If you read enough news stories, you'll notice some patterns. Like a referee in sports, if a writer does a good job, you don't notice who wrote the article. If the writer is obviously pushing their agenda and doing a bad job of reporting, you'll notice that too. You make a mental note and after 2 or three bad articles by the same writer, you just kind of know what the score is with that writer. Just like you moan when you see a certain referee in a big game.
One of those bad writers is Nancy Armour at the USA Today. Earlier in the week she took a run at Auburn's Bruce Pearl. When I first saw the headline, I thought "wow, Bruce Pearl must be a worse guy than I thought." Then I saw "by Nancy Armour" in the byline and I immediately corrected myself, Pearl must have pissed in the wrong person's Cheerios.
Bruce Pearl got on my radar when he was at Tennessee. I liked Bruce Pearl, I would listen to him when he was on the Jim Rome Show and he seemed like quite a character. I was impressed that he could win college basketball games at a traditional football powerhouse and I liked that he and Pat Summitt seemed to have a whole Basketball University vibe going together.
Of course things went bad for Pearl at Tennessee. In college basketball, if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'. Pearl was busted for lying about recruiting violations and, of all things, a backyard barbecue. But very few good college basketball coaches are squeaky clean, so in my mind, they're either a-holes or cheaters. Apparently Pearl was a cheater.
In his defense, though, he broke NCAA rules. He didn't break the law. In order to win in college basketball, you have to have the best players. How do you get the best players to your school?
Ahem, ahem, cough cough
So Nancy Armour is convinced that Pearl is a worse cheater than the other cheaters (because he got caught) and is none too pleased that Pearl landed on his feet at Auburn. Again, somehow Pearl is making college basketball work at a historically great FOOTBALL school. She was obviously rooting for North Carolina in the story above.
Surprisingly, Auburn stomped on North Carolina. I was stunned and I think most of the nation was stunned also. Reading the follow up story in the USA Today, in the comments section, a good ol' boy named Fleetwood Davant wanted Nancy Armour to know he didn't appreciate her input. He knew the score with Armour's history.
I tried to click on the Add a comment section to put in my 2 cents worth, but of course the comments section was frozen. Screw the USA Today, I have a Blog....
Before I could type ONE SINGLE WORD, guess what I found at the Opelika-Auburn News?
As a free speech website, you don't know how much Troy Turner has warmed my heart....
Everybody has a last straw moment in their lives, whether it be in an interpersonal relationship or even with a corporate entity. You know how many people I know who have said "I'm never eating at McDonald's again!" Then you ask them their last straw moment and it was something like "they didn't give me any ketchup in my bag at the drive-thru." Innocuous and petty, it wasn't the ketchup incident that drove them over the edge, it was the accumulation of dozens of other crappy service fails in their lives.
And college basketball is no different. When I was growing up, I rooted hard for Kevin Mackey and the Cleveland State University Vikings. Kevin Mackey didn't slightly break the rules at CSU, he tried to break EVERY rule, (and I could argue that CSU's most successful years were under Mackey.)
But in my mind, Mackey was the exception in college basketball. Year in and year out though, I came to suspect that Mackey was an overamped version of the norm. Two moments defined my perception today that ALL college basketball coaches BEND the rules at least a little:
In the year 2010, I read an excellent article by Bill Livingston at cleveland.com. John Wooden was the king of a different (and not pristine) era in college basketball. I had never even heard a WHISPER about John Wooden not being Saint Wooden, then you come to find out that Wooden was almost single-handedly the reason why there's rules on boosters.
Kyrie Irving was recruited by Basketball Hall-of-Famer Mike Krzyzewski. Let me get this straight, Kyrie Irving went to a college Prep School, then got into Duke, the "Harvard of the South," all the while believing that the Earth is Flat? If you want to go to Cleveland State, that's fine, think what you want, but you can't get into Duke being that stupid.
You could say that every time I type a word, I'm pushing my agenda, and I'll listen to that argument, all I'm trying to say is that Pearl broke some NCAA rules and then he got another college basketball job. It's really that simple. If Armour wants to be mad, that's fine too, but ask the people of Kansas about Roy Williams' character. If Armour is mad at Pearl, she basically has to be mad at all of college basketball.
Bruce Pearl is NOT Rick Pitino.