The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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U reacts to Giac resignation

By Tony Pizza

Whether you feel the firing of Runnin’ Utes head coach Ray Giacoletti was justified or not, the fact remains that if the Utes don’t beat UNLV on the Rebels’ home floor tonight, this will be Giac’s last day as a Ute.

Make no mistake about it, either. The reactions to Giac’s resignation vary as much as the “real” reason Giacoletti is stepping down after just three seasons at Utah.

The initial reaction of most of the students interviewed was as first-rate as the way Giac and Ute Athletic Director Chris Hill danced around questions at the resignation press conference last Friday. Many students accompanied the word “resignation” with bouncing both of their index and middle fingers on either side of their heads.

The consensus most students came to was that Giacoletti was, in fact, pushed out the door, and the word “resignation” was just a fancy way for the university to save face for itself and a classy head coach who lacked just one thing during his three-year tenure — enough wins to put bodies in the Huntsman Center.

“If you saw in the paper, that (picture) does not look like a guy that was happy about leaving. I think he wanted to stay,” said Jeff Bleak, a senior in mass communication.

When students talked about Giacoletti’s lucrative severance package — which will total somewhere in the ballpark of $700,000 — most people interviewed scrunched their noses like fifth-graders on a tour of a sulfur factory.

It wasn’t surprising to find out how many people actually knew about the coaching situation, but it was slightly astonishing to find out how educated some people were on the matter.

The opinion on whether the resignation — which nearly every person immediately concluded was a firing — was justified or not created two very different opinions.

Students like civil engineering major Ryan Klein and environmental studies freshman Jessica Suddaby favored the immediate dismissal of Giacoletti, and both strongly hoped that Hill would give the coaching vacancy the due diligence a position like that of U head basketball coach deserves.

In the other camp, students like mass communication major Jeff Kendell and Bleak voiced slightly different opinions. Both students agreed that Giacoletti was pushed out the door, no matter what was said at the press conference, and both said Giacoletti should have been given one more year.

It seems Kendell and Bleak both did their research on the subject, too. Kendell pointed out that Giacoletti is just two years removed from an appearance in the Sweet 16, and that one mediocre and one disappointing year do not add up to grounds for removal.

Bleak also pointed out that the Utes’ lineup is made up predominantly of underclassmen. The Utes had just one senior (Ricky Johns) in the starting lineup this year, and will likely have just one (Johnnie Bryant) in the starting lineup next year.

Bleak’s point for bringing this up was a good one, too. Bryant signals the first of Giacoletti’s recruits who will start taking control of the team. Yes, four of the five starters were Giacoletti’s recruits, but to expect freshmen and sophomores to bask in the rays of success may have been a little too unrealistic for those responsible for Giacoletti’s resignation.

That is why most of the people who felt Giacoletti’s situation was handled too impulsively agree that the current head coach should be in place one more year.

“I think these are his recruits that will be starting next year. I think it’s sad to see him go,” Bleak said.

Maybe it isn’t on his own terms, but like it or not, Giacoletti will soon be leaving and the Utes will be rebuilding once again. It might not be such a bad idea for someone to suggest to the new guy to stay away from the Sweet 16 — at least for the first year. The bar has obviously been lowered for U men’s basketball, but not enough to take the pressure off the new guy to succeed. Utah has been built into a mid-major basketball powerhouse, and no matter how the voices at the U vary, they unite in saying, “We expect our basketball team to win.” Thus, the next Runnin’ Utes loss will signal the next chapter in Utah basketball.

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