The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

Gary Roberts Wednesdays - Mark Few

Posted by Blake Murphy on March 19, 2008

Gary Roberts Wednesdays is a feature submitted every week by Stu Wilkinson.

College basketball coaches are, for the most part, sleazy. Just a few days ago, Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg, while making the case for his team to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, told us that you had to be “certifiably insane” to not think his team was one of the top 65 squads in the nation. Mr. Greenberg almost certainly knows that the number of teams that get at-large invitations to participate in the Tournament is not 65. In fact, it’s about half of that, plus or minus three. This type of deliberate manipulation of the public is the norm for high-level college coaches, because, in the immortal words of HBO’s “The Wire,” they are career-minded motherfuckers. Not Mark Few.

Mark Few, unlike most non-BCS coaches who run to the big bucks and bigger spotlights of BCS schools as soon as their team makes a run in the NCAA Tournament (Bill Self, Bruce Pearl, the now defunct Stan Heath), has stuck it out at Gonzaga. He’s in his ninth year as head coach of my Zags, and guess how many NCAA Tournament bids he’s collected in those years? You got it, nine. How many bids has North Carolina had in that same period? Seven. UCLA? Seven. Duke? Nine, but they’re Duke.

Under Mark Few, Gonzaga has had an absolutely mind-blowing run of success. On ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” on Monday, Tony Kornheiser credited Gonzaga with starting the “mid-major” movement in college basketball, proving how much Few has meant to the Zags. Gonzaga is consistently ranked in top 25 polls, and they’re also able to schedule great non-conference games against impressive opponents despite the fact that they’re in the freaking WCC. NBA legends such as Dan Dickau, Ronny Turiaf, and Adam Morrison have played for Few. Josh Heytvelt, who was caught with shrooms and weed (see Figure 1-1) in his car in February of 2007, has obviously turned his life around thanks to Few and is primed to join those illustrious names in the NBA in a couple of years. Mark Few has the resume of a BCS conference coach, not some schlub in Spokane.

Few’s success has led to many offers from bigger schools, many of them willing to give him more than the paltry $250,000 he makes every year at Gonzaga. USC, Virginia, and Indiana have all been turned down directly by Marky Mark, according to the Google results of a “Mark Few turn down” search. He’s bucked the trend of successful non-BCS coaches jumping ship the minute a bigger school comes calling and that is really what makes him so great. Mark is truly an anomaly in a coaching world full of Kelvin Sampsons and Seth Greenbergs, and for that reason he should be deified by the media, the fans, and the Catholic Church.

Inside The Numbers
9 NCAA Tournament appearances
3 trips to the Sweet Sixteen
2 first team All-Americans
4 year home winning streak
80% winning percentage
$1,000,000 raised for the American Cancer Society

Gary Roberts Wednesdays is a feature submitted every week by Stu Wilkinson.

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