John Harbaugh Hearts Gary Williams
So about those "We [Heart] Our Coach!" Gary Williams shirts. They were ordered two weeks ago, before the most recent run of Gary recruiting stories, by three members of the Friends of Gary group. The first shipment of 200 shirts arrived this week; more are on the way for the next home game. Today, they're scattered court-side and in some club seats, though there are also 2,500 "In Gary We Trust" buttons that are all over the student section. (And in my pocket.)
The most famous t-shirt wearer has to be Ravens Coach John Harbaugh, who pledged allegiance to Gary, slipping the shirt over his head to massive applause early in the first half.
"I love Gary Williams," Harbaugh told me. "I'm supporting him with pride."
That's basically the message I got from the shirts' creators: Chuck Corcoran, Susan Wilkes and Barry DesRoches. Repeatedly.
"We love our coach," Wilkes told me. "And it's Valentine's Day."
"Valentine's Day, exactly," Corcoran agreed with a laugh. There's "a lot of turmoil" lately, Corcoran added. "[Williams] rebuilt this program from nothing."
"And he probably has the biggest heart of anybody on this campus," Wilkes said.
"He cares more about this school than anybody else on this campus," Corcoran agreed.
"And he rebuilt this program from nothing," Wilkes repeated.
I asked them to address some of the concerns raised by skeptical Maryland fans in recent weeks, but they weren't having that. And they wouldn't even entertain questions about Williams's job.
"He's not leaving," both said immediately.
"It's Valentine's Day and we love our coach," Wilkes said, staying on message.
Corcoran said he had no idea whether Gary had seen the shirts, and he didn't really care.
"It's to show everybody else we support our coach," Corcoran said. "He's a Maryland guy. Very few other people here are Maryland people."
"We love our coach," Wilkes added one last time, for emphasis.
As we chatted, one fan came up to say how much he loved the shirts. The three supporters gave them away for free today, though Wilkes jokingly told me they could have made some money had they thought of it.
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