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Saturday, April 6, 2013



 Cranky Opinion Saturday


The big news here in Central New Jersey is that the Rutger’s basketball coach Mike Rice was recently fired for physically and verbally abusing his players.   The coach was suspended and fined for this offence in December, and it was no big deal.   Recently a video of his practice sessions went viral and public opinion demanded his firing.  Many people are now calling for the firing of the Athletic Director* and the University President as well.

 If you watch, note the player’s reactions.  Do they seem upset?


I have seen the video, and the coach did get physical with his 6’ 8” 220 pound twenty year old players.  He grabbed them and pushed them and booted them in the butt.  He even called them some homosexually offensive names.  The video made him look very bad, especially for any enlightened caring sensitive non-violent observer who has never played a competitive sport.  There is a reason practice sessions are generally not open for the public.  My guess is that if all division I sports practices were filmed, and the film was made public, not many coaches would pass the politically correct scrutiny test of todays public's standards.

What was on tape did not look good.  I wonder what happened in the locker room?  Did the coach go up to the player, put his arm around his shoulder and have a fatherly talk?  Don’t know.  Did any player show physical signs of abuse?  Getting hit by a basketball is not really very painful.  A soft boot to the booty is not really very painful.  A push or a pull is not painful.  Degrading?  In the video…yes, but videos do not show nuances and inflections.  Videos are like emails, cold, sterile, often misinterpreted and easy to edit.

I would like to hear from the players.  How many complained about abuse?  How many left the program?  How many could not be recruited because of Coach Rice’s reputation? 

None that I know of.**

Indiana’s Bobby Knight, possibly the most famous and successful college coach ever, had a reputation known nationwide for being a “Hard ass.”  He pushed, hollered at, benched and berated his players, and yet high school stars flocked to his school to learn from him and be pushed to be their best and to win.
Bob Knight berating a player
Bob Knight...hard ass mean nasty coach

I played high school football, and our coaches did not hold our hands.  They berated, they butt booted, they called us names; they grabbed our face masks pulled us to within an inch of their face and screamed, “What the hell were you thinking?  Get you head out of your ass and make that friggin block!”  “Don’t turn your head Hagy, stick your nose in his chest and drive him to the ground…don’t sissy him!”

These same coaches also checked up on our classes and made sure we were doing our school work, they did their best to keep their “Kids” out of trouble, off drugs, cigarettes and booze.  They demanded that we be respectful and be gentlemen at all times.  They cared about their kids.

I recently got an email from my college buddy “Squeak” on this subject.  His comment:

Coach Rice, what are your thoughts?

Back in the 60's I remember the football coach calling me all kind of names if I missed a block or tackle. He was often behind the blocking dummy and occasionally he'd knock me on my ass when my technique was flawed. "Harjes you pussy, think about what the f… you're doing!"

OK, I agree, Rice crossed the line but he wasn't coaching the chess team either. A $50,000 fine, 3 game suspension plus anger management training. No, no we need his left nut too!

For the good of the Country, I only hope Navy Seal training doesn't become sensitive and politically correct.


I am on Squeak’s side on this one.  If Coach Rice deserved to be fired it would be because he had a losing record.  Division I sports are tough.  Division I athletes are tough.  Do we have abusive coaches who deserve to be fired?  Yes, I’m sure we do, but it should be team results and the players who dictate that action, not a viral video taken out of context.

The last Rutger’s basketball scandal was several years ago when Radio DJ and syndicated asshole Don Imus referred to Afro-American players on Rutger’s girls team as "nappy-headed hos" and "Jigaboos."  Don Imus said he was sorry.  He is still broadcasting and he is still an asshole.

I think Mike Rice and the Rutgers Administration are suffering from the fallout of the Penn State fiasco.  Looking the other way when a coach gets tough with young men is not the same as looking the other way when a coach is sexually abusing little boys.

The preceeding was the opinion of a Cranky Old Man, and not necessarily that of management...Mrs. Cranky

*Yesterday, one day after I wrote this opinion post AD Tim Pernetti stepped dow under outside pressures.  See his letter of resignation 

**Squeak informs me three players left the program during Rice’s tenure.  No reason was given, but it is relatively common for players not getting “minutes” leaving for opportunities to get more playing time elsewhere.



  1. Great post and I did catch that story and video clip. I'm still confused what he did wrong. I told hubby I can see sports changing to Glee and the Sound of Music! I asked the hubby how he will soon enjoy his Sat College Football: The Musical! If they can't take the heat that guy was given how can they expect to take the pressures of the big league? Great post!

  2. I don't know. I know the coaches have to get mean, but to physically touch them is a different thing. I've been known to call refs and coaches bad names during my kids games, but Iwould never go and attack them.

  3. Can't say as I agree with you on this one, Crank. Rice crossed the line between coaching his players and abusing them. Perhaps not day in/day out, but enough for me to recognize that he demonstrated disregard for his players' rights to self-esteem, the topic of your previous blog. And I pretty much agree with your perspective on that one.

  4. I think our future would be brighter if we did put this type of attention on Chess teams instead of sports. And math clubs. Art clubs... Far too much money and attention is spent on college sports, in my humble opinion.

  5. Speaking from the's all about connections. I know a high school basketball coach fired for calling a player "stupid." And a middle school football coach who swears like a sailor at his players in front of parents watching practice.

    I didn't watch the video, so I can't comment on that specific case. Seems like somebody had an ax to grind. Chair-throwing Bobby Knight had no problem recruiting players. They knew what they were getting into. Times are different now. Can't hurt anybody's tender self-esteem.

  6. I don't know enough of the specifics to have much of an opinion, but I do remember a similar media firing a few years ago when my Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was booted out because he "disciplined" the whiney-assed kid of whiney-assed ESPN commentator Craig James. It was all much ado about nothing. I'm still pissed about that.


  7. Hagy and Squeak both got it right!

  8. I am a High School Basketball and soccer coach. I think throwing the ball and any physical actions towards the players are across the line, but the yelling, cussing,etc is ok as long as you are not personally attacking the athlete


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