When Ray Giacoletti was introduced as Utah's head basketball coach in the spring of 2004, the Utes media blitz bombarded the Salt Lake Valley with You Don't Know Giac billboards. This "cute" catchphrase was supposed to help educate the fans on this rural, small town-like quality that Giacoletti was bringing to Utah basketball. This was in stark contrast to the larger than life Rick Majerus, a dominant figure that's shadow consumed the University of Utah for over a decade. Three years later, and You Don't Know Giac is still true today as it was the day Giacoletti was named Utah's head basketball coach.
The problem with this is that while Giacoletti has definitely flown under the radar, creating no scandals, he's barely made an indent on the local media, let alone the national. Because of this, coupled with the fact Utah has struggled over the past two years, the Utes have fallen into irrelevancy of epic proportions. Even during the great run of 2005 when the Utes made the Sweet 16 and Andrew Bogut won the Wooden Award, the buzz around the program was lacking. Mostly because Giacoletti had a helluva time creating such buzz and even though winning was nice, Utah fans had been conditioned on that.
This was essentially Giacoletti's problem when he took over Utah basketball. He inherited a winning program and a fan base that expected nothing but a continuation of that success. But when Giacoletti was named, most Utah fans were left scratching their heads. Ray Giacoletti, who? Eastern Washington, what? The 10th winningest program in NCAA history had hired a little known coach from a little known school in a little known conference and that didn't sit well with a majority of Utah fans. They wanted a good hire, a Mark Few type that had a history of winning and a name that leaped off the pages. Instead we got a Midwestern Italian that had a name with more syllables than people who actually knew of him. This was the future of Utah basketball and it was far less interesting than anything that had occurred over the Majerus era. Giacoletti was far too small of a character and so unknown at the time, that this inevitably set him up for failure. He was the sacrificial lamb between a legend and the coach that would recapture what the legend created (or so we can hope). He was to Utah basketball as Ron Zook was to Florida football, a stand up guy with a folksy like attitude. You can't help but like Giacoletti, even though you know he's completely screwing your program.
Ray Giacoletti is an unknown presence in Salt Lake City. Outside of the basketball season, you don't hear a peep out of him. It's as if he's a bear, going into hibernation during the spring and summer months, only to return once the basketball season rolls around. That's not the type of coach Utah needs, not after what we had with Rick Majerus. Of course it's unrealistic to expect any coach to come in and dominate the sports market here in Salt Lake like Rick Majerus did. But I think having a figure much like Urban Meyer, or even Kyle Whittingham, would do wonders at rekindling the excitement toward Utah basketball. Of course it wouldn't hurt if that coach actually won games, too.
Giacoletti entered Salt Lake with high expectations and a fan base completely underwhelmed by his stature. And because of this, the opportunity of really getting to know Giacoletti has never come. And instead we're left with this figure on the sidelines that looks completely lost and has no prominence within his own community. In the end, Giacoletti has proven to be nothing more than a giac-of-no-trades and that will most likely bring an end to his career at Utah.
Giac, we hardly knew ye.