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Hokie Nation a-“Buzz” over hiring of Williams

Buzz Williams leaves marquette and Big East for Virginia Tech and the ACC

Buzz Williams leaves marquette and Big East for Virginia Tech and the ACC

The internet rumors began swirling Friday morning when John Feinstein reported that Virginia Tech was making a big push to hire Buzz Williams away from the golden eagles. At the time, it was just another rumor. And then, at 2:33 p.m., EDT, Yahoo’s Pat Forde Tweeted the following:

Pat Forde's Tweet about Virginia Tech's hiring of Buzz Williams

Pat Forde’s Tweet about Virginia Tech’s hiring of Buzz Williams

Boom. Shaka. Laka.

And just like that, Virginia Tech’s basketball program had a pulse. A strong pulse. Buzz hasn’t even coached a game and already the fan base is in a tizzy. Under the circumstances, this is about the best hire you could hope for considering the Hokies have finished dead last in the ACC three years running.

Williams, 41, has been a head basketball coach for seven seasons; one with new orleans and the last six at marquette, where he compiled an impressive 139-69 overall record, and 69-39 in conference play. He took marquette to the NCAA tournament five straight years and went a combined 8-5, having advanced to the regional finals in 2012-13.

So why come to Virginia Tech given his success at marquette? Well, the ACC is a better, more high profile conference than what’s left of the Big East. And, then there was the unexpected resignation of athletics director Larry Williams back in December that caught Williams off guard. Add to that the equally unexpected resignation of university president Fr. Scott R. Pilarz three month prior, and you have to ask yourself what’s going on in Milwaukee? Both the president and AD unexpectedly resign after only two years on the job? Weird.

Of course, Virginia Tech is getting a new president this summer and its current AD has been on the job for about 35 days. Though, to be fair, the circumstances are much different in Blacksburg.

So, what does Buzz Williams bring to Virginia Tech besides another bald coach (our third straight, by the way)? Well, he brings a big personality, recruiting prowess, name recognition, NCAA tournament appearances (he’s been to five since the Hokies last danced), and… dare we say it… hope? (Hope is a dangerous thing, remember?)

We’ll learn more and have more for you in the days and weeks to come, but in the meantime, go follow Coach Buzz on Twitter and welcome him to the Hokie Nation:

Virginia Tech head basketball coach Buzz Williams on Twitter

Virginia Tech head basketball coach Buzz Williams on Twitter

Lastly, the official “Welcome to Virginia Tech, Buzz!” event is Monday, March 26, at 6 p.m. (subject to change) at the Cassell and it’s open to the public. So, be there!

From HokieSports.com:

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock has announced the hiring of Buzz Williams as the new head men’s basketball coach for the Hokies.

“I am extremely excited about welcoming Buzz Williams to the Hokie Nation,” Babcock said. “Buzz is a proven winner who has earned his way up through the ranks with a strong track record of success. I am confident he will energize our fan base and help make Virginia Tech Basketball competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I know he will recruit at the highest level.”

The school will hold a formal press conference on Monday, March 24 at 6 p.m. (potential for slight change), on the arena floor of Cassell Coliseum. The event will be open to the general public and students and admission is free of charge. The press conference will be live streamed on hokiesports.com. For more information on the press conference, please log on to hokiesports.com.

“It’s never easy to leave a great school like Marquette, where I spent seven wonderful years, six as the head coach,” Williams said. “But this is a special situation to work at a place like Virginia Tech. I’ve heard tremendous things about this terrific institution and this is an outstanding opportunity to build a program. My family and I look forward to becoming a part of this great university and community, and taking on the challenges associated in succeeding in the ACC.”

Williams comes to the Hokies following six seasons as the head coach of the Marquette Golden Eagles. At Marquette, Williams had a record of 139-69 and led the team to five NCAA appearances, including a trip to the regional finals in the 2012-13 season, the same season the team won the Big East Conference regular season title. Williams led the Golden Eagles to a 69-39 Big East Conference record during his time in Milwaukee. Six Marquette players have made it to the NBA during William’s tenure.

Williams was an assistant at Marquette in the 2007-08 season. MU concluded the year 25-10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.

His coaching career has included stints as an assistant, associate head and head coach. He has been at the NCAA Division I level for 19 seasons, and 2013-14 was his seventh campaign as a head coach. Williams has recruited and coached over 20 players who have earned all-conference accolades, including two league players of the year, two conference freshmen of the year and four Associated Press All-Americans.

Williams arrived in Milwaukee after serving for one season as the head coach at the University of New Orleans. He guided the Privateers to a 14-win campaign in 2006-07 and his roster featured Bo McCalebb, the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. UNO claimed fourth place in the Sun Belt’s Western Division and advanced to the league tournament quarterfinals. The squad claimed as many victories on the road that season as it had in the previous three seasons combined. His recruiting class for the 2007-08 season was ranked in the top-50 nationally by HoopScoopOnline.com.

Prior to UNO, Williams served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M for two seasons (2004-05 and 2005-06) under head coach Billy Gillispie. Both of his recruiting classes with the Aggies were ranked among the best in the nation and featured some of the top-ranked talent at the prep level. The squad made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 25 years in 2005-06 and the previous team posted the top turnaround in the nation, improving its win total in 2004-05 by 14 games compared to 2003-04.

Williams spent four seasons (2000-01 through 2003-04) at Colorado State, serving as an assistant the first three seasons before being promoted to associate head coach in 2003-04. Two of his recruiting classes were ranked among the 40-best in the nation, including the 2003 group, which was tabbed No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference. Colorado State made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 13 years during his tenure and he was named one of the top assistants in the country by HoopScoopOnline.com.

The Van Alstyne, Texas, native was previously an assistant at Northwestern State (1999-2000), Texas A&M- Kingsville (1998-99) and Texas-Arlington (1994-98). He earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Oklahoma City University in 1994 before completing his master’s work in the same field at Texas A&M-Kingsville in 1999.

Williams is married to the former Corey Norman and the couple has two daughters, Zera and Addyson, and two sons, Calvin and Mason.

Williams succeeds James Johnson, who was relieved of his duties on March 17.

For updates on Virginia Tech men’s basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter Follow @VT_MBBall

This post was written by:

- who has written 235 posts on Tech Hoops.

Cope is a Virginia Tech graduate and veteran sports journalist with a career spanning television, radio, and newspapers. He's the recipient of three Virginia Press Association awards for his writing and design, as well as a CASE Gold Award for his feature writing. Cope has covered the Hokies since 1993 for various local and national news organizations. He's been with TechHoops.com since 2007.

Contact the author | Visit the author's website | Follow Cope on Twitter

  • FruitpietheMagician

    Well at least he looks like Seth, so I think it’s a good hire!

  • danram

    Don’t think we could have hoped for any better. Outstanding hire!

  • Blue Collar Hokie

    i was friggin floored when i saw the news. whit aint playing around. seven years is a long contract but hopefully it’ll pay dividends.

    i got a glass of maker’s and ginger in my hand and good feeling about this babcock guy.

    when does the bball schedule come out? i flippin pumped!

  • King

    Hell yeah!!!

  • Drew

    All I got to say is the Nintendo 64 kid ain’t go nothing on me when I found out this news. Fan freaking tastic hire.

  • Chris

    Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be able to land someone of this caliber. This is huge. Beyond huge, actually.

    Let’s be real here. Buzz had had more success in the last six years at Marquette than we’ve arguably had in the entire history of our program. This move signals that Babcock is serious about wanting to make Virginia Tech a legitimate basketball program. If you’re going to shell out that kind of money for a guy like Buzz, you better believe he’s going to be given the resources to succeed.

    Honestly, this is the best thing to happen to this program in a long, long time. Drink up!

  • RKinRoanoke

    Not on our initial radar because no one thought we could get someone like this.
    I bet he crushes the press conference pep rally. Hope the students turn out and pack the Cassel.

  • Chris_atl

    While I still think JJ deserved another year, if Whit knew we had a good shot at Williams I certainly understand the move.

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