On Wednesday, Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn wrote a very interesting piece looking at Vic Law's recruitment and his eventual commitment to Northwestern. Essentially, here's the gist of it: Law liked NU as a school, but he didn't like Bill Carmody, so he didn't even consider the Wildcats until Chris Collins was hired. Vic Law Sr. put it quite bluntly:
"When we went up there to visit [sophomore year]," Law Sr. told Winn, "Carmody came across as arrogant -- like that the university would sell itself, and either you want to come here or you don't. And I'm saying to myself, 'You haven't won anything!' You had a sour taste in your mouth when you left, and to be honest with you, had Carmody still been there, we never would have considered Northwestern. Not ever. That's how bad it was for us."
Usually when recruits and their parents talk about schools they don't attend or coaches they didn't like, they say something to the tune of, "It was a nice place, but ultimately the combination of basketball and academics wasn't the best fit for me or the right decision for my career." That quote — or a version of it — comes up in almost every recruiting story in which a recruit has to "drop" a school. But Law Sr. didn't hold back, and that elicited some pretty strong comments from NU fans.
After the start that Collins has had in recruiting to NU, I don't think anyone can say his hire was a bad move. Collins' first recruit, Law, is already the highest-rated recruit the Wildcats have ever gotten in the recruiting rankings era and he has NU's name in the mix for a number of other solid recruits, many of whom are from Chicago, which will be an important base to build in the future. The fans love him, the players seem to love him, the recruits love him and hell, some journalists even seem to love him — I've seen more than one column that basically says Collins is perfect. So no, nobody can say this was a bad move.
However, some fans took Law Sr.'s comments as an excuse to bash Carmody's recruiting, and frankly, the comments from the fans were ridiculous. Recruiting was never Carmody's thing — he was more of an X's and O's guy, while assistants Tavaras Hardy and Fred Hill seemed to take more of a lead on recruiting. Why? Well, they were better at it. Carmody is a reserved guy — possibly confused for arrogance by Law Sr. — and he's certainly not going to go charm a recruit like Pat Fitzgerald or even Collins. But a common narrative from fans who wanted Carmody gone is that he was "lazy," and that's just a baseless claim.
People take sound clips from interviews and assume they know everything about a coach. What we know about Carmody is that he's reserved and wasn't great at recruiting — at least, Collins already has better results. However, lazy? People act like they know Carmody's recruiting pitch — and Fitzgerald's and Collins' — and frankly, they have no idea. You can make guesses as to how Carmody recruited, but unless you were in the room being pitched to as a potential recruit, you have no idea what any coach's recruiting pitch is actually like, except for the vague information we get from recruiting stories. I was never recruited by Carmody to play basketball — he missed out big time there — so I'm not going to pretend I know exactly how he recruited.
Some people will take Law Sr.'s comments as proof enough that Carmody "didn't care" about recruiting, but really, those comments are one man's opinion. People have lots of different opinions. Jaren Sina, another top 100 recruit, decommitted when he learned that Carmody wouldn't be the coach anymore — some have argued that Sina only committed because of Fred Hill, but nobody commits to a school without liking the head coach — so it goes both ways. Law Sr. is certainly entitled to his opinion, but you can't take his account and apply it to every other kid Carmody ever recruited.
Chris Collins has done a great job recruiting since he came to Northwestern — a better job than Bill Carmody did throughout much of his career at NU. But that's where the speculation about the recruiting pitches of both coaches should end. You can guess how invested Carmody was in recruiting during his tenure, but unless you were in the living rooms of the kids he gave his pitch to, you really have no idea.