Thursday, December 24, 2009

Discussing the Rutgers talk from The Kornheiser Show

I was going to take the day off—and give all of you a day off—to contemplate the holidays and the joys of the season.

Then this morning someone told me I needed to check the comments from my appearance yesterday on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show (which you can listen to here on the blog if you so desire).

It seems I’ve upset some Rutgers people by saying bad things about the school’s football coach and athletic director. The irony is, if you listen, I started my response to Tony’s question about a long simmering controversy at Rutgers about the importance of—and the money spent on—athletics by saying, “look, Rutgers is a very good school.” Tony instantly challenged that because he believes the only institution of higher learning in the United States that is any good is Binghamton, his alma mater.

I then said that there had been an ongoing battle between the academic side at Rutgers and the jock side over how much should be invested in trying to have a good football team. One angry poster conceded that was true but said the battle was, “completely un-necessary.” Perhaps true but there’s no doubting its existence.

I then said that Greg Schiano was a good coach and a bad guy. That set Rutgers people off and they demanded I ‘back up,’ those comments. Okay, here goes.
  • Schiano is not (as you point out) the only coach who runs up scores. But he constantly insists he’s NOT running up the score. A few years ago, up 42-0 in the SECOND quarter against Norfolk State (Norfolk State?) he used all three of his time outs to score again before halftime. He then insisted the move was justified because you never knew if a team might rally in the second half. Please.
  • The first time Schiano took a team to play at Navy he was sent—as is customary—a pre-game itinerary. Navy’s is a little different than most schools because the Brigade of Midshipmen marches on before the game, which means the teams (BOTH teams) need to leave the field a few minutes earlier than normal. Coaches are always alerted to this and know it is part of playing a game at Navy. Schiano not only objected, he kept his team on the field while the brigade began its march-on. Then he insisted after the game he hadn’t been informed about the march-on. Sorry Rutgers folks, that just wasn’t the case.
  • Schiano (like a lot of coaches) is an absolute control freak. Did any of you watch the bowl game? Even the ESPN sideline reporter was frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t get anything resembling a semi-honest answer—or any answer at all—about Rutgers players who came out of the game hurt. What was Schiano doing, hiding an injury from next week’s opponent? Oh wait, the next game isn’t until September. Again, he’s certainly not unique in doing this but it gets old with all these guys.

As for Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, as it happens, I have had direct, unpleasant dealings with him dating back several years. Without going into too much detail—we’ve all got better things to do—this is what happened: Pernetti was program director (or something) at CBS College Sports and they picked up the rights to The Patriot League basketball package, which I had done since its inception as the color commentator. Pernetti had cut a deal with the league that the network would pay the production costs for the Army-Navy game (usually it is the other way around) but HE wanted control of the so-called ‘talent,’ for that game.

If there’s one game in that package I always want to do and believe I should do it is Army-Navy. I got a call from Billy Stone, who worked then as now for CBS College and is a friend of Pernetti’s. “If you want to do Army-Navy you’re going to have to send Tim an e-mail and ask him to let you do it,” he said.

“What?”

“I’m telling you, this is the way Tim is. He likes to feel in control of things.”

I was tempted to say the heck with it (or something worse) but I decided to play the silly game. I wrote Tim a note, pointed out my connection to the two schools (in case he didn’t know) and said it was important to me to do that game. I always asked Carolyn Femovich, the league’s executive director, to let Tim know that the league wanted me to do the game. Tim wrote back and said he would be happy to have me do the game.

Okay, fine. A ridiculous ritual but I swallowed my pride and dealt with it. That was in August. A week before the game I received an e-mail from Pernetti. It said that Steve Lappas would be doing color on the game and he would like to “invite,” me to “play a role in the telecast.”

I wrote back and said, “no thanks.”

His response was to write back and ask me, “what the problem was.” I said that when we had agreed in August I would do the game it certainly wasn’t as a sideline guy or something like that. I happen to like Steve Lappas a lot but having him do color on Army-Navy instead of me would be like having me do color on Villanova-U-Mass over him. I told him I was going to let Carolyn know she’d need a color guy for the rest of the package (Army-Navy was the opener) since if I didn’t do that game I would pass on the rest. My feeling was that I had played Pernetti's power game in the summer and now he was still trying to stick it to me--I honestly don't know why other than his power thing--and two could play at that game.

The league’s athletic directors and coaches weren’t happy when they heard this news. I’ve known most of them a long time and I believe they think I know and understand their league quite well—better than Steve Lappas. They made it clear to Carolyn that she needed to get this fixed. She called Pernetti and told him I had to do the game.

So, I got another call from Pernetti. “I just wanted to close the loop on this Army-Navy thing,” he said.

“Close the loop?” I said.

“I’ve decided to put Steve Lappas on another game.”

HE had decided. Rather than call him on it, I just said, fine, I’d be happy to do the game. Then he said, “I just want you to know I don’t appreciate the way you handled this.”

I won’t repeat my entire answer here but I told him if he didn’t like the way I’d handled him big-timing me in the summer; lying and then trying to bully his way through the whole thing, I really was okay with it.

Since then, Tim and I haven’t been close. I do believe he’s a bad guy and his relationship with Schiano got him the AD’s job. If you were to ask people who worked with him at CBS College I think you’d find there were few tears shed when he left.

So, Rutgers fans, we can agree to disagree on how I feel about Schiano and Pernetti but I didn’t make those statements without having reason to make them. I do NOT think the 11,000 seat expansion was needed—sellouts are better than empty seats. I DO think Rutgers is a very good school no matter what Tony says and there are few people I admire more in sports than Rutgers alum David Stern.

So, as I said, let’s all disagree and try—in the holiday spirit—to get along. For the record, one of my favorite college basketball teams as a kid was the Rutgers team that finished third in the 1967 NIT with a coach named Bill Foster and guards named Bobby Lloyd and Jim Valvano. I have nothing but respect for the school. I just don’t especially like the football coach—who has done an excellent job—or the athletic director.

Happy holidays.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well that explains your need to unfairly call out Greg Schiano and Rutgers University. I hope the next time RU comes up in one of your interviews you discuss the fact that Schiano has made it his mission to get his players to the very top of college football's academic achievement rates, better than Navy.

Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

Waaah!! Give me a hankie from such a sob story!! So you have issues with Rutgers because of the way Pernetti treated you in a prior position? Act like a grown up and get over it!! A bad man? Use that term for guys that do bad things to people, like Bin Laden. Running up the score? RU loses to WVU 80-7 and Schiano is a jerk for trying to score 49 in the first half. If you watched the game, you would see that he rested the starters for the entire 2nd half. Finally, as for the stadium expansion, with the exception of the I-AA games, they sold the majority if not all of the tickets, including WVU. While some people chose to stay home due to weather or other reasons, they generated a decent amount of revenue from those games. Try to get your facts straight and not let your personal biases against Pernetti and your prior job working Navy games get in the way of your reporting. It will go a long way toward your overall credibility.

Merry Christmas
Steve in Cranford, NJ

Andrew Armiger said...

Great account, John. I always appreciate your candor and insights and I can certainly sympathize with the position you were put in. Keep up the great work and happy holidays to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Sorry John, but you're completely in the wrong in this instance. Who cares about the Norfolk State game? Using timeouts to score before the half makes him a "bad" man? Are you serious? I mean please. He doesn't run up the score. He's NEVER won a game by monstrous scores of 70-10 or 80-7. He's NEVER kept his starters in late in games. And he's NEVER thrown late in ball games after the score is in hand.

And regarding the bowl game situation, it's a legality issue. Schiano is not at liberty to release a player's medical information to the public, especially when it's unclear what the issue is (no one knew exactly what was wrong with McCourty). I suggest you do some research before criticizing him for that. And again, I don't see how that makes him a "bad" man. Do you even know what the word "bad" means? Publicly slandering a man makes someone a "bad" man, which is exactly what you did. Go ask any of Schiano's former players and ask them if they think he's a "bad" man. Please. Get out here with this crap.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FOTB_Staff said...

Guys and Gals - we had to remove one post, and wanted to let you know why, if you noticed it gone.....we welcome any agreement or disagreement on all topics, but we'd like everyone to stay away from the profane. This one had language that many would find offensive, therefore we thought it best to remove.

Looking forward to all the discussion and have a great holiday....FOTB Staff.

Kevin Kaczmarek said...

Wow! It's Christmas...can't we all just get along? John, bet you're sorry that you decided to BLOG after all! Happy Holidays to you.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feinstein, don't give an inch. Rutgers is a joke, an insignificant football program for 140 years they often refer to themselves as "The Birthplace of College Football" because that is all they have to hang on to. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Mr Feinstein,

I am struggling with your statement that Greg Schiano is a "bad guy". It is one thing to say he has done bad things. Good people have done bad things. It is another matter to say he is a "bad guy". To me there is a difference. I would imagine as a professional writer, you are particular in your choice of words and how you put words together, but I would ask you: Is Greg Schiano really "bad guy" or someone who has done some bad things, in your opinion (I will not go as far as to ask you to admit he might be a "good" person who has done some bad things).

I'd also like to comment on your evidence.

Running up the score: You say Greg is a bad guy not because he runs up the score, rather because he denies that
he runs up the score. So if he admited to running up the score, then he would go from "bad guy" to "not a bad guy"? By the way, I very much remember the "running up the score" churn after the Norfolk State game. As he noted back then, Greg's philosophy is to play hard for the 1st half, and that is what he had the players do. He pulled all his starters early in the 3rd quarter. If Greg wanted to run up the score it would have been much worse.

Regarding Navy, you are making the case that Schiano and Rutgers blantantly stayed on the field during the Bridige of Midshipman march. Now I am sure you do not think Greg Schiano is the smartest person in the world, but come on, do you really think he is that stupid, to purposefully do that? Despite the fact that he is a control freak, he cannot do everything. But as the head coach he is ultimately responsible.

And finally regarding the injury information, yes he is a control freak, and as you note, like a lot of coaches are. So I guess this makes a lot of coaches "bad guys" (including I am sure some of the Patriot League coaches that want you to do their games).

In the end, I cannot say that Coach Schiano has not done bad things, just like me and I am sure just like you somewhere along the way. But in my opinion, his body of work does not add up to "bad guy", and I think you are cherry picking certain incidents to make a case that you want to make.

Anonymous said...

John,
Thanks for providing the explanation on why you think that Greg Schiano is a "bad man". It is always good to have the background info in such an instance.

The Greg Schiano that most in the RU community know is a man of very high morals who produces exemplary young men who are even better human beings than they are football players. They contribute to the community, excel in the classroom, and don't get into trouble off the field.

As a fan, I think that Schiano goes too far overboard to NOT run up the score, and at times it has been to the detriment in developing young players. He does have the philosophy, however, that in the first half of a game, anything goes, and that describes what happened with Norfolk State. However, Rutgers will be the last team in the nation that you will see throw a pass or try to run-up a score in the 2nd half when routing an opponent.

I am very aware of what happened at Navy with that pregame ceremony, and all I can say is perhaps Schiano isn't enough of a control freak. While Rutgers was informed in advance about the pregame ceremony, Schiano wasn't, as a member of his staff messed up.

As an fyi, coaches in many cases can't comment on player injuries due to privacy laws. Devin McCourty is likely to be drafted this spring by the NFL, and it is proper for his coaches not to comment on any injury he may have experienced.

In the future, you may be wise to consider a person's full body of work before bestowing such a label on a man. When you don't, such as in this case, it is more a reflection on you than it is on the person that you're opining on.

Anonymous said...

Feinstein: There are lots of good guys and bad guys in sports and your rep does proceed you in not always being the easist guy to deal with. But, I love this site because we can get this inside stuff. Both these rutgers guys sound like jerks to me and since this is your blog; have at 'em..
Especially since you were called out to give details. I like reading you a lot, but it is the stories like these that keep me coming back. If the NJ guys don't like it, they should start their own blog.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of big dogging it, this is Example A.

Donald said...

How are you wearing a 36 waist?

Mike Winter said...

I liked hearing the reasons that back up your feelings, something you didn't have to do in the first place. Running up scores on lesser opponents is something he'll regret one day when or if they schedule tougher opponents. Keep up the good work John and have a Happy New Year!

Woodrow said...

Love how people look for excuses to get mad about something. Love the blog, your radio segments, and the occasional choice word. In a world of spin you are a rare intellectually honest person. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Ah, ok. You don't like Rutgers because you felt slighted by Tim, and give your biased opinion of what happened as justification.

And here I was thinking that Schiano had done actual things that were "bad". All you have a petty complaints about disclosing injuries and "running up the score" on lesser opponents.

Schiano always calls off the dogs in the second half. But if you think 52-0 is too large a margin of victory against a D1-AA opponent, I hope you feel all D1-A coaches are "bad" people because you will be hard pressed to find many coaches that do not run up the score in a similar fashion.

Oh and lets not forget him slighting the Naval Academy. The mentality that "Navy should be able to do what they want when they want at away games" is just misguided. There's only so much time before game time to get everything done that needs to be done. If coach felt it would hurt out pre-game ritual, it's his right to say so and squash it. But apparently that puts him on the same level as thieves and criminals.

You truly are a piece of work, I'm glad I'd never heard of you until now.

Anonymous said...

Greg Schiano ... a bad coach and Tim Pernetti's bobo! You have got to be kidding me... Running up scores...maybe you have never sat through the numerous games where Rutgers has been beaten 80-7 in the not so distant past. WE DO NOT RUN UP SCORES! OUR COACH DOES NOT LIE! GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF THESE VICIOUS LIES HE TELLS!

Also Rutgers not a good school, try to the Business School, (one example of the hundreds of quality schools), see if you could get in, our son has a job with a top five firm in this economy in '10 and he doesn't graduate till May. You are both the bobo's. Send your kids to your version of "Harvard" just make sure you send them with plenty of security and self defense lessons!

Anonymous said...

So Schiano is a bad person because he (1) allegedly runs up the score like almost everyone in college football and (2) somehow disrespected Navy in pregame warm-ups.

You don't include in your assessment -- either because you don't know or don't care -- that RU also (1) has had tremendous academic success with its football program (check the APR scores) and (2) RU has had basically no off the field issues under GS's watch.

The coaches who run programs where players can't pass a class and get arrested regularly are the "good guys" in your book, or at least are not called out for particular scorn.

It was pretty obvious before this "clarification" that you had a personal axe to grind. I do appreciate, however, you making it plain as day.

If you are real stand up guy you'll make one last post where you admit that you know basically nothing about Rutgers's football program one way or the other, got caught up making statements because of a personal dislike of people connected to RU, and admit that Rutgers's players' record of athletic and academic success under GS's tenure is more favorable than most in college football. (I won't hold my breath.)

Anonymous said...

As a fan of your writing, a longtime listener of TK and a Rutgers graduate, I have to admit I was very surprised and disappointed by your comments and subsequent explanation regarding Rutgers' coach and A.D. First, let me say I truly appreciate your reference to Rutgers as a "good school" -which it certainly is - a fact often dismissed by east coast elitists (and apparently Binghamton delusionalists). I also believe that the real (or at least initial) intent of your conversation was to point out the financial challenges many schools seem to face with the current bowl structure. And while I disagree with your premise (and personally think bowl costs are just one component related to promoting a college football program and bringing in sponsorships and alumni donations -where the real money comes from) it's a topic worthy of reasonable debate.

But as a writer, journalist and broadcaster you speak from a presumed place of knowledge (if not objectivity) and to refer to a man (Greg Schiano) I have followed closely for nearly 10 years as a "bad man" and our new A.D. as essentially a clown and a puppet made me wonder if I had been seriously misguided or misinformed about things I thought to be true. But, your explanation made me realize you were simply trying to settle old scores (whether real or simply perceived by you), which is a shame.

Your attack of Tm Pernetti strikes me as (at best) unseemly if not downright underhanded. And, as others here have already pointed out: those events that seemed to give you reasonable proof to refer to Greg Schiano as being a "bad person" are AT WORST a matter of perception and more apparently willful misrepresentation or even outright lies.

John I realize my approval doesn't make your life any more meaningful--- but I have really lost a lot of respect for you - and I hope in some small way that makes a difference to what you may say or do in the future. I don't say that with malice or blind loyalty to my favorite football team - I say it as someone who has listened to you closely in the past and had put a lot of stock into things you said - but no more.

Jae said...

I have lost all respect for you as a writer. Your explanation just highlights what a petty biased writer you are. This puts into doubt everything you have ever written. It is obvious that your facts are tainted by how your ass was or was not kissed. I guess some people don't realize your "Royalty". Your Highness you have lost a future reader. Your the bad guy for fooling everyone into thinking you write non-fiction.

Jason from San Diego

Jim said...

Interesting discussion, and comments, by all. I do find it quite fascinating that people 'lose respect' for Feinstein because he doesn't particularly care for their football coach and AD. He wasn't and isn't reporting on anything here, it seems that it came up in discussion with Kornheiser and John gave his personal opinion. People have various opinions about various people all the time, rarely aligning. Hell, I have friends of mine that don't like other friends of mine, but that really doesn't change the respect level of them as they all had different experiences.

I don't know if I had been like John and jotted down some of the reasons I have come to have my opinion, but it seems truly unreasonable that people are bashing him for these. Sounds like Pernetti became his boss, and he had problems with this boss. Who can't understand this?

Weird discussion all...

Chris said...

Jim, there's a difference between saying "I don't care for Greg Schiano" and saying "He's a bad person". Your friends who don't like one another, would they call each other "bad" or "evil" or would they just say "I'd prefer to not hang out with them".

You must see the difference. One is a matter of personal opinion, the other is stating that this person has done reprehensible things and deserves scorn. Feinstein decided (quiet obviously) that TP rubbed him the wrong way, and decided that Rutgers Football is a bad program. All he had to do from there was find reasons to justify his childish opinion, and thus he came up with the incredible gripes of player injury reports and pregame rituals.

BTW I like how this is the most commented article you've had for some months. Goes to show how little viewed your miserable blog is.

JJ said...

Wow, who knew there were this many Rutgers fans, and how dare John express his opinions. So Greg whatshisname has won a few games. Does anyone think that Rutgers matters, except in an area of the country that has no great College football teams?

On the grand scales of things, Rutgers presence on the national college football scene, is just barely ahead of schools like Penn, Bucknell and Holy Cross.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like it don't read it.

Nick DiFranco said...

John, it's interesting. Up until this week I thought you were an example of sports journalism at its finest. It's shameful to see you pepper your comments to Kornheiser with spiteful vendetta. I'd expect that from hacks like Jim Rome and Skip Bayless. You've sunk to their level.

Anonymous said...

John, I've enjoyed your books, but I cannot believe you have stooped to such petty and vindictive behavior. Grow up. You argument as to why the coach of Rutgers and their AD are "bad guys" doesn't hold water. You come across as a clear example of a disgruntled employee. If you don't like them, fine, but to call them "bad guys" over this just shows me you're know better than most of the hacks on TV. You're better than that John. Show it.

Matt said...

This just in... Schiano is actually Dr. Evil. Thanks for breaking the story Feinstein.

george said...

I would say that many fans and boosters of some other programs plus those interested in the status quo are scared to death of Schiano and what he is capable of accomplishing in the next 10 to 20 years.