First off, here is Sean Don’s latest Villanova video. This is just a teaser for what will come if Villanova wins the National Championship.
Jay Wright is really a tremendous Philly sports figure. Dick “Hoops” Weiss, who has long been very close with Wright, writes about the temptation to leave:
The calls started coming in 2006 before Jay Wright signed his first $1 million contract at Villanova. He would hear about them from third parties like his agent or close friend and network analyst Bill Raftery, who would casually ask if he would be interested in talking to a bigger state school that could offer him a more lucrative salary and bigger budget.
Brand name Big Ten schools, half the Atlantic Coast Conference, a blue blood SEC school, a powerhouse Big 12 school with an unlimited budget. Over 30 schools and NBA franchises have done their due diligence and contacted him.
The phone is constantly ringing, but Wright rarely returns calls.
He just has his agent Carl Hirsch call back and say, “No thank you.”
Wright is currently making an annual salary of $2.5 million. There is little question he could make more elsewhere.
And Wright will admit he was in intrigued by two job opportunities in the past.
In 2007, after Wright had coached Villanova to a No. 1 seed and the NCAA Elite Eight, he went on vacation with his family in Clearwater, Fla. after the Final Four in Atlantia to watch Phillies’ spring training. Tubby Smith had resigned from Kentucky to take the Minnesota job and Wright’s agent received a call about the job. He was interested enough to consider visiting campus, but never got on a plane.
Then, In 2009, right after he had coached Villanova to its first Final Four since 1985, he got a call from Eddie Stefanski, the general manager of the Philadelphia 76’ers, asking if he would consider taking the head coaching job. “That would have been the perfect situation,” he recalled. We had just gone to the Final Four. Ed Stefanski was a guy I really liked and respected. And it was my hometown team. I seriously thought about it, then decided I just didn’t want to leave Villanova to do that. I was thinking, ‘If it doesn’t work out, what would I want to do? And the answer was go back to Villanova.”’
So there’s my response to all those folks who questioned my assertion that he could be coaching Kentucky if he wanted to.
The NCAA has some great shots of teams arriving in Houston. Looks like a pretty impressive welcome.
Even they’re decked out for each squad:
Hallway outside Villanova's lockerroom pic.twitter.com/CVvX5mGFhU
— Mike Jensen (@jensenoffcampus) March 31, 2016
— John Clark CSN (@JClarkCSN) March 31, 2016
Photo credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
That said, Wright’s tailor, Gabriele D’Annunzio – the man largely responsible for Wright’s courtside look – has a key piece of advice for the coach when he chooses the suit for his team’s Saturday-night Final Four game against Oklahoma.
Go with the dark-blue double-breasted.
That would be one of the four suits D’Annunzio made for Wright at the beginning of the season at his Newtown Square bespoke men’s shop, D&B Tailors.
“I had to convince him to go for that new look. This is where fashion is going,” said the soft-spoken tailor. “Trust me.”
He’s never looked better.
And seriously, it can’t be understated how much of a thing Wright’s suits were for students those first few years at Villanova. Well, in my circles, at least.
Philly will be lit up in support of Villanova. From University President Father Peter Donohue:
Several Philadelphia landmarks will be lit in blue and white Saturday evening on honor of our team’s march to the Final Four. The Ben Franklin Bride, One and Two Liberty Place, the Wells Fargo Center, and the PECO Building will be awash in Villanova colors while the Cira Center will feature our blue “V.” Philadelphia Airport will be running good luck Villanova ads on hundreds of LED screens in all seven terminals, and Comcast SportsNet has digital boards throughout Philly that will show support for Villanova and will be updated with live scores.
But I guess they’re not a Philly school, right?
“My dad was and still is one of the biggest Eagles fans of all time, really our whole family,” Wright said. “Our family gets together on Sundays to watch Eagles games. The whole family comes over and it’s a big event at our house. This year we went to the game against the Redskins on the 26th of December. We were able to go down on the field before the game, see the players come out. I’ve never done that before.
“Then, Howie Roseman put us in a nice Eagles box. I’ve been to a lot of Eagles games, but at Veterans Stadium I used to be in the 700 level. So last year, that was the nicest experience I’ve ever had. We brought our whole family. We got a picture on the field. As a kid, Vince Papale and Dick Vermeil, (Ron) Jaworski, I was a high school kid coming up and that 1980 team was probably my favorite. My dad was a season ticket holder and was at the 1960 Eagles Championship game. I’ve actually been to Eagles games at Franklin Field, Veterans Stadium and now the Linc.”
But Wright’s not a Philly guy, right?
Totals for Philly Daily News March Sports Covers —
15: Villanova/Coll Hoops
— Bob Vetrone Jr. (@BoopStats) March 31, 2016
But they’re not a Philly school, right? [Here are all the covers— seems the Flyers are really getting the shaft.]
One of those covers is of Father Rob. Today:
These days, he’s universally known around his alma mater as Father Rob. And as coach Jay Wright might be the first to tell you, he’s as essential to everything that goes on with the basketball program as Jay Wright. OK, almost. But you get the point. His official title is associate athletic director. His most visible role is chaplain for the men’s hoops and football teams. You will see him sitting at the end of the bench this weekend in Houston, cheering on his guys during pregame and timeouts when they play Oklahoma in one of the national semifinals. In short, he’s there for whoever needs him, for whatever the need. And it’s one of those 24/7/365 deals, as you’d suspect. When he’s not helping the school run its affairs when it comes to lawyer stuff. Or overseeing the areas of sports medicine and strength and conditioning. Or being the adminstrator for golf and tennis. He wears a bunch of hats. And wears them all with distinction.
Pretty sure my friend’s wedding at Villanova two years ago had to be pushed up on a Saturday because Father Rob, performing the ceremony, had to be at the football game later in the day.