Monday, October 26, 2015

Why Coach Pitino Isn't Sweating The Louisville Sex Scandal

First of all let's dispense with a primary question in the University of Louisville sex scandal.
Head basketball coach Rick Pitino claims he didn't know anything about the campus sex parties, featuring paid escorts, organized by then director of basketball operations Andre McGee for players, recruits and others between 2010-14, costing $10,000. The details surfaced recently in a book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules,"  by Katina Powell, who organized the parties.

Face it, Pitino knew. Naturally, he says he didn't know, but he most certainly did..

There's no way those activities could have happened for years without Pitino, an obsessive control freak who keeps close track of everything involving his program, knowing about them.  If you're talking a few isolated parties that cost chump change, maybe they might have happened behind his back. But years worth of parties involving thousands of dollars, something that could topple his regime? No way he didn't know.

Sources at Louisville said those parties were so notorious, people outside the sports department knew about them, and wished they were invited. According to the sources, the parties detailed by Powell in her book were just the tip of the iceberg. There were more women and drugs and money involved. But investigators will probably never catch the others. The cover-up began as soon as word leaked out about the book.

The fact that college athletes and those surrounding them are treated to sex parties is no surprise. The only surprise is that Louisville was dumb enough to get caught.

Sex and drugs are integral parts of most college basketball programs, particularly the bigger ones, like Louisville. Those parties have long been considered one of the perks of being part of the basketball program. Reports an ex-player for an SEC team:

"Sluts and pot, they go hand in hand with college basketball. It's one way of paying the players  We get a little money under the table and occasionally girls and pot, That's college basketball. Even after you graduate you can get in on those sex and drug goodies. That's the way it is everywhere. Nobody wants it to go away. Everybody keeps it quiet and enjoys the hell out of it. The bitch who wrote that book about the Louisville parties ruined it for everybody--for a while anyway. Those parties won't be happening on any campuses til this dies down. But they will be back."

What about Pitino?  Is he in any danger of being fired?

It's doubtful. McGee, the coach who set up the parties, has been working for the University of Missouri--Kansas City in the past year. He has already resigned that post. Looks like he's the Louisville fall-guy. Every school has a plan in place to protect the head coach, who is carefully isolated from the dirty, illegal essentials. The filthy footprints never lead to his door. When the crap hits the fan, the layers of protection are so well set up that the head coach, particularly at the top schools, is never soiled.

But this case is a little different. Powell, who served as the madam for the Louisville parties, is peddling a book, so she's on the major media circuit. Consequently this scandal, unlike most, has legs and may snowball into something big enough to knock down Pitino.

But if he is forced to resign from Louisville it could be a blessing for him  He wouldn't be unemployed for long..Athletic directors from many colleges, waving fat contracts, will line up to hire him. He'll be tainted but so what? Those schools won't care.

Bottom line, he's one of the top five coaches in the college game. In the end, the way things are, that's all that matters.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fire SC Athletic Director Pat Haden, Now !

Southern Cal's athletic director Pat Haden is toast. 

It's not official yet, but he's finished. You don't royally screw up the way Haden has in the Steve Sarkisian mess--angering fans and big-money boosters--and keep your job.

Two years ago, Haden hired a football coach who should never have been hired--Steve Sarkisian, a former SC assistant in the Pete Carroll era who, as head coach, had turned around the sagging U of Washington program.

Sarkisian, sadly, is an alcoholic.

You can bet Haden, who is no dummy, knew about Sark's problem, but figured it was manageable. Haden downplayed the problem because he was anxious to hire another link to the Pete Carroll era--just like Lane Kiffin, who Sark replaced. Sark's drinking problem was apparently no secret in Seattle, so there is little chance Haden didn't know about it. That was one of many reasons Sark wasn't that popular up there. Word is many fans and boosters were happy to see him go.

This season, Sark's second, after his respectable 9-4 debut, was supposed to the big one, with the Trojans trumpeted as strong PAC 12 title contenders. Instead, it's been a two-loss disaster, beginning with his drunken speech at an SC fan event in late August and culminating with a Coliseum loss, 17-12, last week to his old school, Washington. Word is leaking out that Sark smelled of booze, at games and practices, often during the season. According to sources close to two players, the team knew about his alcohol excesses and some players were disturbed by it and questioned him as a leader. No question, Sark's problem had a negative effect on the team. A responsible AD would have been on top of the situation and taken action. Haden did not.

With that August incident, Sark embarrassed himself, the team and the university. Haden should have dumped him then. Even though the coach was reportedly hung over and in no condition to coach a practice last Sunday, Haden still didn't act decisively, but just placed him on indefinite leave. It was the outrage of the SC nation and big boosters that finally forced Haden to fire him the next day. Offensive coordinator Clay Felton will lead the team for the rest of the season. Once again SC had to fire a head coach mid-season. This time the blame falls solely on Haden.

Sark wasn't Haden's lone coaching-hire misfire. The other black mark against him is basketball coach Andy Enfield. In two years he has coached the Trojans to consecutive last-place PAC 12 finishes. They are the laughing-stock of the conference.

Enfield was hot for a minute a few years ago when he coached obscure Florida Gulf Coast, of the Atlantic Sun Conference, to the Sweet 16, the first 15-seed in tournament history to get that far. His main accomplishment in that 2012-13 tourney? Just winning two games, over two good teams, Georgetown and San Diego State, to reach the regional semis. Bottom line, he was a coach in a rinky-dink conference. He's simply not PAC 12 coaching material and is in way over his head. Blame Haden for that foolish hire too.

Haden has proved he's lousy at picking head coaches. Is this the guy the SC nation wants choosing the next coach? Don't think so.

According to inside sources, the pressure from some big-money boosters is mounting to can Haden. The feeling is that he's in a shaky position and any coach he hires will be in a shaky position too. If Haden is fired where does that leave the new coach? So, with Haden in charge, top coaches might shy away from SC, realizing they might wind up working for a different AD. Also, with Haden still in charge, you know recruiters from rival schools will use that against SC, painting a bleak picture of a program in chaos..

The USC ship has sprung a leak. It desperately needs a new captain..