Feb. 10, 2006
Obviously, one cannot be shocked with what transpired at Missouri. It has been a soap opera there. There has been no bigger supporter of Quin Snyder than yours truly.
It was by mutual agreement between the school and Snyder that he leave his position. Snyder thought it was best to step down immediately so the kids would not be caught up with the constant questioning of his status.
I have followed his career from his collegiate days as a player at Duke and observed him very closely in his role as an assistant under one of the great teachers of all time, Mike Krzyzewski. If there was one guy who, in my heart, was going to be a star in the coaching profession, it was Snyder.
Why did I feel that way? I loved his passion, enthusiasm and excitement for the game that we all love. I admired his outstanding communication skills and his boyish charm that seemed to be a natural for dealing with the modern-day athlete.
Why did this situation deteriorate? It is very simple: Quin, like many coaches -- including yours truly when I was working the sideline on the collegiate level at Detroit -- feels he can change any kid who might have a problem.
Quin's recruitment of Ricky Clemons, a player with a checkered past, created a nightmare. The Tigers, Snyder and his staff couldn't recover from all the negativity that transpired during Clemons' days on the Missouri campus. The coach and staff did not use good judgment in the evaluation process, but one has to understand the heart and the caring that come from within Quin's personality. He genuinely felt he could make Clemons a better player and better person as well.
The snowball effect with the dismantling of assistant coaches by the administration over the chaos created by the Clemons situation became too much to handle.
Obviously, the success of any program is dictated by recruiting, and this could not be an asset in the battles that take place.
Missouri will move on as Melvin Watkins, who coached at Charlotte and Texas A&M, will take over. Quin has a chance now to start with a clean slate in a different situation.
Snyder, I firmly believe, will learn from this experience as he is extremely bright, possesses a law degree and, let me tell you, the cream will rise. Nothing has changed in my belief that he can make it on the coaching sideline. He has knowledge, personality, work ethic and -- just like so many in the past who had to bounce back when hit with adversity -- I believe his training under Coach K at Duke and working in this tough, tough situation will have him prepared when the opportunity presents itself.
It is always sad to see someone you admire and respect have to deal with the pressure of trying to survive in this competitive coaching environment. Believe me, I know what he is going through mentally as I will never forget Nov. 8, 1979, when the Pistons' owner, Bill Davidson, knocked on my door and gave me the ziggy.
Snyder will find out who his genuine friends and supporters are now. You start questioning everything you have done, but as in my case and many others, Quin will say it is a small part of life.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.