Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book tour details; Sad and murky situation at Syracuse, Ohio State doesn’t change and extra talk on Edsall and Maryland

It has been a while since I’ve had a chance to write here in part because there has been a lot going on which has caused me to spend a good deal of time writing Washington Post columns but also because I’ve been pretty caught up in getting things lined up for my impending book tour.

I’m actually fired up about the book tour, which is unusual. Normally I dread them but I’m excited about this book and the early response it has gotten. Tomorrow I’m in New York where, among other things, I’ll spend an hour (4-5 o’clock) on Mike Francesa’s WFAN show. Francesa and I often disagree but I’ve always said his radio show is almost always a good listen and the fact that he read the book and wanted to book me for an hour is very encouraging. I will also be taping a ‘Fresh Air,’ interview which will air on Thursday. That’s a good combo—WFAN (and YES network) on Wednesday; a big-time NPR show on Thursday.

Next week I go to Indianapolis on Monday evening. I made the decision to be there on the official publication date of the book because ‘One-on-One,’ is, after all, keyed to the 25th anniversary of ‘Season on the Brink,’ so where else would I want to be on the day the book is officially released? I’m doing an appearance Monday night at The Big Hat bookstore, which is on Cornell Avenue in Indy.

The next morning I will be in-studio to do The Bob and Tom Show, which for me is a big deal. It’s a big deal because those guys are great at selling books. But beyond that, it’s a big deal because the very first interview I did for ‘Season on the Brink,’ was on Bob and Tom. Back then it was a local show in Indianapolis. I still remember it like it was yesterday: It was snowing and dark when I got to the station and I was on for a long time. They had read the book and were totally prepared for the interview—which I now know is how they always do business.

Since then I’ve been on the show countless times and have been on for every single book I’ve ever written. This makes 28. The same people who did the show then—on and off air—do the show now and I always look forward to talking to them and, in this case, seeing them.

After that I’ll do some local TV and radio in Indy, winding up by going on Dan Dakich’s radio show. It’s hard to believe that Dan, who I probably spent more time with than anybody during my ‘Season on the Brink,’ winter, is now a big media star. Except it isn’t that hard to believe because he’s very bright and is also very good on-air. He’s a rising star at ESPN, which makes me happy except for the part about working for ESPN. But Dan—unlike me—has the temperament to handle working for those guys, so good for him.

From there, I drive over to Chicago and from Chicago to Cleveland the next day. Then it’s home for a day of satellite TV and local TV and radio and then back on the road again the next week. It will be hectic but I made the schedule that way because, as I said, I honestly believe people will like reading this book.

Okay, maybe Bob Knight won’t like it. Tiger Woods may not hate it as much as you might expect. Then again, I’m not counting on either of them reading it. Knight will tell you he still hasn’t read, ‘Season on the Brink.’

Onto the news and the question is where to begin.

The latest out of Syracuse on Bernie Fine is devastating. We are not talking a Penn State scandal here because there’s no evidence that Jim Boeheim or any officials at Syracuse knew what is alleged to have gone on. The whole thing is so—you pick a word: slimy, sad, murky. I don’t know. But it is also confusing: the original accuser went to ESPN and The Syracuse Post-Standard eight years ago but they couldn’t find enough corroborating evidence to go with the story. Second accuser, the original accuser’s half-brother comes forward. Then, the original accuser releases a tape from years ago (why didn’t he release it years ago?) that is alleged to be Bernie Fine’s wife. The tape is sickening on many levels. Now a third accuser who has been accused of sexually abusing a child himself comes forward.

Boeheim, who was jumping up and down in Fine’s defense—understandable after working together for so many years—is now retreating rapidly and Fine has been fired. As with Penn State, this is far from over. There will no doubt be more allegations and, I’m guessing, more murkiness. Meanwhile, I’m so sick of all of this I want to hide under the couch.

Then again, there’s Ohio State. It is good to know that my pal the bow-tied E. Gordon Gee learned his lesson from the Jim Tressel mess. Clearly he learned that having a football coach who is bigger than the school is a bad idea. Clearly he learned that sending a message that football is more important than anything by guaranteeing a new coach $4 million a year is really good idea. Clearly he was unfazed by the number of Florida players arrested during Urban Meyer’s tenure there.

And, just as clearly, Meyer is a believer in upholding the Tressel tradition of lying with a straight face. Here’s my question: WHY would he keep denying he had been offered the job last week when it was apparent to EVERYONE that he was going to be the new coach on Monday? Why not just say, ‘no comment,’ or, ‘It would be unfair to anyone at Ohio State for me to say anything when they’re getting ready to play Michigan.’ Sure, people will see through that but they also saw through the, ‘no one has offered me the job,’ line which may have been technically accurate in some way but was clearly not true.

I don’t get it some times with these power coaches. They really believe if they say the sun will rise in the west that it WILL rise in the west and if you doubt them, how dare you.

Speaking of football coaches, I wrote on Monday that Randy Edsall should be fired after one year as Maryland’s coach. The response to the column has been overwhelmingly positive but I am still amazed at some people’s ability to NOT read. A handful of posters said I was hypocritical to call for a coach to be fired after one season, regardless of record. A few others—and my friend Steve Czaban at WTEM—rattled on about how Maryland can’t afford to buy a coach out in light of its financial crisis.

Note to Czabe: You need to read past the headline sometimes. One of my points was that it will cost Maryland MORE long term to keep Edsall than it will to buy him out now because people can’t STAND the guy. And the reason they—and most importantly the players—can’t stand him is because he’s never wrong and doesn’t take responsibility for his own failings. Edsall rattled on about ‘accountability,’ all the time. How about HIS accountability?

I didn’t call for Edsall to be fired for going 2-10. I would never advocate firing a coach after one year based on a poor record. Many great coaches have had poor records early in their tenure—although most didn’t take over a team that had been 9-4 the previous season. I think it takes at least two years, more often three, to really get a handle on where a coach is going.

But Edsall shows NO sign of understanding any of his flaws or mistakes or that he even has any. He has consistently blamed everyone but himself all fall. What put me over the top wasn’t giving up 42 straight points to North Carolina State on Saturday but Edsall comparing himself last week to Bob Kraft and the New England Patriots because Kraft talked about, the “Patriots Way,” in an interview. Trust me the “Patriots Way,” wouldn’t be nearly as effective without Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, but that’s beside the point. The point is Edsall said that he was doing the same things Kraft did and therefore, “I must be right.”

Wrong Randy. You’ve been wrong every second since you didn’t bother to go meet with your Connecticut players in person to tell them you were leaving—accountability?—and you’re still wrong.

My rule has always been you don’t judge a coach after one year—good or bad. There are exceptions to every rule.

My newest book is now available for pre-order: One on One-- Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game 


JeffW said...

John: It is KILLING me that you are coming to my hometown of Indianapolis, and I will miss you. Why? Because I will be on assignment in...Arlington. Ugh. Hopefully I will catch you at a book signing in the future.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we understand a case can be made that in 5 years UM will have lost more money, net-net, keeping Edsall than firing him. But they have to have the cash to pay him off now; they can't just tell him to come back in 5 years and they will pay him then from money they saved. They don't have it, so this means some booster has to step up and UM isn't reknown for big donors (other than Mr. UA). And if you think this is not a problem, why did they had such trouble when they went to buy out Friedgen? But Anderson might take your loan.

Mike from HMB said...


To be fair it is not just what people fail to read but on your part it is also what you elect to leave out. In regards to Edsall, you fail to mention:

Edsall had to self report practice violations from the Friedgen regime that reduced practice time by 2.5 hours per week this year.

The football team APR fell below the acceptable threshold with Ralph and they have lost a few football scholarships.

He suspended two seniors after the Miami win because they had broken curfew AND one had punched a guy in the face so he was charged with assault.

While it has mostly been unspoken he assumed a program lacking in character individuals and part of his job is cleaning up the program. If he is not winning by his third or fourth year then I would absolutely agree with your assessment but given the academic and infraction issues along with assuming players that you didn’t recruit it’s not surprising that the result of the season was poor.

I thought it was interesting that you used both Mike Leach and Bobby Knight and a barometer for comparison, I wouldn’t consider either of them models of mental stability while they were coaching.

Rory Wohl said...


Where/when will you be in Cleveland? Would love to attend a signing.

- Rory

Anonymous said...

Loved the article on Edsall. For me, a big part are the games themselves in that I think you typically can at least see a "positive" trend develop over the year, even if there is a losing record. I saw no evidence of that. Love your books too!

Comedian Kelly Terranova said...

Echoing your praise for Bob & Tom. If they are great for publishing, they are GOLD for stand-up comedians. Totally prepared and dedicated to making their guest look good. That's how it ALWAYS goes in radio, right?
Easy to see why they are so successful.

Anonymous said...

John: Mike from HMB mentions Edsall inheriting a program lacking in character individuals and that part of his job is cleaning up the program.

Your article nails the fact that Edsall himself is lacking in this key ingredient and shuns acceptance of responsibility. He's gotta go!!!


Ed Tracey said...

John, enjoyed your radio interview on "Fresh Air" today.


Janet said...

Where will you be in Chicago?

Anonymous said...

More background on why Edsall cannot be fired without some major sugar daddy: assistant coaches all have 3-year contracts, and firing RE means firing the assistants and paying them, too:


John, you should be doing a story on UM's real disaster, the Athletic Director who made these decisions. Now THERE is someone way, way out of his depth.

David Giles said...


sorry I missed you last night at Big Hat Books. I was driving up from southern Indiana but just couldn't arrive in time. I had some questions and comments about Bob Knight, the IU basketball team and Red Auerbach.

next time you are in the area ...