An Open Letter to Buzz Williams

Dear Buzz,

Wait, is that too casual? Mr. Williams? Coach? Dad? I'll call you whatever you prefer to go by, as long as you promise to actually show up and coach the Virginia Tech basketball team.

Forgive me if I sound a little skeptical, it's just that four days ago I was drafting a column that detailed realistic candidates for the men's basketball vacancy (a list that you were not a part of), and you took the job a day later. Did you kill a piece chock full of jokes about Mick Cronin's Napoleon Complex? Yes, but let's not get off on the wrong foot. I'm not mad that I had to scratch the column, it just still doesn't seem real that you actually agreed to coach the Hokies.

I're Buzz Williams! You're the guy who won 153 games in just seven years! You consistently made the NCAA Tournament in what was once the toughest conference in the country!

Basically what I'm trying to say is that your career up to this point has been a lot of this:

While the team you're about to take over is a lot more of this:

But don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that you're coming. When I heard rumors that you were going to leave Marquette for Tech, I told anyone who would listen that there was no way it would happen. When credible reporters like ESPN's Jeff Goodman broke the news on Friday? I screamed more than a Virginia fan at Lacoste sale (we make UVa jokes here, they're preppy and'll get it).

Anyway, on to the more formal introductions. My name is Brian Marcolini, I make jokes and write open letters to people who don't usually read them. This is The Key Play (or THE KEY PLAY during football'll get it), the best damn Virginia Tech sports website on the Internet and a place where you'll be killed with kindness. One piece of advice though: whatever you do, please, for the love of God, don't chime in on the cake/pie debate. Don't ask, you really don't want to know.

The reason I'm writing you today, the day of the press conference pep rally held in your honor, is that I want you to know what it is exactly that you're getting into when it comes to the mindset of Virginia Tech basketball fans.

Current state of the fan base: Have you ever adopted a pet from an animal shelter? You know it's had a rough life before you took it home, and as much as you want to make them feel comfortable and loved, only time will make Buddy stop peeing himself every time the vacuum turns on. That's exactly where Tech hoops fans are emotionally. We've been hurt, we're hesitant to trust, and we may bite you if you come too close. Despite all of that, all we need is a little bit of love and attention to come around. That may sound harsh, but look at the last 20 years. Yeah, it hasn't been a great run.

Current expectations: Well, all I really know is that we're tired of finishing last. After that, I think you pretty much have the leeway to have whatever kind of year possible. You know what? You could finish in last place and the fans wouldn't sour on you. It's like being the quarterback after Grant Noel, no matter what things are looking up (it's a football'll get it).

Future expectations: The more you win, the higher expectations are going to be. Let's just start with consistently going to the NCAA Tournament. Hell, what am I saying, let's start with going to ONE NCAA Tournament. If you can do that, and fans start to complain just pull a "REMEMBER WHAT YOU WERE WHEN I FOUND YOU?!?!" on them and walk away. I promise we'll have no comeback.

Are there any players in which the fans are irrationally attached to? Short answer: no. Long answer: ehhhhhhhh, not really. Longer answer: you basically have carte blanche to do whatever you want with the lineup and no one will really question you for at least a year. Everyone is seriously just that happy that you're here.

Do the fans expect your jacket lining to match your tie? Tech's colors are maroon and orange, no one expects you to ever match.

Do I have any specific expectations of you? Well I'm glad that you asked.

I only have two, and they're quite simple:

  1. Start a coaching feud. Just look at one of the other 14 coaches in the conference and kick up a pure, unadulterated, hate-fest. I'm talking thinly veiled press conference remarks, on-court eye rolling contests, handshakes so quick that they'd make Lane Kiffin feel offended, you know, the usual stuff. Tech fans need a team to despise in basketball (other than Virginia), and I think your actions can set them on the proper course. It doesn't matter which coach you pick, but if it's Mark Gottfried I will love you forever.
  2. Put the soul back in Cassell. I love Cassell Coliseum. Whenever anyone talks about tearing it down or building another facility elsewhere, I get irrationally angry. The place is built to be one of the loudest places in the ACC, the fans just need a little help. It's not one of those fancy, corporate stadiums with luxury boxes and padded chairs that encourage sitting. It's one with wooden seats and built in a way that even fans with the worst seats in the house are practically on top of the court. I promise, as much as people may be hating on you now, if you get Cassell rocking again you won't regret the decision to come to Blacksburg.

As fans we're happy you're here. Good luck, and I hope you crush it. You know that we'll be watching.

Contact the editor about this post anytime by phone: (703) 646-1931 or mail: 3057 Nutley St Suite 633, Fairfax, Virginia 22031.


I missed the cake/pie debate. Should I even ask?

Edit: Retraction. Though I love me some apple pie.

Oh God please no. Let's not open this thing again.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

Time for a history lesson.

The Key Play was created by the almighty hand of Joe. He delivered unto us these commandments. At one point, the Almighty Joe was surveying his creation, and saw that it was good. He thought to himself, in his infinite wisdom, it could be better. And thusly, he sought opinions of his loyal subjects. In his survey he asked many questions of the people. The final question he gave was "Cake or Pie?". One could only answer cake, or pie. The question could not be left unanswered. Thus, the holy war was begun.

I dunno, it may just be me, but it seems as though there is a sizable pie majority here.

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.


Don't give up, don't ever give up ~ Jim Valvano

Don't let the vocality of #TeamPie fool you. There is a sizable #TeamCake contingency. There is also a small, but very dedicated #TeamCookie contingency, waiting.


I'm already going to Hell. At this point it's pretty much "Go big or go home."

I'm so glad there's another soul here who doesn't discriminate when it comes to sugar.

legs to both of you

"I like to hit a home run early" ~ Whit "knows how to create a Buzz" Babcock

Cookies?! No. Pie! Yum.
Go Buzz - to infinity (or the NCAA's) and beyond!



Doesn't matter what you eat with it...except Fn cheese!

We put the K in Kwality

Walk it Out! Hell, he's gonna boot it out of Cassell with moves like that!

Brian, this was classic, I couldn't stop laughing, keep it up and you'll get a moniker also, perhaps the
Comic Relief Whiz moniker.

Great Letter, Ship it!!

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

This is one of the greatest comments I have ever seen on here!

There are wolves and there are sheep, I am the sheep dog

One piece of advice though: whatever you do, please, for the love of God, don't chime in on the cake/pie debate. Don't ask, you really don't want to know.

Woah, woah, woah. This is a crucial piece of information that TKP readers need to know to see if we've made the correct hire.



Nice letter.

1- I'd love to see VT play in a postseason tournament next season. Definitely by year 2.

2- I'd love to see students in my field of vision when I tune in to a game. Whit and Buzz can make this happen.

3- Do it with class. #HokiesRespect, right?

4- #JustWinBaby (I guess that could go against 3 in some ways...but whatever)

5- #TeamPie

Row Z forever.

Whoa... small world.

Viva El Guapo


No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

There goes that "Napoleon" complex (from another thread)...

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

Sounds like its a done deal for 6 years.

Lets see if VCU can pull another rabbit out of their hats with a coaching hire. I'll be honest, I'll be glad to have him out of the state. Gives Buzz far more breathing room on the recruiting trail.

"Does it get any better than Thursday Night in Blacksburg?" - Reece Davis
"People who like to brag about how smart they are, are never as smart as they claim." - Colin Cowherd

That account has been active for just 17 hours... I'm skeptical of their "insider" status, but...

I think hes from Wisconsin. Was thinking he would hold out for when Bo Ryan retired at Wisconsin (Or duke or Syracuse for when those coaches retire)


I will enjoy listening to VCU fans cry in Richmond for the next month or so while I laugh and brag about Buzz. Man I hope this is true.

In Sam Rogers we trust.

You should've seen me after you left Sharkey's on Friday. I think I got the alert that we hired Buzz about 5 minutes after you left and immediately took a shot. Didn't care about the games the rest of the day, I was just excited that we have an actual basketball coach.

Rip his freaking head off!

Did you get a Buzz?


Those Long Island Iced Teas... They'll get after ya

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson

Considering Shaka was born in Madison, Wisconsin, Marquette may have some pull here if he still has family in Wisconsin.

Rob Peterson
Charlie/Hotel Company
Class of 1999

Kind of happy we won't have to recruit against him as much locally and even happier that he might not be at Wake Forest.

Yeah, but the potential of games against VCU won't be as appealing unless the next coach is just as good.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

I agree with this. As much as I joke about the whole town being bandwagon fans and VCU students being annoying hipsters, I would not want to see Smart leave and utterly devastate the newly developed sports enthusiasm of the Richmond area. I cherish our pride and love of all things Virginia Tech. VCU is starting to develop something like that for their basketball team. It would be a shame to see it cut down in its infancy. Besides, I want to beat them when they are good, not when they are a shell of there former selves.

Never make eye contact while eating a banana.

My wife and I are both Hokies, and she has a master's from VCU. So our loyalties have been simple: we're VT fans through and through, but when it comes to basketball, we're VCU fans. We also live in Richmond, so we have seen first-hand what the Havoc bandwagon has meant to the city. If Shaka leaves, and VCU falls back to mediocrity, it will be a sad, sad thing for the commonwealth.

I think Buzz can make a monumental impact by reeling in one specific recruit: Thon Maker. If you don't know who he is, here's his highlight tape:

What makes me think we can get him? He from Martinsville, VA, less than 80 miles away from Blacksburg.

This would be the recruit of all recruits and give Buzz all the mojo he needs for years. The #1 kid in the country, potentially the next Kevin Durant and he's in our backyard. I don't care if he's a 1 and done, Buzz should be doing everything in his power to get this kid.

Reminds me of me when I was a sophomore in high school. Except the dribbling, jumping, shooting, shot blocking and other necessary basketball ability. Details... Minor details.

*I mean, make me 6" taller than everyone else and give me incredible basketball talent and I could probably do better. It's not all that impressive.* Sarcastica

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

I was in the same boat, including my 6' height and 3" vertical leap....and lack of speed.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

too skinny - how the hell is he going to convert to TE? He'll get killed ....

Look at the big picture. What we could do, is convert a tight end into him.

All the Bucky Hodges to the basketball team

Rob Peterson
Charlie/Hotel Company
Class of 1999

My son and I watched his highlights 2 mths ago.
Very impressive stuff.
We can wish, right?

Seriously though, even if only for one year, Thon Maker could do to our basketball program what Michael Vick did for our football program. Even if it's still not likely, it's incredible to think we even have a chance to bring this kid in now that we have Buzz, whereas just a week ago I would have thought even trying to go after him would just be a huge waste of our time.

Good point that you mentioned 1 year; this kid has overall #1 pick and NBA all-star written all over him.
His speed, his jumper and of course his height make this kid look like he could make the jump to the NBA after his sophomore season...of high school!

"When you're green, you're growing. When you're ripe, you rot." -Ray Kroc

This kid is unreal. But the only red, or rather orange, flag I can see is that he's 7' tall and pretty frail, however freakishly athletic. But I can see him winding up like a D-rose, being plagued by injuries and ending his career sooner than expected. I think though that's an issue once he's in the NBA. Just hoping he stays healthy until then and does bulk up like he should. Lets get after it.

Doesn't matter how, just Stick It In.

Could be a 2 and done by then depending on if the NBA changes their rule anytime soon.

Rip his freaking head off!

I think we should be OK with some recruits being 1 or 2 and done. We want to bring that caliber of talent here, right? Go get some of it, just not all our players as then your starting all over again all the time, like Kentucky has been lately.

Can you just imaging VT being in these conversations and consistently placing guys in the NBA like that every once in a while? Awesome! The train would just keep on coming.

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I agree. Build a team led by upperclassmen and have 1 maybe 2 high profile freshman every once in a while to push the team to the next level


One word....Gentry-fied.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

This guy does fit the type of player that Buzz said he wants. Someone who is versatile can pull a rebound down and get it up the court and run different positions given the situation


I sat next to Trevor Thompson at the event. He didn't stand the entire time. Never clapped. And, he didn't even get up to let me go past him - I climbed the seats to get a good seat. He left when Buzz sat down to take questions from the press.

Brandon J. Carroll
Class of 2010

It seems a little strange to me that he would even go to the event...Second thoughts?

“These people are losing their minds. This is beautiful.”

free pizza..

"I like to hit a home run early" ~ Whit "knows how to create a Buzz" Babcock


No college sophomore turns down free food.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

Curiosity and humble pie!

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

Completely the opposite. If he had any second thoughts he would have listened. He was there for any attention directed solely to himself, so that people would say - 'Wow! Trevor Thompson was there!...' Just as with the call to the RT, a desire for attention.

kid reminds me of Manute Bol BUT hes got game!

What a great way to restart the program - go get him Buzz

VT Genes

Today was the love fest. Tomorrow we may hear more about Thompson leaving. I'd like to see him stay.

Francis Updike

Personally, I'd rather have Thompson not change his mind. I don't want a Dwight Howard situation. If you don't want to be here, don't stay. I have no ill will towards this kid and it sounds like there are other high-major programs that want him so it's a all honestly, I think Buzz could recruit a guy with a higher ceiling with his schollie anyways.

Great article Brian, very funny. I caught a little buzz reading it.

Here.. have both.. here's how:

Unless you want Cake in a Pie.. then that will cause an implosion of the earths core. If that happens, The Washington Generals may win multiple games in a row against the Philly 76ers.

Bad report

Rob Peterson
Charlie/Hotel Company
Class of 1999