Much has been written and commented on about the recent antics of former Rutger's basketball coach, Mike Rice. After video surfaced showing Rice throwing basketballs at his players, grabbing his players, and using tough language, he is no longer the basketball coach.
First, do not forget, I am a Woody Hayes disciple, but not a Bobby Knight guy. Coach Hayes was just a tough, hardnosed coach. He did as much good for people. Plus, I always thought that he used some of his temper outbursts for motivation. All of those watches that he ripped off were 100 dollar watches. Knight, excellent coach, but thought that he was "bigger than basketball." Times have changed and, mostly for the better.
Too many coaches who rant and rave do it for show. Anytime a coach who wants the attention of fans and takes it away from the players is wrong. The game belongs to the players. The sad thing is that a coach who does all of the yelling and screaming and has the "tough guy" image is usually the one who was a back-up, or who "played hard on little talent." Bobby Knight during his playing days at Ohio State was a pain for Coach Fred Taylor. Not really cracking on Coach Knight, but he was a "spoiled boy" as a high school player at Orrville High School.
AAU Coach Dave Spiller in Westerville said that we need to educate coaches more. WOW, does he realize that you can "lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink." I mean, you can have all of the seminars, all of the classes, and read all of the advice columns that you want, but that will not change most of the problems. A coach will give "lip service," but will not change his behavior. The problems change when the AD lays out the expectations and follows through in evaluations. The key is the athletics director.
Obviously, I realize that some college football and basketball coaches are more powerful than the AD's. No need to mention names. Sad, but sometimes that happens in high schools, as well. Again, here no need to mention names. In high schools, that trend is changing.
In high schools, the athletic director MUST run the show. If he cannot make the "tough" decisions, you get a new one. Plain and simple. If, on the college level, the athletic director MUST make the "tough" decisions. That is his job. Of course, I realize that the pressure to "fill the seats" and the pressure "to win," is huge in today's world. Resign, if you, as the AD, cannot make the tough calls. I realize that the alumni have big money. Ask Ohio State. But the athletics director has to look at himself in the mirror every day. Every day.
Athletes are raised to respect the coach. What the coach says, goes. What the coach does is okay, because he is the coach. I watched two high school senior football players a few years ago, start to walk off the field, because the head football coach called them "quitters" and said that they "quit on their teammates." They stopped, turned around, and came back. The coach could not put two sentences together without cursing. I knew one player very well, and he would have never quit on his teammates. Maybe the coach, but not the team. The AD never was tough enough to make the call.
I asked my junior high students this question once. If while I was teaching language arts, I used the F-bomb frequently, took the Lord's name in vain, and used racial slurs, when I got upset, what would happen to me. Every student answered, "You would get fired." Of course, I agreed. Then I asked what would happen if I was coaching football and used the same language. "Probably nothing, because you are the football coach." Our young athletes are raised to respect the coach. Plus, inner kids realize that sports maybe their "way-out." Bite your lip and play.
Mike Rice will get another job coaching basketball. By the end of the week, ESPN will look for some other controversy and Rice stories will be history. Some athletic's director will give him another shot. I mean, look at Western Kentucky. I never really respected Miles Brand, but he had the strength to remove Bobby Knight. Hopefully, this very "sad example of an out of control coach," will be a classroom for young coaches. No extra classes, just watch the video and then remember what happened to Mike Rice. Shouldn't that be enough.
Simple Advice. In the day of the internet and cell phones, coaches and players cannot use bad judgment. When I speak to football players, I say "someone is always watching you." Both on and off the football field, someone is watching. They will probably have a cell phone. Coaches or players cannot make bad choices. Somebody is always watching with a cell phone.
Tiger Woods and NIKE have a new slogan about winning. Sad, but he might be true when it comes to coaching. But as the song goes, "Times are a changing." Maybe for the good.
The Athletics Director at Rutgers resigned over his failure to immediately fire Rice after the video showed him kicking, hitting, using anti gay-slurs at practice. Four months ago, he suspended and fined Rice. He tried to give him a second chance, but in today's world, not good enough. Probably would still be the Rutger's athletics director, if he would have taken a long look in the mirror four months ago.