Coaches Behaving Badly? No Surprise

Within the last few weeks, we have seen two high-profile college coaches get canned after scandal, and both, through their lawyers, are complaining in one way or another how extremely unfair it all is to them, which is isn't.

What I find interesting though, is both of these coaches have shown us in the past they are jerks. The previous jerk moves have been forgotten now in the later, bigger scandals, but I think they are worth highlighting.

The two coaches, of course, are Pat Fitzgerald, the erstwhile Northwestern football coach, and Bob Huggins, the former West Virginia men's basketball coach.

Did Fitzgerald know about the hazing going on in his program? I don't know. I do know the buck stops with him, and the despicable details of the hazing warrant a firing. A lot of people seem more angry that Northwestern changed course, going from suspending him for two weeks to firing him because, it seems, of the backlash the two-week suspension got for being overly lenient.

But two weeks was overly lenient, and better the powers that be at Northwestern change course and dole out a more appropriate punishment, even if only because of public opinion, than dig in their heels.

Anyway, back to Fitzgerald-was-already-a-jerk. 2019 was the year. Northwestern just got trucked 31-10 by Michigan State. At the post-game presser, a reporter asked if the problem may have been in some of the play-calling. "Well, we just take 90 hours and play Wii golf all week, what do you think," Fitzgerald said.

"Yeah, I go in every game plan and expect it to work, to be quite honest with you. I understand there's 40,000 experts on Twitter that can call plays for me. My e-mail address is #IDontCare, so shoot that out."

Everybody got that? When Northwestern football fails, it is the players' fault. The plays they run are above reproach and the only way they can possibly not work out comes down on the shoulders of those players.

Everyone forgot about this, but I officially stopped liking Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald at that presser. It was a reasonable question, and any time a team loses, everyone who participates in the lost cause has to look for ways that they can improve and that includes the coaching staff.

Then there's Bob Huggins. Actually, his previous transgression is recent enough that perhaps it hasn't been memory-holed. In May, Huggins was on a radio show and twice used an anti-gay slur to describe Xavier fans (it's three letters in its singular form and starts with f, you know it).

As much as I object to that, what I really want to underscore here is Huggins' hypocrisy. You see, after that incident, he issued a real falling-on-my-sword statement, which said in part, "As I have shared with my players over 40 years of coaching, there are consequences for our words and actions, and I fully accept any coming my way."

I am not seeing any larger statement that continues, "except for drunk driving. I expect to keep my job if I am caught drunk driving; that is one consequence for my actions I do not accept." (He denies resigning and is seeking reinstatement as WV head coach through his lawyer.)

This is really all terribly depressing to me, because it means that words mean nothing to Huggins. At the end of the day, accountability is for others, not him. And if that's the way Bob Huggins feels, well, how many other coaches — leaders of men — feel the same way? Coaches who say all the right stuff about accountability, inclusion (by which I mean, at very least, no hazing), and not doing dumb shit like driving drunk, but act completely the opposite way when the doors are closed?

I mean, it's not like I'm surprised, but it's depressing when it gets rubbed in my face as a lifelong serious devotee of college football and college basketball. If you are not going to set an example for the young student-athletes you coach, just at least be effing decent and not a selfish prick, is that too much to ask?

Leave a Comment

Featured Site