Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rice Baloney, Nobody's Treat

Rutgers University has fired men's basketball head coach Mike Rice.

For the same offense for which he was suspended for 3 games in mid-season.

Apparently, in December, it was not as bad for him to throw basketballs at players, and to call one of them two separate anti-gay slurs in the space of three seconds, as it was in April.

The difference is, this time, the video was leaked.  This time, people saw it.

Indiana University let Bobby Knight get away with all kinds of crap for nearly 30 years before they finally canned him.  Because the crap was finally getting recorded on camera.  Finally, even 3 National Championships couldn't save The General.

Mike Rice, a 44-year-old Pittsburgh native who played at Fordham and assisted at that school and 5 others, before becoming Robert Morris University's head coach in 2007 and Rutgers' in 2010, has a record of 44-51 at Rutgers, never finishing higher in the Big East Conference than a tie for 11th place, and never making the NCAA Tournament in his 3 seasons -- although he won 3 straight Northeast Conference titles at RMU.

So he didn't have the good record necessary to save his job.

What if he had been a winner? What if, one of these last 3 years, RU had become one of those "Cinderella" schools that makes a miracle run to the Final Four?

And what if I flapped my arms and fly to the Moon? Sorry, Rutgers already had that miracle run, back in 1976.

Rice will probably never be a head coach again.  If he'd done a little winning at RU, a big-conference school, not a "mid-major" like Robert Morris, he might've gotten picked up by a school struggling to restore its own reputation -- like West Virginia did in hiring alum Bob Huggins after he drank-drove himself out of the University of Cincinnati, and Jim Harrick did at Rhode Island and Georgia after getting UCLA its only non-John Wooden National Championship and putting them on probation in the process, and Steve Fisher of Michigan's "Fab Five" infamy did at San Diego State after a stopover as a Sacramento Kings assistant.

But right now, especially with gay marriage a hot topic, anti-gay slurs -- in Rice's case, both beginning with the letter F, along with that other F-word -- have made Rice radioactive.  The slurs are probably more damaging to him than the violence.

This becomes even more damaging when you remember that Rutgers was the college of Tyler Clementi, probably the most famous gay person in this country ever to be driven to suicide because he'd been ripped out of the closet.  I wanted the kid who posted that video to be tied to the George Washington Bridge, the very bridge Tyler jumped off, suspended over the Hudson River, but at the kind of angle where motorists could throw things at him.

I hate bullies.  No matter why they do it, they are scum.  I don't mean like certain sports teams get called "The Scum." Though, every once in a while, a fan might go that far.

New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica thinks University President Robert Barchi and Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who effectively covered this up for over 3 months, should also be sacked.  As a parallel, he uses Penn State's cover-up of the crimes of Jerry Sandusky, which led to ratfaced coach Joe Paterno, University President Graham Spanier and Athletic Director Tim Curley getting fired.

That might be a stretch.  It would be different if the aggrieved player had filed a complaint against Rice, and they sat on it.  As far as is publicly known, that did not happen.

And, to be fair, Rice is not a Jerry Sandusky.  He's not even a Joe Paterno, to whom his false reputation as a clean coach was more important than a child's right to not have what happened to them happen to them.

Then again, Mike Rice did not have a good, if false, reputation to protect.  And now, he never will.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.

And Clementi's suicide happened while Rice was head coach, and while Pernetti was AD, although Barchi was not yet University President (Richard L. McCormick was).  They should have known better.  Much, much better.

So maybe they should go.

Anyway, no word yet on who Rice's replacement will be.

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