A couple of weeks ago, the basketball coach at Rutgers University was fired because he never won more than six conference games in a season and became more trouble than he was worth.
Of course, Rice was officially fired because he used several different “F” words in the direction of his players and threw basketballs at them after bad plays in practice.
But if we are honest, nobody would have cared what he said or did if Rutgers was playing in the Final Four, and that is a fact.
Is using “F” words at your players wrong? Absolutely. Is it uncommon? Absolutely not.
Physical contact is nothing new in the coaching world either. Take Bob Knight for example. Knight is on the Mount Rushmore of college basketball coaches, and it would be silly to assume he never grabbed one of his players by the arms and sprinkled a few choice words in that young man’s direction.
The fact of the matter is that competitive athletics is littered with stories of coaches grabbing a player’s facemask or even giving them a shove, that’s the way it goes in sports.
Rice’s record at Rutgers speaks for itself. 44-51 overall, 16-38 in Big East play.
Rice could not put a good basketball team on the floor for three years in a row, and a basketball being hurled at his point guard’s knee caps was the straw that broke the camel’s back, not the primary reason for his removal.
If somehow videos of Coach K or Rick Pitino cursing and pushing their players hit YouTube next week, everyone would shrug their shoulders and maybe even laugh because those coaches win 25 or 30 games a year.
Winning covers a multitude of sins, and nobody would even bat an eyelash if a winning coach lost his cool and used some salty language or yanked at a player’s jersey.
In fact, hundreds of former players would come out of the woodworks to defend their former coach as they polished their championship rings and looked at their banners hanging in the rafters.
What Rice did is wrong and should not be condoned or encouraged by any stretch of the imagination. But, I am sure dozens of basketball coaches around the country saw the Rutgers practice video and thought, “wow- that looks familiar.”
Rice is on the record saying that he regrets the way he treated his players and would not make the same mistake again. However, the biggest mistake he made at Rutgers was losing.