Roy Williams should be fired, says Roy Williams, who hit rock bottom after North Carolina's first-ever home loss to Clemson on Saturday dropped them to 8-8 on the season and in need of a miracle run to make the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
"We've had some great moments as a coach, and right now I'd say this is my lowest one because losing this game was my fault," Williams said after the overtime loss. "Told them if I die tomorrow or 20 years from now, that'll be the biggest regret I had in 32 years as a coach. Cause these kids really need a win. And their coach let them down today.
"Gotta tell [athletics director] Bubba [Cunningham] he should probably fire me, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea. The coach is supposed to help his kids. I didn't help them very much.''
Williams has never been fired: Five years as head coach of Charles D. Owen High School in Black Mountain, N.C., was followed by 10 years on Dean Smith's staff and 15 years at Kansas. Now, in his 17th season at his alma mater, Williams is leading arguably the worst North Carolina team since the 8-20 team of 2001-02.
What if Bubba Cunningham took Williams' suggestion and fired him? Who might North Carolina target?
Like Kansas, North Carolina should call Jay Wright, Brad Stevens, Mark Few, and Tony Bennett, the four best (potentially attainable) coaches who may listen. None have notable ties to the program, nor have any coached in or near Chapel Hill. Still, program ties and geography are hardly real factors for one of the best jobs in American sports.
As noted by several insiders over the years, Hubert Davis might be the coach-in-waiting. A former Tar Heel, Davis has been on Williams' staff since 2012 and been the primary recruiter for most of North Carolina's top players over the last eight years.
Wes Miller is a 36-year-old former North Carolina player with nine years of Division-I head-coaching experience in the state. His age and lack of high-major experience will — and should — prompt legitimate questions, but he's transformed UNCG from an irrelevant, moribund program into one of the most consistent mid-majors in college basketball. Another former player, Jerry Stackhouse, could be on a short list and we've seen good programs turn to unproven alums in the past, but would Cunningham really hand the keys to a first-time head coach who's proven nothing?
Gregg Marshall and Billy Donovan top the list of non-affiliated coaches below the Wright, Stevens, Few, and Bennett tier. A South Carolina native who win big at Winthrop and has built Wichita State into a mid-major power, Marshall has an annual base salary only $400,000 less than Williams and has turned down great jobs before. He has not, however, turned down a job like North Carolina. And Donovan will return to college basketball eventually, right?
And then four great coaches who might interest North Carolina: Chris Beard, Kevin Willard, Chris Holtmann, and Scott Drew. Drew is the most experienced and proven of the four and has recruited at a high level for more than a decade. And at only 49 years old, could be a 20-year coach if he wins.