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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Sunday, February 22, 2004

Time For A Regime Change

Colorado finally stopped screwing around and did what it should have done several weeks ago, when all the allegations about sex parties and rape on its campus by football players began swirling. Better late than never, though, and the university came to its senses and put coach Gary Barnett on administrative leave.

I'd say I didn't think it was possible to handle criminal allegations in a worse way than Barnett has, but then again, we all saw what happened at Baylor last year, so unfortunately, we see that it can be done. While Barnett didn't go the Dave Bliss route and try to orchestrate a cover-up (at least, it doesn't seem like that yet), Barnett is decidedly guilty of being painfully ignorant of what is going on with his program.

You can be just about positive that the first time Barnett learned of these issues was not in the past few months. However, Barnett (and I'm sure many other coaches in his situation, unfortunately) placed no emphasis at all on character and conduct off the field. While winning is important, it isn't a substitute, license, or an excuse for misconduct off the field.

While Colorado took a step in the right direction and placed Barnett on administrative leave, they should have gone two better. First, Barnett should be fired. Second, the next coach must come from outside the program.

Barnett should be fired, and here's why. If a coach knowingly allows his players to participate in the kind of off-field criminal acts that the Buffaloes did, then that's clearly cause for letting him go. Also, if a coach is so unaware of the off-field actions of his players as Barnett claims to be, then he's clearly not in touch with his team and isn't doing a good job as coach. One of these two is true, so there you have it.

If that's not enough to convince you, consider this. Back in 2000, a female kicker on his team, Katie Hnida, was raped by a teammate. It should go without saying that rape is horrible and perhaps the most disrespectful thing you could ever do to another person. And Hnida was raped by a teammate. What kind of coach runs a team where that could happen between teammates? It's reprehensible that the environment for that to happen even existed under Barnett. It was clear that he had to go.

The problems at Colorado date back to before Barnett was even their head coach. Barnett came on board in 1999. Since 1997, there have been seven accusations of rape against Colorado football players (one was withdrawn). So the pattern of behavior isn't all traceable to Barnett's mismanagement of the team; it seems to be somewhat institutional. Therefore, it would only make sense to bring someone from outside the program to replace Barnett as head coach and give the team a fresh start.

What did Colorado do? They named Barnett's assistant head coach to be their interim coach. Not only is Brian Cabral part of Barnett's coaching staff, he's defending Barnett. Cabral is more a part of Colorado football than Barnett is - he'd been a coach with the team for 10 years before Barnett arrived, and he played for the Buffs as well. If you want to change the direction of the program, putting a Colorado lifer in charge isn't going to do it.

Hopefully the bigwigs at Colorado realize this and don't remove the interim tag from Cabral's title. The school needs a new direction, and the only way to do that is to bring in a new coaching staff with a different philosophy of running a football team. It's clear to everyone but those at Colorado that what's been going on in Boulder has only resulted in disaster.

***

On a lighter note, I present a funny story about a victimless crime. Rapper Pastor Troy, who isn't a particularly prominent star, was arrested in Atlanta on Friday when sherrif's deputies pulled over his yellow pickup truck. The cops found a little less than an ounce of weed in the truck, which isn't really the funny part.

When they started questioning the noted theologist (that's a joke, people), he gave them a fake name. Not smart if you're a celebrity, even a D-list celebrity like Pastor Troy. Sadly, the cops fell for the fake name for a little bit. They only became suspicious when passers-by started calling out "Pastor Troy" to the rapper. Then, when they searched the car, they found his CD with his picture on the cover.

I'm sure his response to that was, "No, officer, that's the other unknown rapper named Pastor Troy."

***

ESPNEWS Jinx update: Sure enough, Patrick Ramsey lost his job when the Redskins signed Mark Brunell. The lesson? Beware the ESPNEWS studio...

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