Mike Montgomery: Traitor!!

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This is Benedict Arnold …

Imagine Mike Krzyzewsi becoming head coach at North Carolina.

Picture Pete Carroll coaching the UCLA Bruins.

Contemplate Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel in the Michigan maize and blue.

Never happen. Nope, Not at all.

Sure, they’re just coaches. And anyone should be able to take any job they want. But after coaching at Duke, USC and managing the Buckeyes, respectively, those guys would never take the same job with their former employer’s most despised rival.

They wouldn’t do if their gigs were more than mere gigs. They are the faces of their teams – their schools even. They embody their university. Call me old fashion – or a stodgy soul, as one story put it – but I still believe in loyalty. I still believe in “representing” those entities that treat you well, and where you achieve success.

That’s why Mike Montgomery should be tried for sports treason.

By now you’ve probably discerned that I’m a Stanford alum, and I’m not the only one whose first thought was, “Turncoat!” when I learned Montgomery – the Cardinal’s all-time winningest coach (18 seasons, 393 wins, four Pac-10 titles, one Final Four) – had agreed to become the head coach at Cal, our most despised rival.

Excuse me while I puke!

Okay, so Mikey needed a job. It’s been two years since he was fired by Golden State with two years remaining on a $10 million deal. So the checks stopped coming in. Not mad at him for wanting to get another gig.

Montgomery was said to be trolling at the Final Four in San Antonio when Cal got hooked.

C’mon, MIke – CAL?!! Indiana had an opening, and I’m sure there’ll be others once the annual ritual of coaching musical chairs begins on Tuesday.

CAL?!!

Stanford made you, Mike! You were just another guy from Montana when the Cardinal hired you in 1986. People said, Who??

The Cardinal gave you a change to prove just how good a coach you were. It gave you a stage and, yes, you rose to it. You gave as much as you received and when you decided to chase your own NBA dream and signed with the Warriors, we wished you well.

Now we wish you nothing but Ls. Lots of them – especially when you’re sitting at the other end of the gym from the team you once coached. Wearing a yellow tie!

You tried to joke it off at your press conference, saying, “I just wanted to feel like there weren’t going to be any explosives or snipers on the way to the Cal office.” Ha Ha.

You also said there’ll be no “welcome wagon” when you and your Bears visit Maples Pavilion next season. Actually, you just might be wrong.

Despite my obvious ire and mini-tirade, I would not be surprised if you were welcomed back. I can actually see you getting a standing O when you step from the locker-room that day. That’s the kind of people we are at Stanford, Mike.

The student section will cheer you. The alums and supporters will show their appreciation.

That’s what Stanford’s all about, Mike.

And then we’ll try to kick your team’s butt. And maybe shower you with icky yellow ties.

Congrats on the new gig, Mike. See you in the fall!

Mike Montgomery speaks at a press conference shortly after being ...

…so is this.
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4 thoughts on “Mike Montgomery: Traitor!!

  1. Just as surreal on the Cal side. To say that Cal fans hated Monty and his illegal, bouncy, Maples court is an understatement. But we needed to start bringing more than rocks to the knife fights that are Pac 10 battles, so we’re all swallowing hard and getting behind him. But hearing him say Go Bears was the weirdest thing in the world.

    Go Bears!

  2. R. Pick says:

    There is precedence for this sort of thing in pro sports, Roger Clemens wearing Yankee Pinstripes; Bill Parcells coaching the Jets and the Cowboys; and Eric Mangini coaching the Jets. Although they aren’t rivals I’m not sure Hawk fans enjoyed Dominique Wilkins wearing Celtics green. And in college, I doubt Kentucky fans are thrilled to see Rick Pitino at Louisville. Pitino didn’t go straight to Louisville from Kentucky, but one has to wonder why he chose that school when surely he was being courted by many big-time schools.

    I don’t recall going straight from one rival to another, but if coach is fired I think his loyalty to that school is severed along with his employment. If Mike Montgomery was an alumnus of Stanford, then yes, he would be a traitor, but as it stands I don’t think he owes the Cardinals anything.

    It’s like breaking off a relationship, you hope she doesn’t end up with someone you don’t get along with or someone you do get along with for that matter, but once you end the relationship she’s free to date anyone she sees fit. So now that Cal and Montgomery are seeing each other, Stanford is going to have to live with the regret of letting him go.

  3. Neil Menzies says:

    Check your facts, R. Pick.

    1. Stanford didn’t fire Montgomery – he left voluntarily to jump to the pros.

    2. We’re the “Cardinal”, not the “Cardinals”.

    Also, the dynamic of this situation is different than any of those in your examples. First off, all comparisons to pro players & coaches are invalid, as those are purely mercenary situations, whereas the expectation (reasonable or not) is that there is/should be some semblance of loyalty in college.

    Second, you’re absolutely right – Kentucky alums despise Pitino, Kansas grads despise Roy Williams, etc…. Once a coach becomes the face of a program and leaves after an extended period of his own volition to coach a rival, then they have to expect to be vilified.

    As a Stanford grad who was in school when Monty brought Stanford from the Pac-10 basement to the Final Four, I am unbelievably torn about this. I’ve got a lot of great memories of Montgomery and his teams over the years, and it will kill me to boo him. But you know what? I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna mean it.

  4. R. Pick says:

    Nice post, I did get the whole leaving thing wrong, which does change the dynamics, but I’m still not sure I’d boo him. However, if I were in your shoes I’d certainly root for him to excel at mediocrity

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