UCSB sports have just lost a real-life Gaucho. In a move that only those close to him could have foreseen, Bob Williams has elected to step down as head coach of the men’s basketball team after 12 years at the helm. His controversial decision was announced in an emergency press conference called last night by Athletic Director Mark Massari.

Even more shocking than his withdrawal from the program is the new vocation he has chosen to pursue: cowboy for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved basketball my entire life,” Williams said as he fought back tears. “Still, I’ve always regretted not going forward with my first passion… being a cowboy.”

To most fans of Gaucho basketball, the head coach’s moniker of “Cowboy” Bob Williams represented nothing more than a nickname. Clearly, there is much more to the story.

“I’ve downplayed my longing for the open range ever since I took on a coaching gig [with UCSB] at the Division I level, but truth be told, I’ve really missed it,” Williams said. “The horses, the lassos, the lifestyle… all of it.”

Signs of Coach Williams’ inner cowboy have gradually come to light in recent years. At the 2009 Big West Tournament, he was seen donning a cowboy hat on several occasions by then-Daily Nexus Sports co-editor Dr. Derek Mead. When personally confronted about the sighting at this year’s tournament, Cowboy Bob flatly denied the allegation, going so far as to claim that he had never owned a single cowboy hat.

“Holy hell, I can’t believe he wouldn’t admit to [wearing a cowboy hat],” Mead said. “I even talked to him while the cowboy hat was sitting right on top of his head.”

Williams even showed off cowboy-like drinking tendencies following an impressive run in this season’s conference tournament. After leading the Gauchos into the NCAA Tournament with a win over Long Beach State, Bob was spotted at Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Company in Anaheim double-fisting mugs of stout beer and whiskey-cokes, challenging his colleagues to “cowboy up” with him.
While Santa Barbara’s current players are not overly surprised with Williams’ decision to leave the West Coast in favor of the Wild West, they are understandably upset.

“Nem, nem, nem!” (translation: no, no, no) roared sophomore center Greg Somogyi moments after being informed of Williams’ departure.

Though the three-time Big West Coach of the Year leaves behind what could end up being the best men’s basketball team ever to compete at UCSB, he is content with no longer having to lead a double life. Substituting his customary suit and tie for a pair of Wranglers and a cowboy hat is only step one in what Williams hopes to be a long and lucrative career at the rodeo.

“If everyone thought I was good sitting on a fold-out chair and writing on a clipboard, just wait till they see me mount a saddle and take the reigns,” Williams said. “So long, bothersome reporters. Hello, bareback bull riding!”