Is Tony Woods Saga Finally Over?

Posted: April 18, 2011 by robjoneslyes in Louisville Basketball, Posted by Rob Jones

If you have followed the Sports Buzz radio show since the days of WLOU, you know the situation with possible Wake Forest transfer Tony Woods was a hot topic of discussion late last summer. 90% 0f Louisville fans wanted no part of a guy who had only averaged 4 points and 3 rebounds as a sophomore big-man off the bench for the Demon Deacons.

It wasn’t so much for his play on the court, but for his actions off of it. Over the Labor Day weekend in 2010, Woods got into a altercation with the mother of his child in which she suffered a broken spine. Woods pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault on a female and was kicked off the Wake Forest team.

Due to his relationship with former assistant coach Tim Fuller who coached at Wake recently, Louisville became the likeliest destination for the big-man looking for a new place to play. This news sprung an outcry from many Louisville supporters who felt the program didn’t need another black-eye after the Rick Pitino sex scandal and loss of numerous recruits for a variety of reasons. Why would Pitino have to be so desperate to take a man who was fresh off pleading guilty to a charge of putting his hands on a woman in the wrong way?

Reports of nearly 30 teams inquiring about the services of Woods then surfaced. Not just any teams, too.  Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgetown, Auburn, Xavier, Cincinnati among others had expressed interest. It then became a matter of keeping up with the Jones’ in the recruiting circles. Do you pass up on a guy that has talent just so he can go to an in-state or conference rival? It would be a shame to see another coach give Woods a second chance and watch him succeed elsewhere.

After being bantered about at other places, Woods decided to follow Fuller to Louisville with a strict set of guidelines set by Pitino that had to be met before he even dreamed of being a part of the team. When fans saw what was laid out by Pitino, a sense of acceptance was felt.

“Why the hell would we ever take this guy?” turned into “Might as well give him a second chance”.

At the same time, somewhat of a black cloud followed the newfound acceptance of Woods. Everyone knew they didn’t want him, but couldn’t really say that because it would look bad on the team. In all cases, fans may not like a guy on their team, but it’s impossible not to support someone wearing their respective teams’ jersey. An outcry wasn’t going to do any good.

I can’t name one instance in the recent history of college sports where a coach didn’t take a guy he thought had the chance to be a contributing part of his team because the fans disagreed.  there have been countless instances of guys fans knew weren’t going to work out, but held out hope that the coach knew something that they didn’t and would prove them wrong. Woods is the perfect representation of that.

Now, news has come out that Woods will be headed to another school after the departure of Fuller to Missouri. After finally accepting the fact that Woods would be a part of the team with all of his faults, he’s gone. So is the weird world of college hoops in the present day. However, now the most taboo subject in Cardinal basketball can finally be spoken about.

It goes without saying that Louisville is one of the best programs of all-time. There is no reason they should take a bench guy from a mid-level ACC team regardless of how tall he is and how much he “fills a need”. From an outsiders perspective, it had to be laughable seeing Pitino take on another PR nightmare after what he went through last summer. It was a risk/reward type of situation where the risk outweighed the reward on a Star Jones/Naomi Cambell level.

Woods had the potential to give Pitino solid minutes in the post in the next couple of seasons. He also had the potential to be one of the most collasal mistakes he has made in his coaching career. I understand “big-man insurance” was needed with the possibility of Terrence Jennings bolting for the pros, but a line needed to be drawn somewhere. Especially for a program in desperate need of some good karma.

If Tony Woods did anything for us, it was showing how much blind loyalty fans will show for their team and how desperate some coaches get when they have a lack of talent in a certain spot. It also showed that an uproar of opposition by a fan base for a potential incoming player means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Wherever Tony Woods ends up, I wish him good luck. Everyone deserves a second chance to reconcile mistakes that have been made. I’m just glad it isn’t at Louisville.

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