Three Sides

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.

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?

Comments

Nice Write Up

I like this opinion here:

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.

Someone forgot to give this memo to Billy Donovan and Thad Matta

That's what bothers me most

About the National Media. We should be "happy" we are relevant in basketball...No. I'm sorry, but I grew up on tobacco road with Duke/State/Carolina always being in the news locally and nationally, and quite frankly I love college basketball because I grew up on Tobacco Road. I expect more than 1 tournament appearance in a decade. We have only had 8 appearances ever (about once a decade, to be precise) and have only even made it to the Sweet 16/Elite 8 once. All the talking heads that wouldn't step foot in Blacksburg if it wasn't a football game need to shut up. They don't know us. I don't like the way that Jim Weaver handled the firing, in fact it really bothers me. But I feel it needed to happen.

But hey, Jim Rome and Feinstein say we shouldn't have fired Seth, so what do I know?

North Carolina Raised, Hokie Bred

The national media does not like VT. They used to when we were on the rise in football, but we became a stale story and our lack of "big game" wins puts us as a second tier story/program. So we are fun to hate on. They don't see potential ahead for VT anymore, we are the "they don't belong here" team every year now . Perhaps its deserved, perhaps not. But its fine by me, because I see it differently and think we have a lot of upside and I hope we get to watch them squirm and/or jump on a bandwagon someday soon. But overall, we've lost the favor of the national media in football and, since that is the lead program, that trickles down to others. Seth was the one guy they liked because he gave them color and sound bites and was great in front of a camera.

I don't like the way Weaver handled the firing either. But I agree, the media gives VT very little positive press anymore but seems to love to jump on something negative. VT fans need to be tough though, shrug that off, rally round each other, put a chip on our shoulders, and enjoy the us vs the world role.

As I noted in my comments on Twitter and here, it blows my mind on how people have focused on everything except the lack of improvement players made on the court. If it is one or two guys who were excellent contributors as freshmen but never improved and were essentially the same players their senior year, then you can attribute that to those players. Instead, that MO can be attributed to every significant player he recruited, and that points directly to Seth's ability to teach and coach once the players signed their LOI. He coached the same way that John Calipari coached at Memphis, which is get the best athletes, and out-athlete everybody. That only works when not only do you have the best athletes, but your athletes are MUCH better than your opponent, and in the ACC, unless they start their own mini-UNLV in Blacksburg.

Not making the NCAA tournament, when 68 teams make the dance, to me is like the football team not making it to a bowl game (perhaps a better example would be making the Eagle Bank Millitary Bowl after a 6-6 season, 4-6 in conference.) If Coach Beamer had 8 years of either not making a bowl, or making 2nd tier bowls that didn't matter, we would be screaming for his head. In today's college athletics, having a decent year and making a bowl or making the tournament to get knocked out in the first round or just missing, just doesn't cut the mustard. Seth's performance in the ACC is the definition of mediocre, and wouldn't be accepted at any other ACC school. When you add the problems with the administration, players, coaches, and local media, the ends didn't justify the means.

Now, how do you pick a replacement? I am not going to claim to know who is available and can do what needs to be done. But whoever it is, the following needs to happen:

1) The fan base needs to support the team, even though they will be terrible for 2 years. The program is decimated. The new coach must cultivate support, but support for an approach where they will take second tier recruits, keep them in the program for four years and make them better, and get to the level of a VCU within two years. That takes time.

2) The coach must institute an offensive system that relies on ball movement, systematic cutting, and tough defense and rebounding. You can't out-talent, so out execute.

3) Schedule VCU, U of R, ODU, Mason, etc, and beat them. Own the Commonwealth.

4) Recruits will come with NCAA tournament success.

Viva El Guapo

Fantastic write-up

First things first: I'm willing to bet that Weaver tried to let Seth know before he issued the press conference, and Seth dismissed him and said he was too busy to come in til later (something that happened a lot between the two, he was notorious for being dismissive and rude to Weaver. You don't treat your boss like that). At that point: Weaver pulled rank and did what he did. People are whining about how it was handled, and at face value, it wasn't good. But I'm sure there's more to it. That being said: I'll reserve judgement on the whole thing. He's gone. We're moving on. End of story.

Second thing. I can't tell you how much it bothers me that ESPN thinks we should be happy to be "relevant" because we're a football school, while on the other side of their mouth they are singing the praises of UNC football and how they might be the next national championship dark horse. Every powerhouse starts somewhere, and isn't that what sports is supposed to be about? A team that finds the right coach, the right fit, and the right formula to become great? What truly bothers me is that our students and fans listen to this vitriolic rhetoric and echo their sentiments. Have some faith. VT is a big school in a great conference, and we have some dough. Not quite SEC dough, but we're doing alright. All we need is a young coach looking to make a name for himself, who's driven by that ambition. Not a big name that's made it and is just looking to fluff his ego at a new school. I'm on the "get that young guy" bandwagon...because then they are as desperate for success as our team is. They do it together. THAT'S what Shaka is all about...he was an underdog WITH his team. Also...we are NOT getting Shaka...but there are plenty of other fantastic young coaches out there.

Anyways...have some faith in what is possible for VT athletics....we could very well have a fantastic basketball team. Other sports have done it in our athletic dept. Why not bball?

@scobeard

38-0 bro