Sliding Doors, Alternative Futures and the Mike Young Hire

Whit Babcock could have gone many different directions in 2019, and he chose the dude from Wofford. His decision could end up altering Tech basketball for the foreseeable future.

[Mark Umansky]

Mike Young is an excellent basketball coach. Not an excellent mid-major basketball coach. Not someone who succeeds despite low expectations for his program. Not a good coach "in spite of program flaws" or even a good coach within the ACC. No, Mike Young is one of the best basketball coaches in America.

The list above is long and quite distinguished. Longtime stalwarts like Bob Huggins, Mark Few, Leonard Hamilton, Lon Kruger and Kelvin Sampson are on it, alongside power brokers like Juwan Howard, Shaka Smart, Chris Holtmann and Scott Drew. USC's Andy Endfield, Alabama's Nate Oats are on there, as are a few guys who will surely come calling in the next season or two β€” anyone notice what Darian DeVries and Porter Moser are doing at Drake and Loyola-Chicago?

And then, nestled at the bottom, is Young. The only other ACC head man on the list, the former Wofford lifer who turned a hollowed out Virginia Tech program into one of his own making.

Young acclimated to Blacksburg easily, became The People's Coachβ„’ in his first post-game press conference and never looked back. In fact, the ease in which he endeared himself to Hokie Nation almost does his accomplishments a disservice. Tech fans learned to love their new dad so quickly that they forgot the healthy amount of skepticism that came with Young's hire just months prior.

And now, as his squad outperforms every expectation, it's easy to forget how dire things felt between Texas A&M offering Buzz Williams a contract (March 30, 2019) and the Hokies officially announcing Young's arrival (April 7). Names flew, rumors ran rampant and blind speculation bombarded messages boards with such intensity you'd have thought another cake vs pie debate had sprung up.

The process itself is so fascinating to look back on. In 2014 Babcock took just four days between firing James Johnson and hiring Williams, announcing the decision to part ways with Johnson on a Monday and agreeing to terms with Buzz on the following Friday. It was a masterful job by Babcock, who showed himself as a Little Finger-esq string puller, someone with a plan that no one else can see.

So as the days dragged on after Williams' departure, Tech fans raised their eyebrows. If Whit could get a proven, big-name coach to take over the flaming crater that used to be known as the Hokie basketball program, what's the hold up?

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