Warning: There will be some language in this post inappropriate for children and sensitive readers. Proceed at your own risk. TB
Long time readers of this blog will know that I have had issues with the Wichita Eagle before. Last time, it was a story by Jeffrey Martin, the K-State beat writer who I generally think does an excellent job covering Wildcat sports for the Eagle. He has also started a K-State blog that has some good information.
This time, my focus turns to Eagle columnist Bob Lutz. Lutz is reviled in many K-State circles as an insufferable KU homer, but I could write that off because every sportswriter is hated by somebody if he’s doing his job well. It reminds me of a comment I heard a referee make after a particularly contentious state tournament game: "We had the fans of both teams mad at us, so we must have been doing something right."
But anyway, enough background. Today, Lutz apparently got tired of talking about how great KU is at football this year, or spraying deodorant on the turd that is Wichita State basketball this year, and decided to look for something negative to say about Ron Prince and Frank Martin.
We’ll get to his Prince comments in a minute. The real gem is what he said about Martin.
Lutz is apparently concerned that Martin is a bit of a potty-mouth on the bench.
"But one of my fears concerning his hiring has played out so far because of his demeanor, specifically his language, on the bench."
Don’t lie to us, Bob. You don’t care if something bad happens to K-State. You love it. You revel in it. You’d take a bath in it, if you could.
Lutz goes on to state a specific instance of Martin’s naughty verbosity, specifically one aimed at Blake Young. I watched the George Mason game to which Lutz is referring. I did catch one time when Martin appeared to drop the f-bomb when yelling at, well, someone. But I did not catch the exchange in question, between Martin and Young. I’ll let Lutz describe it as he interpreted it:
"Martin called Young one of the most vile things anyone can be called during a timeout and the words coming from his lips could not be misconstrued."
(Note: It should be "vilest," Bob, not "most vile.")
Excessive use of foul language is a failure of communication abilities, and should not be looked at as an admirable trait. And anytime I hear an adult using foul language in front of children, I cringe.
All that said, we’re talking about college basketball players, not little children. These guys are at least 18, some are as old as 22 or 23. While that’s young, I seem to remember that I had heard every word in the book by the time I was in about second grade, and that’s growing up out in the country. As for kids watching on TV, I doubt they pick up much from reading lips, although apparently they can take a class from Lutz.
Finally, I must make note of one more Lutz comment:
"He is representing a university, not just a basketball team. There is no way a professor would get away with calling a student some of the names Martin calls his players."
Balderdash. In my sociology class, spring semester, freshman year at K-State, I had a professor yell, "Yeah, fuck you buddy!" and flip the bird to a student who left his class early. If you’re really interested, I can look up the professor’s name sometime. So don’t tell me he’s getting special treatment, because I never heard of anything happening to that professor. And considering that it was a classroom filled with about 100 young Kansans, I’m pretty sure somebody in there held religious beliefs that preclude the use of the f-word and the giving of a middle-finger salute.
You can also spare me the "representing his university" argument. I didn’t see this argument made last year when Bob Huggins was the coach, and I picked up plenty of four-letters coming from the bench last year. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t catch a Lutz column last year condemning Huggins for his "Godfather-esque" language, probably because Lutz would wet himself if he ever had to face up to that comment in front of Huggins.
Here’s what I want as the representation of my university: I want a basketball team that wins, and doesn’t get in trouble with the NCAA. I could not care less how my coach motivates his players, short of doing something illegal, obviously. If it takes a four-letter-word laced tirade to get a player’s attention, do it. If it takes a slap on the rump and a "you’ll get it next time, slugger" do that instead. People are motivated in different ways. I remember a high school volleyball game where one coach’s team was playing poorly, and the coach got a yellow card from the refs for yelling about calls. There weren’t really any calls that were questionable, but the coach was angry and had to vent. Screaming at her players for their poor play would likely have had the opposite of the desired effect, so the coach went with a different tact.
Now, here’s where the story gets really, really good. Here’s where the hypocrite part in the post title comes in. I’m sure we all remember the Mark Mangino explosion from earlier this year:
I looked back through the archive of Lutz’s columns to see what he had said about Mangino. I had forgotten that he even wrote about it, so I was thinking maybe he hadn’t said anything, and was ready to call out his hypocrisy for letting Mangino slide while taking Martin to task.
I got far more than I ever could have bargained for.
Back on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007, Lutz did indeed write about Mangino’s outburst. I shall provide you some snippets from that day’s rag:
"Mangino rips into Pendleton, who made a showboating dive into the end zone following a 77-yard punt return.
Good for Mangino."
Cussing: Good for Mangino. Bad for Martin.
"I'm not saying all of the bad language used by Mangino needed to be used. But it was the heat of the moment and he was rightly disgusted by Pendleton's hot-dogging."
Apparently, only football coaches get caught up in the heat of the moment. Or maybe just KU coaches. Or maybe it’s only OK to chew out a player for hot-dogging, and not sub-par performances over several games.
"So he chewed out his player -- just as coaches have done to players since the beginning of organized athletics."
It’s all fine and dandy, because coaches have done it before. Oh wait, that happened before the Martin episode. So coaches have been doing this since the beginning of time, which excuses Mangino, but not Martin, whose episode came later in time? I’m confused, Bob.
"Even so, to put the video on its website was a blatant attempt to get hits on the site. It's telling that the television station took down the video after only one day, explaining it didn't want to embarrass the player."
Yes, Bob, and your only reason for doing this was...what? Oh yeah, to get a reaction, and to try and embarrass Frank Martin. Unless you thought you were fixing a major injustice in the world, by sticking up for Blake Young, somebody you "don’t even know."
"Mangino's tirade against Pendleton could qualify as newsworthy, I suppose, but there was no need to air the video."
Right, Bob. But there was reason to talk about Martin calling Young a mean name?
And finally, the real kicker...
"News flash: Coaches often cuss. But as long as they keep it out of the public domain, and within their team, it's not a big deal."
News flash, indeed. But when K-State coaches cuss, it must become part of the public domain if Bob Lutz wants to write about it. The real question: how is Martin cussing on the sidelines at a basketball game any different from Mangino cussing on the sidelines at a football game? Both are within range of a camera lens, which is obviously what Lutz has his whitey-tighties in a bunch over.
I’m sure Lutz’s distinction will be that Martin used some sort of vile name, while Mangino "only" used the f-word. But I have no idea. Until he answers my email and tells me what Martin said, I can only speculate. Stick with what you’re good at, Bob. Shocker basketball is right over there at the Roundhouse. Don’t strain yourself by getting worried about all the jerkhead things Frank Martin says.
And to tie all this together, here’s the utterly ironic title to that September column:
"Sidelines are made for coach meltdowns"
As for Prince, there isn’t really much that is surprising here, although it sounds fairly similar to some recent comments made in this space:
Lutz: "Prince made coaching decisions in the Nebraska and Missouri games that caused eyebrows to be raised. And there are rumors of upcoming turnover in the coaching staff. Again.
Prince, I'm sure, thought he would be farther along by the end of his second season. Still, it's too early to write him off. He will need to show progress next season, though, and it won't be easy to move up in the Big 12 North because the five other teams in the division will return a lot of good players."
BOTC: "With all that said, we need to look at where we are within the Big 12 North division. Mizzou is one game from playing for a national title. KU went 11-1 this year. Colorado is bowl-eligible this year after going 2-10 last year. Iowa State appears to have made major strides this year under Gene Chizik, despite the overall record. Only Nebraska is in a big hole, but with the athletes they have up there, vast improvement could occur if they bring in a coach whose offense doesn't require NASA rocket scientists to understand and a defensive coordinator who can actually coach."
Anyway, like I said, the Prince stuff isn’t all that earth-shattering.