great guy. It just [stinks] he has to go."
While Jeff Allen almost relished in Greenberg's dismissal.
Man I wish I was at tech 4 this news don't want to get my hopes up but if it's wat I this it is shuda happen a long time ago— Jeff Allen ♊ (@Cool_Jallen) April 23, 2012
Twitter brought to light the #chillin–#grindin saga.
"Chilling is out of the vocabulary. If I see 'chilling' on Twitter, they immediately get a message from me: 'Coach Greenberg doesn't chill. He just strictly grinds.' Chilling is a bad word. You can't have success and chill in the same sentence. If you're chilling, you're going backwards."
In one ear, and out the other, players hash tagged the shit out "chillin" throughout the entire season.
The recent trend of staff turnover culminated this year with the exodus of all three assistants and director of basketball operations. Initially it was thought money (or lack thereof) was an issue, especially involving (beloved) assistant coach James Johnson who left for Clemson. But that wasn't the case. Weaver would've matched Clemson's salary offer, but that didn't sway Johnson who later said, "I think in this business, coaches have to do what they think is best for their careers." Then there's this.
"He had run-ins with everyone," a former Virginia Tech assistant said of Greenberg. "Eventually, everybody has their breaking point."
"He's a very, very good coach," the ex-assistant said of Greenberg. "There's more to it than that, and that's the reality. There's more to it than that."
The man who broke last was the one who had been in Seth's corner the longest. When things were rough during last season's 4-12 ACC campaign, Jim Weaver publicly supported Seth and brushed aside any notion that Greenberg was on the hot seat. Sometime last week Weaver did a 180, and decided to move in a different direction. At the press conference he said, "It had nothing to do with losing, it had nothing to do with NCAA appearances, it had something to do with people leaving and it had something to do with me wanting to change the direction and leadership of the program." Weaver emphasized the basketball program lacked the "family environment" found around the rest of the athletic department. Here's more from David Teel.
But after nine seasons, the second-longest tenure in program history, Greenberg had chafed too many within the athletic department, including Weaver and several assistant coaches who resigned. They considered him abrasive and arrogant, the antithesis of the "family atmosphere" Weaver wants his coaches to foster.
There are three sides to every story: yours, theirs and the truth. None of us will never know what really happened here. Ultimately I think Seth was fired because he didn't win enough games, and because he rubbed too many people, including his boss, the wrong way. Was it fair? No (when Seth was notified), yes (the actual decision), but does it really matter now?