2013 has been a rollercoaster ride for Butler University. From Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse’s first time hosting ESPN College GameDay and defeating Gonzaga University on another buzzer-beater of the season; to Blue II (former Bulldog mascot) barking and running on the court for the last time, handing down the legendary Butler University Bulldog collar to Trip (Blue III); the Bulldogs thought they’d have enough drama for the year.
However, that was only the beginning.
A certain change in feelings and emotions clouded over Butler basketball fans after yesterday’s news. Brad Stevens, coach of the Butler University men’s basketball team, accepted a contract, almost triple his earning at Butler, to the Boston Celtics franchise as head coach, literally two days after the Butler community celebrated their arrival into the ‘new’ Big East Conference.
Blindsided is an understatement for Butler students. And no, that is not sweat dripping off my face, those are tears.
As a Butler University student, Boston native, and Celtics fan I am bittersweet, edging more towards the bitter, to say the least. Watching the man, who gave Butler University basketball a popular connotation, gesturing his priceless reactions – to a poor play made by his players – on TD Garden’s court just will not be the same. He isn’t just leaving Butler basketball; he is leaving Butler University, a community that admires him and his family greatly. Yes, it will be hard to see Coach Stevens and his family leave, but the Butler community has only thanks to offer him.
Coach Stevens was, and for many years will still be, the face of basketball at Butler University. Butler had never been to the Final Four or the NCAA Championship game, until Coach Stevens headed the squad in 2007. In his six seasons as Butler head coach, Coach Stevens collected many awards, along with numerous titles. He was Claire Bee Coach of the Year in 2011, Horizon League Coach of the Year two years in a row (2009, 2010), 4-time Horizon League regular season champions (2008-2011), and won three Horizon League Tournament Championships (2008, 2009, 2011).
In a few short years, Coach Stevens lit the fire in the Butler basketball program, igniting them to two consecutive NCAA Final Four appearances. In doing this, Coach Stevens drew NBA’s eyes toward his players, such as Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward.
Cool. We all know how amazing Stevens is. After all, he is the winningest coach in NCAA history during his first five years as head coach. But, students and fans did not expect him to depart the program this early in his life, and only days after joining the powerhouse, Big East Conference.
Regardless of his achievements, as countless Butler students posted, “It feels like Brad Stevens has dumped all 4,000 of us,” we all feel as though we were simultaneously dumped by a loving girlfriend/boyfriend. There is no way to react or deal with this ‘break-up’ because we were promised to be together until at least 2022.
Stevens recently signed a contract for eight more years with the Butler Bulldogs, ending in the 2021-2022 season.
As a Celtics fan, too, I feel I have been cheated on. In personifying the two organizations, I am Butler University and the Boston Celtics is my best friend, meaning Stevens has dumped and left me for my best friend. In this situation you could either be 1) happy for your best friend for picking up Stevens or 2) sad because Stevens has left.
Nonetheless, I am ecstatic to have Stevens, out of any candidate, handle the Celtics torch, passed down by former coach, Doc Rivers, who recently left the franchise for the Los Angeles Clippers organization. Rivers leaving the Celtics was already a stressful situation to deal with this past week. Adding insult to injury, I have already struggled through these past 10 days as a Butler and Boston fan. The Bruins lost in the Stanley Cup finals, Aaron Hernandez was the infamous face of every media outlet and Ray Allen, former Celtic who left for the Miami Heat, won another NBA final.
If I were not a Butler student, the signing of Stevens to the Celtics would add a positive note to the end of 10 long and grueling days of anguish. However, I am a Bulldog and Celtic, so I will be forced to make the best of this situation.
In the end, it could have been worse. If Stevens had left Butler for the Lakers, my depression would be unimaginable. So I’ll take the positives out of this deal. I am and always will be, like any other Butler fan, proud of Stevens and what he has done for this program and school. We Butler students are sad to say goodbye to you, Stevens, but we only wish the best for the man who put Butler University on the map. Thank you.