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How Will Buzz's Departure Affect Marquette?

Golden Eagles search for a new coach after Williams heads to Virginia Tech.

Days like these are always tough for fans as they’re left scratching their head and wondering just why their coach decided to leave.

And for Marquette fans, it feels awfully familiar.

After back-to-back Elite Eight appearances for the Golden Eagles, a 17-14 season was not even close to expected, especially from a team that was picked to win the Big East Conference in the preseason.

So Buzz Williams decided to hit the road to Blacksburg, Va. to become the next head coach at Virginia Tech.

This may have come to a shock for many Marquette fans, but not me.  At least not the idea of it, but the timing was somewhat unexpected.

In college basketball, and most sports for that matter, head coaches will leave their team for a better one with a vacancy while their current team is at the top.  For Marquette and Buzz Williams, that had been for the last couple of years.

Marquette had made the NCAA Tournament eight consecutive years prior to this year, with three straight years with at least a Sweet 16 game.

But after not only failing to make the NCAA Tournament but also the NIT, it seems like a peculiar time for Williams to move on.

So the big question is, why did he leave?

To me, the answer is pretty simple.  Who wouldn’t want to be coaching in the ACC right now?

The Atlantic Coach Conference might be the best it’s ever been with the prime newcomers of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and will only get better when Louisville arrives next season.

And even though the Hokies (9-22, 2-16 ACC) struggled last season, there is nothing that tells me Buzz can’t turn things around and have just as much success as he did in Milwaukee.

There is no question the ACC is on the rise and the Big East is nowhere near what it once was, so from Williams’ perspective, this doesn’t seem like a bad move.

There might be a couple of tough years ahead for Buzz, but I don’t feel the same way for Marquette.

Freshman star Deonte Burton has already said he is staying and this Golden Eagles squad is loaded with young guards to join Juan Anderson and Steve Taylor Jr. among others. Not to mention to 4-star recruits in 6-foot 5-inch guard Ahmed Hill and 6-foot 6-inch small forward Sandy Cohen arriving next season.

Marquette is left in a peculiar position though.

The Golden Eagles have an interim Athletic Director, Bill Chords, and President Rev. Scott R. Pilarz is resigning at the end of the season, which could make hiring a profile head coach difficult.

Early reports are saying Marquette will look towards former UCLA head coach Ben Howland. Howland has been to three Final Fours and coached many NBA players including guys like Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook.

For that reason I think Howland would make a perfect fit for Marquette with the many talented guards and the smaller, less paint-oriented forwards.  I’m not saying that the Marquette guards are anywhere near as good as those three guys, but the styles seem to fit pretty well.

After all, this is a Marquette program used to winning and after going to 8 straight NCAA Tournaments; I would expect nothing less than yet another appearance with a talented team next season.