Friday, August 28, 2015

A Tale of Three Coaches

Right now there are two stories involving college football coaches getting airplay.

One comes to us from that hotbed of ethical footballing (paging Pete Carroll, err, Lane Kiffin, err, Reggie Bush, err, never mind) USC. At their annual "Salute to Troy", which, presumably does not involve a bunch of Mycenaeans sacking the campus from inside a big wooden horse, football coach Steve Sarkisian got liquored up and said a bunch of things that USC fans say all the time. Caught on audio, Sarkisian talks about, among other things, how various conference rivals of the Trojans, and I quote here, "suck".


There was, if I heard correctly, loud cheering from the crowd when he did that.

Meanwhile, the head coach at Baylor, the school where a basketball coach once tried to frame one of his players for his own murder, and the former head coach at Boise State are at loggerheads over who told what to whom regarding a transfer player's history of sexual assault. Said player went on to commit another act of same at Baylor, and now everyone's flailing around trying to find who to blame. It's all getting much less attention than Sarkisian's "Old School" cosplay, of course.

On the one hand, this is good, in that we don't have to watch the sordid mud wrestling as these two coaches - Art Briles and Chris Petersen, both of whom make more than $3.6M a year -  play "Nuh-uh/Uh-huh" back forth about Sam Ukwuachu's more antisocial proclivities.

On the other hand, it's bad, because the story has largely been buried. The Sarkisian drunk story, however, has (wobbly) legs. It's got public shaming. It's got endless talk show segments devoted to it. It's got hot takes from PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM (i.e. everyone on ESPN's football staff who isn't John Clayton).

And again, Sarkisian was getting cheers when he said all that stuff - listen to the audio. It's the exact same thing any drunk fan says about his team and their rivals. Yes, I know the coach is supposed to "set an example", but come on. The basketball coach who tried to cover up the murder of one of his players is working again. Guys who lied on their resumes are working again. Spectacularly failed adulterer Bobby Petrino - why wait for Ashley Madison to get hacked to get outed as getting something on the side when you can use a motorcycle accident to do it for you - is working again. Guys who lie and break contracts and do all sorts of fabulous things are working again. Tying one on and saying nice things about your team is positively quaint by comparison. A - dare I say it - non-story.

Unlike, say, an institutional breakdown concerning communication over issues of sexual assault, one that had tragic consequences.

There's a lesson in there somewhere, something about priorities. When someone finds it, let me know.
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