Yesterday morning got started with the news from ESPN that Marquette had been in contact with Virginia Commonwealth University head coach Shaka Smart. Makes sense, good young coach, Wisconsin ties, energetic style of play.
And then around 1:15 Central time, things started going a little sideways, when 247Sports.com Director of Basketball Scouting Jerry Meyer tweeted this:
Hearing from multiple sources that Shaka Smart to Marquette is after all very likely to happen and happen soon.— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) March 24, 2014
Meyer's running a fairly reputable recruiting website, and I figure if he's got enough ties to pull that off, he's probably got enough ties to hear some solid information. All of this got compounded a few minutes later when Milwaukee Pro-Am founder and Brew City Ball operator Jim Ganzer tweeted the following:
I am predicting Shaka Smart will be the new coach at Marquette. #mubb— Jim Ganzer (@theIWB) March 24, 2014
Ok, fine. Dude's got enough of a stake where if he wants to make predictions, good for him. As the afternoon progressed, it seemed like Meyer and Ganzer might have been on to something. At just after 2:30pm:
#mubb stand by, things could happen fast . . .— Michael Hunt (@MichaelHuntMJS) March 24, 2014
And then shortly before 3pm:
#mubb . . . nothing from the Ben Howland camp, hmmmm . . .— Michael Hunt (@MichaelHuntMJS) March 24, 2014
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Michael Hunt had also reported the contact between Marquette and both Smart and former UCLA head coach Ben Howland. The implication that I got from this is that things were moving in Smart's direction at that point. Seems solid.
But just after 3pm, Michael Cianciolo, the MUTV Sports Director weighed in:
Hearing new #mubb coach to be announced by 5pm today— Michael Cianciolo (@MikeCianciolo) March 24, 2014
45 minutes later, Cianciolo went full blast and on the record:
Sources say that Shaka Smart is going to be the next head coach for #mubb and is headed to Milwaukee right now— Michael Cianciolo (@MikeCianciolo) March 24, 2014
This is, at 7:30am Tuesday morning, still not true.
An hour later, a Twitter account with an egg for an avatar and five previous tweets fired off the following:
VCU's Shaka Smart to Marquette. Announcement at 5pm at Al McGuire Center. Press Conference later in week. #MarquetteHoops.scout.com— John Dodds (@john_dodds) March 24, 2014
This was retweeted 118 times and is categorically false. This is how false the 5pm announcement at the McGuire Center part is: Marquette athletics never announced it. At all. To anyone.
I found it hard to believe that there would be a media announcement without, you know, contacting the media. #JustSayin #ShakaWatch— Doug Russell (@RussellOnSports) March 24, 2014
That's WTMJ 620AM Sports Director Doug Russell, who would know a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to contacting media outlets in Milwaukee.
There was an actual announcement at 5pm from Marquette Basketball, and that was that the April 15th postseason banquet would be at the Harley-Davidson museum.
Things really started getting out of control after this, though. WISN news anchor Craig McKee went ahead with the story anyway, even though the university had just announced that there was no news.
Breaking: Sources tell @WISN12News Shaka Smart to be named new head basketball coach. #mubb— Craig McKee - WISN (@McKeeWISN) March 24, 2014
Again, the local ABC affilliate's 5, 6, and 10pm news anchor went ahead with that as fact, even though just minutes earlier, the university had said there was no news, and this is the more important part - NO ONE HAD BOTHERED ASKING THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT IF THERE WAS GOING TO BE ANY NEWS ANYWAY.
I shared with media there wasn't 5 p.m. presser, at 5:01 p.m., because until that point no member of the media had asked me. #mubb— Scott Kuykendall (@UWPgrad1997) March 24, 2014
That's Marquette Associate Athletic Director For Communications Scott Kuykendall. Literally no one actually asked him if anything was happening. That's how badly things were handled up to this point.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman stepped in to provide a blanket of calm.
Here's the update on Shaka Smart and Marquette for all those asking. Nothing done, nothing imminent - per multiple sources.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 24, 2014
And then Ganzer came back to throw everything back into complete disarray.
Shaka Smart is the new coach at Marquette. #mubb Done Deal— Jim Ganzer (@theIWB) March 25, 2014
It has been 13 and a half hours since that was tweeted as I type this. It has been retweeted 344 times.
It is also not true.
It very well may happen, but I can report Shaka to Marquette is not a done deal. #mubb— Paint Touches (@PaintTouches) March 25, 2014
#mubb Shaka Smart deal not done from what I'm told.— Michael Hunt (@MichaelHuntMJS) March 25, 2014
I am told that nothing has changed from earlier today on the Shaka Smart situation. #mubb— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) March 25, 2014
In order: Mark Strotman from Paint Touches, Michael Hunt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Andrew Gruman from Fox Sports Wisconsin. All on the Marquette basketball beat this season, all with a flat denial that anything has happened.
All three came before the stroke of 8pm here in Milwaukee. But that didn't stop the local news from going insane at 10pm. Here's the real problem with that: Who was their source?
@tvvfoxsix sources a slam dunk Shaka Smart to succeed Buzz Willaims as #Marquette b'ball coach #FOX 6 NEWS AT 9 AND 10P— Tom Pipines (@pipspicks) March 25, 2014
There's Fox 6's Tom Pipines giving credit to his long time co-worker Tim Van Vooren. Ok, so let's go over to his Twitter.....
Hunt went ahead with what he could prove, publishing a story very late last night on the web and for the paper this morning about the tomfoolery that happened on Monday and the fact that right now, Marquette does not have a head basketball coach.
As I finished assembling this (and I just deleted about 100 words), Tim Pearrell of the Richmond Times-Dispatch (VCU is in Richmond, Virginia), the author of this article that had VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin on the record saying no one had contacted him to ask permission to speak with Smart, had this to say:
#VCU AD Ed McLaughlin says this a.m. that "Shaka Smart is our men's basketball coach" after erroneous reports about Marquette job on Mon.— Tim Pearrell (@timpearrelltd) March 25, 2014
Back to square one, everyone. Try to stay frosty today.