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A lot of local folks have been beating up on Coach Ed Cooley lately.
How dare he leave the PC Friars for Georgetown.
When Cooley posted a goodbye on Twitter, my goodness, the comments.
“Hero to zero.”
“Ruined your legacy.”
Money grab, traitor, fraud, pathetic.
I’d like to offer a different comment.
And thanks for the amazing ride.
I get the anger — fans here are passionate. They gave to Cooley and expected him to give back. But they forget that he did exactly that — for 12 years, putting PC basketball on the national stage.
There’s even an edifice to it — the college's incredible Ruane Friar Development Center finished in 2018, perhaps the coolest athletic building in the state, with a two-court basketball practice facility, a futuristic health lab and powerful hall of fame you wander through in awe. It was long planned with a nod to past PC greats but in part, it’s the house that Ed Cooley helped build, and will be there forever for all school athletes.
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Some say the coach was duplicitous because — horrors — he made the agreement with Georgetown months ago; and put his house for sale before the announcement.
But that’s how the world works. Both coaches and colleges have to plan ahead. We all do. Even we mere mortals almost always line up the next job before going public with it to the boss.
The difference is Cooley’s move impacted countless fans.
It’s hard to break up a romance without resentment, and that’s what Coach Ed Cooley’s ride here was, a love affair. When he took the Friars seven times to the NCAA championship, we all came along, and dreamed of the promise of more.
So now there’s a feeling of being jilted. We were true —how could he dump us?
Except he didn’t really. Forgive the cliché but in this case, it really was about him, not us. Even in great romances, there are times someone needs to change and grow.
As for those saying it was for the money, well, if partly so, I say Godspeed to that, too. Especially for Ed Cooley, who grew up in poverty in South Providence, then achieved the American dream, making over $3 million as a superstar PC coach.
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Some ask if he really needs the millions more Georgetown is paying. Well, last I looked, the American dream is about continuing to reach. Human nature itself is. It’s rare to see a famous sports figure turn down an offer more lucrative and challenging.
In Cooley's case, the emphasis is on that last word. His move to Georgetown is for the challenge — of bringing a legendary team back to the mountaintop. He said it would take a special place for him to leave "home." He found one.
It’s true that some including Bill Belichick and Bobby Knight spent decades in one place. But most legendary coaches grow through taking on new venues. That’s how Cooley got here — going from UMass-Dartmouth, to Stonehill, to URI, to BC, to Fairfield, to Providence. Where he stayed 12 years. In the world of big-time coaching, that's commitment.
Ed Cooley has no doubt heard and seen the angry comments. I hope he realizes that even the worst are veiled compliments. People are mad because their hearts are a bit broken. They wanted him to stay.
I did too.
But it was a great run.
So I’m still cheering on this incredible American and Rhode Island story.
Godspeed, Coach Cooley.
Do us proud.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: PC Friar fans wrong to feel Ed Cooley a traitor after Georgetown move