I'm tired of reading article after article about Utah basketball in the local media and seeing the writer take every opportunity he has to slam Rick Majerus. Rick Majerus is talked about as if he is some sort of criminal. Rick Majerus should be viewed as a hero in the Utah community rather than the villain that the local media portrays him to be. During the coaching search it seemed every writer took the opportunity to bash Rick Majerus when commenting on the search or the type of coach Utah should pursue.
The latest demeaning of Rick Majerus came in yesterday's Deseret News in an article written by Mike Sorensen. The article focused on the need for Jim Boylen to energize the Utah fan base but Sorensen took the opportunity to slam Majerus by saying "Majerus won ball games but was a pain in the rear for everyone from athletic director Chris Hill to the local media to the fans in the stands." This is the last of many articles written in the past month by the local media that have taken the opportunity to remind everyone how "horrible" things were in Utah when Majerus was the coach of the Utes. Sorenson took the opportunity in other articles to slam Majerus. In his article posted March 26, Sorensen states "Sure, Rick Majerus won a lot of games, which everybody hopes from a coach. But the big man turned off a lot of people with his quirkiness, his bad-mouthing of Utah (even if it was often done in jest), his annual flirtations with other jobs and the manner in which he treated his people outside his inner circle."
Many of these criticisms are false or blown way out of proportion. Majerus joked about himself much more than he did about Utah culture. I never once heard Majerus seriously bad mouth Utah. However, I did hear Majerus preach how important family is and how he wished he would have been a better son to his father. Majerus did flirt with other jobs annually but who could blame him? Is there anyone out there that would not listen to other job offers if given the opportunity? It is part of the business. The important thing is that Majerus stayed for 15 years and arguable would still be here had he not been shoved out the door. Lastly, how did Majerus upset "the fans in the stands?" I guess if winning conference championships is offensive he is very much guilty.
Majerus was obviously a tough coach and not fit for every player. I personally attended Majerus' basketball camps during high school and he was not easy on young kids either. Nonetheless, he always stressed to kids how important family and education are in their lives. I do not mean to pick on Mike Sorensen. We all know that Gordon Monson is a famous Majerus hatter and has written articles in the past focusing on what a horrible human being Majerus is. The local media as a whole is guilty of it.
Does the local media realize that Majerus is the only reason they had something to write about in March during the 90s? His so-called "quirkiness" got Utah national attention each and every year. Majerus was a favorite on national broadcasts when he was the Utah coach. Winning games was not the only thing that brought national attention to the Utes; it was Majerus' personality that brought attention and prominence to the program. Before Majerus came to Utah no one had ever thought of Utah basketball. Majerus is the reason that Utah can now hire coaches like Jim Boylen. Majerus paved the way.
It is time we start praising Majerus for what was accomplished while he was here. The following is a brief summary of what happened during his tenure.
- Conference championships in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003.
- 10 NCAA appearances including 1 Final Four, 2 Elite, 8, and 4 Sweet 16 appearances. Majerus only lost 1 first round NCAA game.
- Utah had 6 players drafted by the NBA including 3 lottery picks.
- 323-95 overall record in 15 seasons.
I hate to say it but it is somewhat the fault of the university that Majerus is viewed the way he is in the local media. The university has done nothing to honor Majerus since he left Utah even after the accomplishments mentioned above. He should be honored in the same way Lavell Edwards is down south. I have seen numerous supporters in favor of the university honoring Majerus on Utefans.net. I could not agree more with some of the suggestions such as hanging a sweater in the rafters, having the court named after him, etc. Majerus deserves it!