Following UConn’s 93-60 win over Louisville Tuesday night in the NCAA Women’s National Championship Game, Huskies Coach Geno Auriemma was quoted as saying, “The fact that I tied Pat Summitt’s record puts you in the category of the greatest women’s basketball coach who ever lived.” The quote came in a story from Associated Press reporter Doug Feinberg, and if that is truly what Geno said, he may have some explaining to do.
“The fact that I tied Pat Summitt’s record,”(8 NCAA Titles) “puts you,”(Meaning Geno himself) “in the category of the greatest women’s basketball coach who ever lived.” Wow…..that’s like Coach “Bear” Bryant claiming he was the king of college football, when he won his 300th career game, or Coach Pat Summitt herself proclaiming she was the greatest basketball coach of all time when she won her 1000th game. But…Coach Bryant didn’t and neither did Pat.
No one has ever accused Geno of having a lot of class. He is the perfect antithesis of everything that Coach Summitt represents to the people of Tennessee. He is the Darth Vader to Pat’s Luke Skywalker. Geno is the cowboy villain in the black hat, to Pat’s Roy Rogers. It was his comments about some of the athletes that Coach Summitt had recruited at Tennessee a few years back that prompted Pat to proclaim her Lady Vols would not schedule UConn in the regular season anymore. The relationship between the two coaching icons has been very cool since then.
In all fairness to him, I personally believe that, as hard as it may have been for him, he was trying to compliment Coach Summitt. He may have just used the wrong words. What he needs to consider is this; what Pat Summitt did for women’s basketball goes much further than wins or championships. She was the ultimate pioneer and warrior for the game, more responsible than anyone for the increasing popularity of the sport. Geno will likely surpass her record for NCAA Titles. He may even pass her career wins total before he retires, but he will never be to women’s college basketball what Coach Pat Summitt has become.
First of all, he was wrong when he said he tied the record. To my knowledge, Geno Auriemma has never scored a point in a UConn basketball game. His players won the games; he just coached them. Granted, coaches get credit in the wins department and they also are credited with losses. As most successful coaches will tell you, they get too much credit for wins and they take too much heat for losses. Actually, the team his Huskies demolished 93-60 in the championship game did him a huge favor. Louisville upset defending National Champ and top seed Baylor in the “Sweet 16.” That big upset may have saved UConn from an equally whop-sided loss on Tuesday night.
Geno Auriemma obviously doesn’t care about making a lot of friends. He is a great coach and has done a lot of good for womens’ hoops. He just needs to learn a big lesson in humility.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).