Leach, Gundy Lower the Bar; Big Stanford Basketball News
Ideally, coaches are leaders, teachers, tacticians and mentors. People who inspire us to work hard, play hard, set goals and reach new heights. People who teach life lessons as well as athletic skills and strategy. People who build character, discipline and teamwork. People who espouse core values and lead by example. And, not coincidentally, people who win a lot of games.
That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
But that’s not always the way it is. Some coaches, including those who win a lot of games, fall far short of the ideal.
And last week, two high-profile college football coaches reminded us how sadly lacking they are.
Three months ago, former Washington State and Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was hired by Mississippi State. I’ve never been a fan of Leach’s and predicted that his hiring would be a disappointment, if not a disaster.
Well, it didn’t take him long to prove me prophetic. Leach hasn’t even coached a game yet, but he’s already tweeted a tasteless meme that has left the University in an uproar and caused one of his players to transfer.
The offending tweet included an image of an old woman knitting a hangman’s noose with the caption, “After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf.”
Several MSU players and school officials reacted negatively. One of those players was sophomore defensive tackle Fabien Lovett, who initially responded with "wtf" and then re-tweeted this critical commentary by Fox sports analyst Shannon Sharpe:
“Given the history of Emmett Till and lynchings in the state of Mississippi, Mike Leach, as the head coach of Mississippi State, you seriously thought it would be cool to post a picture that had a noose in it?”
I have to agree with Sharpe. Tweeting the image of a noose in Mississippi is kind of like wearing a swastika to a bar mitzvah.
A few days later, Lovett decided to transfer when Leach offered a half-hearted apology and then, instead of calling the player or his father, had one of his assistants provide his phone number to Lovett's dad.
During his time at Washington State, Leach feuded with the media, calling one respected local columnist a “sanctimonious troll,” attacked Utah Senator Mitt Romney for voting to permit testimony in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, tweeted a doctored video of President Barack Obama that Washington State claimed cost the University $1.6 million, and threw his players under the boss after a tough loss. At Texas Tech, he was sued for locking a player in an equipment shed.
After this latest controversy, the brass at Mississippi State ordered Leach to attend sensitivity training, including visits to Civil Rights Museums and “listening sessions with students, alumni and community groups.”
Good luck with that.
Dr. Gundy: Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, who years ago was excoriated for berating and humiliating a female reporter from the campus newspaper, later was the subject of a Sports Illustrated expose on OSU “hostesses” providing sex to recruits, and earlier this year said "liberalism" was the cause of players transferring, is another character-challenged coach.
In a teleconference with reporters last week, Gundy said he was ready to start practice on May 1. “These players are 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 year olds and they are healthy and they have the ability to flight this virus off," said Dr. Gundy.
Then this: "We need to bring the players back. We need to run money through the state of Oklahoma."
Well at least we know what Gundy’s priorities are. Rather than his players' welfare, Gundy (who gets paid $5 million per year) is focused on running money through the state of Oklahoma and, of course, into his pocket and the OSU Athletic Department's coffers.
Coach K: There was one voice of reason heard last week. Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski told Fox News, “Look: listen to Dr. Fauci. Listen to the scientists. It’s an amazing thing that all these press conferences are being held by coaches. The scientists are the only people I want to hear from. Let’s do the right thing, man.”
Terry Tests Pro Waters: Stanford freshman point guard Tyrell Terry declared for the NBA draft last week. Terry didn’t hire an agent, however, so he can return to Stanford if the feedback from NBA scouts is not as enthusiastic as he’d hoped.
Good thing. I love Terry, but he’s only 6-1, 160, and he continued to make rookie mistakes late in the year. He needs more seasoning and more bulk to play in the NBA. Another year at Stanford would help him mature and hopefully gain 20 pounds.
Prize Recuit: If Terry returns to the Farm, next season could be a very special one indeed for Coach Jared Haase. Yesterday Haase received a commitment from one of the top 10 high school players in the country—Ziaire Williams, a 6-7 forward from Sierra Canyon in Southern California who is ranked No. 5 overall by 247Sports and No. 7 by ESPN. Williams, who was also sought by Duke, North Carolina, Arizona, USC and UCLA, is the highest ranked player Stanford has ever recruited.
If Haase has Williams, Terry, Oscar da Silva, Daejon Davis, Bryce Wills, Spencer Jones and Jaiden Delaire, a Pac-12 championship and national ranking might be in the Cards.