A thinking fan's guide to coaching scandals

Another week, another coach's reputation goes spiraling down the drain. Last week, it was party animal Larry Eustachy's turn on the hot seat. This week, it's Alabama's Mike Price who must answer for certain gaps in his judgement. What do these guys really owe their universities and where do we draw the line on their off-the-field behavior?

Has the coaching profession ever had as many black eyes as it currently does?

By many accounts, Roy Williams, Mr. "Awe Shucks" in public, did all he could to get his athletic director fired at Kansas. Then, he promptly took off to accept a coaching vacancy at North Carolina. Then, old Roy publically announced that his Kansas recruits shouldn't be stuck in Kansas, because he was the reason why they wanted to go to Kansas. Nice, thinly-veiled inducement Roy!

In case you're keeping score at home, enticing recruits to opt out of their LOIs isn't kosher with the NCAA or the prior place of employment.

Before we move on to Larry Eustachy and Mike Price, let's not forget about Jim Harrick who had apparently developed an impressive ring of academic deception in his relatively short tenue at Georgia.

However, the recruiting and academic problems seem rather commonplace when they are compared to the recent alcohol and sex scandals that have surfaced this week.

The stories of Larry Eustachy and Mike Price have been well documented already, so we will not rehash them here.

What does deserve additional examination is exactly what does a coach owe his academic institution when he signs that fat contract? Is that coach only to be judged on how well he does on the court or on the field?

In the era before television, the answer was almost certainly yes.

There are countless stories of coaches who were wild and wooly in their private lives, but because the local media didn't feel it was their duty to report on those types of activities, most of these stories were never printed.

When national television and national advertising revenue became a major consideration for college sports, the roles and expectations of college coaches changed.

Quick, can anybody name the chancellor at Iowa State? How about Alabama? Don't feel bad, I can't either. However, virtually everybody who follows sports now knows about Larry Eustachy and Mike Price due to their off-the-field activities.

The Internet has heightened the scrutiny even further. Now, even trivial issues related to athletes and coaches get blown completely out of proportion. Clearly, by any definition, it has become tougher to be a positive representative of a public university.

However, if that's what you are paid to be...that's the standard to which you should be held. Bear Bryant never drew a $1 million a year salary, even accounting for inflation...neither did Johnny Orr.

The same factors that push coaches salaries into the million dollar range are the factors that compel them to act appropriately, to a fault, when they are in public. To do otherwise will bring shame to themselves, to their universities and to their student bodies and alumni.

Some have argued that if it's not illegal, we should stay out of Eustachy's and Price's private lives.

My opinion is this...if you want the brass ring of a head coaching position at a major institution, you are obligated to take the whole package.

Part of that package involves forfeiting your compulsion to drinking with the kiddies and make lewd suggestions to the party hotties. If you're a big-time coach, uou just have to be smarter than that.

Part of that package involves staying out of hotel rooms with the local working girls and letting them rack up $1,000 in room service in exchange for other services. Is there any way the world wasn't going to find out about THAT?

When trying to decide where the line should be drawn they should ask themselves, "How would this look splashed all over the newspapers and the Internet?" BEFORE doing it.

If the past week has shown us anything, it is this: if you are a big-time coach and you are making an ass of yourself in public...you can bet we will all know about it sooner or later!

The shame of this situation is that both of these men will probably lose their jobs due to their actions. Until recently, I had always heard positive things about Eustachy, and I played for Mike Price when he was an assistant coach at Missouri. The players LOVED Mike Price...he was always considered one of the really good guys.

In contrast, when Al Bohl was fired as athletic director at Kansas, he described the sinister way that Roy Williams wielded his power, "I believe the Kansas basketball coach had the power to hold his athletics director in his hand like a dove,'' Bohl said. "And he had a choice to either crush me with his power of influence or let me fly with my vision for a better, total program. He chose to crush me.''

Eustachy and Price ARE good guys. Williams is not.

Like it or not, coaches can get people fired, can indirectly recruit athletes from other schools through the media, and generally behave like a creep. Just stay away from the college parties and the strip clubs.

Like it or not, we live in a world of immediate news, immediate gossip, and immediate scrutiny. The old rules no longer apply, and we're not going back to the old days.

It's time for coaches to get that through their heads!


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