The NCAA held press conferences with the head coaches from the four Final Four teams on Thursday afternoon, and each one was asked about their reaction to the video of former Rutgers head coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing his players.
To a man, they said that they did not believe it to be a systematic issue as much as it was the result of one coach behaving inappropriately.
Do you believe them?
Or was this simply ‘coachspeak’?
Here is what they said:
I absolutely do not believe there’s that coaching style going on. I do not. I’ll go out where you probably shouldn’t go. I don’t think there’s a coach in the country that does that.
I know Mike Rice. I’ve known him a long time. I like him. I think he’s a very good basketball coach. I think the tragedy is his team would have played exactly the same or better if he hadn’t done any of that. If he never threw a ball, if he never touched anybody, his team would have played I think better, in my experience. You know, I get verbal. I’m on players. I don’t like to curse. I do curse sometimes. You get out of control, just things come out when you’re in the heat of the moment. But you can’t touch a player other than just on the shoulder or something, and you certainly can’t push ’em and grab ’em or throw something at ’em.
I have thrown a ball, and it’s usually up in the stands, and last time I hurt my arm, so I don’t throw them anymore.
I watched 10 seconds of the video. I couldn’t watch it, honestly. I couldn’t watch it anymore. I think sometimes you coach a certain style. There’s coaches that really get after it, are on it. I used to be more like that. Now if I get upset once every week or two, it’s a lot. I found that it really doesn’t make any difference. It’s like yelling at referees. You can yell at them all you want, it’s not going to make any difference, so why do it, why waste the energy, why distract yourself from coaching? I think those are things that as you get a little older, you find… You still yell at them a little bit because they know you’re over there. I think some of them, if you don’t yell at them, they think they’re doing a great job. You don’t want to give them that impression.
I couldn’t watch it. I couldn’t watch it. And I do not believe that happens.
You know, I think, look, we feel bad in the coaching profession for Mike Rice, for the kids that had to go through that, for his family that’s going to have to endure the embarrassment now.
That being said, this is an isolated incident that doesn’t happen in college basketball. Those things do not happen. As a pro coach, I would go to every city and go see a college practice. You know, I’ve seen some coaches that may use rough language. But that just doesn’t go on. It’s just an aberration that just doesn’t go on in college basketball.
I think all the coaches in the community are disappointed at how that transpired. I don’t know Mike Rice well enough. I don’t know the athletic director enough. But I know that in this day and age, there’s certain lines you’re not going to cross with your student athletes. We want young men to play for us because they love coming to the gym every day.
Mike must have done that quite often ’cause he won a lot of games, was very successful. At the same time, those incidents are uncalled for, and I’m sure that Mike regrets it.
With Coach Rice, I feel bad for Mike. I hope that he can get straight and figure out what he needs to do going forward, and gets another opportunity.
I feel really bad for those young men. I hope it didn’t impact any of them negatively to the point where they weren’t able to be good basketball players and finish their careers. There’s obviously a line that was crossed. Unfortunately there’s a lot of people that will suffer now, including Rutgers University and the state of New Jersey.
I’m hopeful that everyone can come out of it in a positive way somehow. That’s it, that everyone can come out of this in a positive way.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.