Tuesday, January 29, 2008
And now for a meaningful topic
I suppose it could be fun to continue arguing about what a bunch of whiny bitches Pats fans are, but I said everything that needed to be said in my first and only post on the subject.
However, there's no limit to what I can say about the wave of unabated rage that washed over me while reading this feature on the life and times of Jerramy Stevens, perhaps the single worst person in the history of sports, non-murderer division (we think).
Stevens is pure scum, to be sure, and it's a shame that he's not the kind of person we're torturing in GITMO right now. But he was far from the only criminal to play a role in his sub-human behavior, a point that might be missed by many who read that completely dispiriting (but very well researched and written) story. And, as far as I'm concerned, Rick Neuheisel is as complicit in Stevens' crimes as the man himself. Yes, I realize Slick Rick wasn't the only coach to enable Stevens, but the decision to actually discipline Stevens for a procession of rape, DUI, hit-and-runs and assaults rested on his and former AD Barbara Hedges' shoulders. Hedges was a stupid, opportunistic bitch, for sure, but it is Neuheisel that personifies the college head coach who is pure evil.
And it's only a matter of time before the next horror story presents itself at UCLA, now that they've hired Neuheisel.
I can almost understand a middling program, both athletically and academically, like Arizona State taking a chance on Dennis Erickson. I realize that some people involved in the administration of college athletics think the wages of winning is dealing with despotic coaches who don't believe in discipline for players unless they drop passes. But at least ASU's "reputation" is already that of a sketchy, outlaw program that hasn't leveraged its willingness to trash the school's image into actual success on the field. Erickson only represents a small uptick in trashiness over the dreck that program has run through its halls, and it's clear that the administration will allow him to run everything as he sees fit now that he's already delivered them a top-25 finish and some serious face time on College Gameday.
But UCLA is not Arizona State; they're not even on the same planet. UCLA is supposed to be a beacon of hope for cynics, a superior academic institution that also happens to house the most successful athletic program in the history of college sports. It wasn't that long ago that pathological rules violator Bob Toledo was run out of Westwood, and while his firing was ostensibly the result of poor on-field performance, the athletic department didn't exactly deny that the coach's reputation as a snake was a factor as well. The Bruins have long gravy-trained the good name of legend John Wooden, who managed to dominate the college hoops landscape without soiling the institution's good name. In fact, there's good reason to believe that UCLA's vaunted status as an academic institution has been bolstered by the successes of the basketball program and the rest of the academic department.
But USC's success under Pete Carroll — who, thanks to Reggie Bush, is no longer unscathed by scandal himself — has obviously convinced the higher-ups at UCLA that valuing character in the upper-reaches of its football program comes with too high a cost; it only took one truly disappointing season on the part of erstwhile coach Karl Dorrell (who seemed like a swell guy) for him to get shit-canned, a decision made with such apparent haste in large part because Neuhesiel was available.
As an Arizona partisan who watched UCLA's football program destroy the Wildcats' best chance at a Rose Bowl in 1998, I will revel in schadenfreude when Neuheisel inevitably begins to destroy the Bruins' reputation (who will give me 100-1 odds on UCLA getting the NCAA death penalty in the next 10 years?). But as a fan of college sports, I'm disheartened to see that it's easier to break out of Alcatraz than it is to convince university presidents and athletic directors to concern themselves with character.
Addendum: The Times followed up the Stevens piece with another piece on Curtis Williams, another horrible former Husky who actually received the death he so richly deserved after (ironically) a dirty hit on the field. And then, to top it all off, b found some fucking UW blogger says he's still on the fence about UW erecting a statue in that fucking wife-beater's honor! Man, it's days like this that make me wish we had colonized Mars already.