Coarses of Higher Learning
August 7, 2014 by Jonathan Lowe • Print Story •
Has the world of college basketball coaching completely shifted? Some say it's more humane. Some say it's becoming too soft. Whatever side of the fence you stand on, there's no question that the tide has shifted, as is seen through yet another example.
On Tuesday, College of Charleston fired Doug Wojcik after an investigation the school signed off on was released. In it, Wojcik allegedly used verbal abuse to coach/motivate/improve his team. In the wake of the Mike Rice scandal, Wojcik's reported tactics may not have been that bad. But in the wake of how we (as a society) look at that sort of alleged behavior, Wojcik wouldn't come out smelling like a rose, either.
Do I hope that this country becomes even more tolerant than it is now? Absolutely. But I also won't type here and tell you that I'm destined for Sainthood when I die. I'm far from that.
I do know that there were successful coaches in that past that did apply a more "tough love" approach. The prime example is Bobby Knight. In the process of winning three titles at Indiana, no one mistook his demeanor as "cuddly" or "warm and fuzzy." John Chaney led a school to a Division II title before getting Temple to five Elite Eight appearances. However, his 1994 post-game threat to John Calipari and 2005 "goon" move will forever be in his highlight reel. These are just two examples of men who coached the game, and their players, hard. And, only a decade later, probably wouldn't last three years on a present-day bench.
There are the "flip-sides" to Knight and Chaney. The most decorated coach of all-time, John Wooden, never appeared to have any angry tones in his body. While Jerry Tarkanian had many problems on his watch, was one of them behaving "boorish" towards his players? And, sure, Mike Krzyzewski has been known to berate the refs on occasion. But does that ever flow over to his practices? Not that I've heard.
So, where do we draw the line? What's the happy medium? Is grabbing a player by the arm (to make a point or correction) wrong? Is cursing wrong? Is yelling wrong?
Let's get this straight. There are many ways that a coach can undermine or undercut their players. Some people can handle the "tough love" approach, while others just can't. But where that leaves the college basketball coach is anybody's guess. It's a new age, folks. And, just as we all have to adjust to those new ways of living, some coaches might need to adjust before their tactics die out.