While we all can (well, most of us can) agree that the Mike Rice practice video that recently got himself and Athletic Director Tim Pernetti fired is pretty awful.
So the guys over at The Big Lead spoke to a former Rutgers team manager as well as a former player to find out if Rice’s antics were an all-the-time affair.
Austin Johnson, a senior forward said he and others on the team were “shocked” when Rice was suspended and fined in December for the transgressions. But immediately it was swept under the rug since the university didn’t release any details on the case.
Then the Outside The Lines piece aired, and after that, everything changed.
Though according to the team manager, Seth Mucha, outbursts like the ones that Rice had in those practice videos weren’t as common as it appears.
“Once every couple weeks or every month.” He added, “[Rice’s] intentions were to get the most out of his players. I was there for two years and I never thought he was trying to hurt anyone.”
The story goes on with Mucha and Johnson defending Rice as a coach, though they definitely weren’t defending Rice for his use of offensive slurs and generally awful language towards his team on these occasions.
“He was wrong for what he did and how he went about it,” Johnson said. “But I know his intentions were to try to change the culture and turn Rutgers into a winning program.”
Both men said that Rice was more cognizant of his temper and his overall mood last season, much better than the previous two seasons. Though it didn’t seem to matter to the Rutgers brass when time came to make a decision.
Johnson was not one of the players abused by Rice. He added that he believes that Rice will coach again, because everyone forgives.
“I thought this country was built on second chances and forgiveness,” Johnson said. “You can forgive the President and other coaches … with time and space, people will forget and maybe he’ll be able to coach again.”
Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten