DEVILLE: Sports needs more Bob Starkeys

Latrell Sprewell said he didn't want to help the Minnesota Timberwolves win a world championship. And why should he?

"Why would I want to help them win a title?" Sprewell said back in 2004. "They're not doing anything for me. I've got a lot at risk here. I've got my family to feed."

 

At the time, Sprewell was making $14.6 million per year.

 

 

Ron Artest, who was responsible for one of the grossest displays in pro sports history instigating a fight in a 2004 game against Detroit, was recently benched for two games after asking for a vacation to promote his rap CD. That request came during an NBA season in which he was being paid multiple millions of dollars by the Indiana Pacers, a team which, at the time, was contending for a playoff spot.

 

 

Rex Grossman. That should be enough said, but his 2006 regular season finale makes this list.

 

After posting a passer rating of 0.0 in the regular-season finale, Grossman admitted that he was not prepared to play, citing his anticipation for New Year's Eve.

 

"It's the last game, it's New Year's Eve, and there were so many other factors that brought my focus away from what is actually important," Grossman said.

 

In that game on Dec. 31, 2006, Grossman, who eventually quarterbacked the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl, completed 2 of 12 passes for 33 yards with three interceptions.

 

The Bears lost that game 26-7.

 

 

Bob Starkey.

 

Forced to take the reigns of a Lady Tiger basketball program shrouded in scandal, Starkey, a career assistant, guided the Lady Tigers to four straight victories in the NCAA Tournament and into the program's fourth straight Final Four.

 

Even after being begged to assume the role as head coach, Starkey dismissed the idea. He even went so far as to decline any special monetary bonuses after the team achieved such a high level of success.

 

 

Hey Latrell, Ron and Rex, take some notes here.

 

 

After coach Pokey Chatman's shocking resignation for inappropriate conduct with former players, Starkey was thrust into the spotlight as LSU prepared for the Big Dance. Going into last weekend, Starkey had the Lady Tigers in their best position ever to win a national title. Coming off a 73-50 blowout of No. 1 seed Connecticut in the regional finals, folks began toying with the notion that Starkey should be retained as LSU's next head coach.

 

Starkey feels otherwise.

 

"I'm just absolutely not interested in it. I don't think it's what's best for LSU or me," Starkey told Christine Brennan of USA Today. "I think our administration understands that and feels the same way. There have been conversations. We're all on the same page.

"A coaching staff is no different than a basketball team. If you're going to have success, everybody has to know their roles. Part of knowing your role is understanding your limitations."

 

An assistant coach at LSU for 17 years, the first seven with the men's program under Dale Brown, the last 10 with the Lady Tigers, Starkey said he is just that, an assistant coach.

 

After Chatman resigned on March 7, Starkey immediately met with the media and said he would not entertain the thought of becoming of the head coach at LSU. An X's and O's guy, Starkey doesn't like the responsibilities of recruiting and public appearances that comes along with being a head coach. After four victories in the NCAA Tournament, he remains firm on his decision.

 

"I have not changed my mind," Starkey told Glenn Guilbeau of the Gannett News Service. "Not at all. I'm an assistant coach.

 

"I'm less interested in the job now than I was two weeks ago," Starkey said. "It's a lot more than I thought it would be. I'm not a head coach."

 

Starkey deflected the Lady Tigers recent success away from himself saying people shouldn't get so excited after just four games.

 

"People need to realize they're judging me as a head coach based on four games," Starkey told Guilbeau. "And if I go out and lose to Rutgers by 28, they'll start a FireBobStarkey.com website. I like being an assistant."

 

Then there is the case of the money.

 

Chatman, who is still being paid her salary of $400,000 through the end of April, would have received roughly $160,000 in bonuses had she led the Lady Tigers to the Final Four.

LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said he would consider paying that money to Starkey for the job he has done.

 

"I could give him a bigger bonus," Bertman said. "He's done a great job. He could win the national championship. We've asked him if he's interested in the head coaching job permanently, but he's not interested. He's really not interested. It's not a show."

 

Starkey, who makes $113,000 a year as an assistant, said he would not accept any additional incentive compensation as reward for his duties as acting head coach. He stands to earn $13,000 in bonus money as an assistant.

 

"I wouldn't accept another bonus if they offered it," Starkey said. "They wouldn't need to pay me any more."

 

So as it stands, Starkey will likely not be the next head coach of the Lady Tigers. The question remains now would this 17-year LSU veteran be retained as part of the next coaching staff?

 

"Bobby is doing what he needs to do because LSU asked him," said Sherie Starkey, the wife of Bob Starkey, about her husband becoming the head coach. "But it's taking away from what he loves and what he does best. He loves behind the scenes and breaking down tape and telling players what they need to do. Bob doesn't have an ego. That's the kind of guy he is, and I love him."

 

It's obvious, though, Starkey loves Baton Rouge. He said he would consider another career path if he isn't asked to stay at LSU by the next head coach.

 

"I've thought about doing something else if I don't get to stay because my wife loves Baton Rouge," Starkey said. "I wouldn't rule out getting another job here if I can't stay on as an assistant."

 

Truthfulness. Intergrity. Commitment. Loyalty. Let's hope he is asked to stay because the sports world needs a lot more Bob Starkeys.

 

---

 

Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at matt@tigerrag.com.


Tiger Blitz Top Stories