The KinderGarden

Folks, you need a timeout.

The "discussion" (and I use that term loosely, because it implies rational discourse and intelligent thought) over the Chris Henry situation has reached manic proportion. Message boards are humming with enough electrons to light up the state, misanthropic talk radio hosts are pouring gasoline on the fire, and there are sure to be another round of columns in Tuesday's newspapers concerning head coach Rich Rodriguez' decision to sit Henry out for at least the first half of Saturday's game against Rutgers. Most of those will no dobut condemn Rodriguez' decision. My question is, why all the fuss?

No, I'm not questioning Coach Rod's decision. Until proven otherwise, I trust him to make the best decisions for the football program. Do I agree with them all? Of course not. But I'm not going to question it without some solid facts to back them up.

Oh, sure, people say they are "embarrassed" by Henry's actions. Give me a break. That's a catch phrase that people utter without thinking. Did you go to work today ashamed to show your face because Chris reacted to a bunch of Rutgers fans who were throwing bottles and yelling obscenities at him? Or because he folded his arms? Yeah, right.

In fact, I wish Rodriguez hadn't announced his decision at all. I wish he would have made everyone wait until Saturday and actually watch the game to see what unfolded. Not only would he have kept Temple guessing, but he also could have proved a point - that many fans don't really notice what's going on during the game. After all, how many people realize that Henry didn't play in the first quarter against Rutgers?

Of course, given today's immediate trial by public opinion, wasn't an option. The same people that have vilified Henry and are equating Rodriguez as "soft on crime" would have been ripping Rodriguez even more vociferously. And that's a shame, because disciplinary actions such as these should remain in house. The details should remain private, just as any disciplinary action that many of these same people have been subjected to at their jobs have been. Wonder how you'd feel if your three day suspension for throwing spitballs in class or being insubordinate to your manager were exposed to the merciless scrutiny of the public eye?

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any discussion, or that everything should be done in secret. Players and coaches know, or quickly learn, that they live in a fishbowl, and not the ones served at Mario's. It's just hard for me to understand the ugliness and bad feelings that have come roaring out of everyone over what, to me, is about a 2 on the news scale of 1 to 10.

For some reason, however this topic has become a lightning rod. And I just don't see why. Sure, it merits some discussion. But all this vitriol? Maybe people are just venting from the frustration of viewing their 10,000,000th political ad of the season. I hope that's all it is. I hope it's just a sign of how much people care about WVU athletics. But I'm afraid it's a little deeper than that.

Another point is that everyone wants to rush in and condemn, preach, villify and threaten without knowing the entire situation. 99.999% of the people with an opinion on the matter don't know the entire story. They don't know what personal issues Henry might have. They don't see what happens in practice every day. They don't know what he does off the field (no incidents to our knowledge). As Rodriguez noted this afternoon, all of those things go into the decision as well, not just a few moments on the field last Saturday. And without all that knowledge, I'm amazed at the number of people who want blood. As Greg Hunter asked me today on his return trip from printing and mailing this week's issue of the newspaper, "Did they just chop off his arms, or his legs too?"

Don't get the idea that I don't think Chris was in the wrong. He was. And he is going to pay a price, even if you think he's not.

For those who think that sitting out three quarters (of a possible total of 48 this year) isn't significant, think again. All those hundreds of hours of work through the offseason are pointed toward a mere 12 hours of clock gametime. Missing at least 6% of that available time (one quarter against Rutgers and at least two against Temple) is a hit. If you don't think so, how about sending me 6% of your salary and see if you miss it?

I know I'm probably going to catch heat for this opinion. And that's ok. I probably won't change many minds either. But maybe, somewhere out there, someone will read this and decide "enough is enough". If you do, you're invited to join me in my little corner while the madness continues.

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