Archive for Sunday, May 4, 2003

Bad behavior often part of playbook

May 4, 2003

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Iowa State basketball coach Larry Eustachy doesn't deserve another chance, but he'll eventually get one. And so will former Alabama football coach Mike Price. There can be compassion for them, or anger against them, but they'll make out all right in the future.

Jerry Tarkanian took down UNLV, but resurfaced at Fresno State. Jim Harrick had problems at UCLA, and created more in Georgia. The list goes on and on. So as long as college presidents want to win games, ignore ethics and make money, they'll quickly forgive and forget, and college coaches will refuse to grow up.

Isn't this what this is all about, coaches acting like kids?

If Eustachy had a winning record at Iowa State the past two years instead of going 17-14 this season with a 5-11 record in the Big 12, university officials would have put a nice spin on him recovering from alcohol, and we would have seen all those emotional shots of Eustachy sitting with his wife at a recent news conference asking for a second chance.

If Price, who had yet to coach a game at Alabama, had been losing during the last couple of seasons, his most recent episode would have bought him a one-way ticket out of town to Shreveport, La., immediately. Instead, school officials finally terminated Price's contract Saturday afternoon, and Eustachy likely will be getting a pink slip, too.

Actually, it's a sad commentary on our society. We have become so used to athletes and coaches being involved in so many inappropriate situations that we are hardly shocked anymore.

When Eustachy, 47, was seen in photos at different fraternity parties around the Big 12 including one of him holding cans of beer and kissing one girl while being kissed by another, were we shocked or was this just another day at the office?

When we first heard the news of Price, 57, being caught spending hundreds of dollars on topless dancers at a club in Pensacola, Fla., and later allowing one of them to run up $1,000 worth of charges to his hotel room, was this wrong or just another boys' night out?

We don't expect college coaches to be boy scouts. That's a perception, not reality. Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Dean Smith and Bear Bryant all had these choirboy reputations, but just about everyone has their little vices and agendas. Some just hide it better than others.

But at least the appropriate behavior was displayed in front of the athletes. A little common decency would be nice for men who make as much as Eustachy and Price.

In other words, just grow up.

Just as soon as we thought we had gotten rid of the chair-throwing, whip-carrying antics of Bob Knight, we still see the juvenile behavior almost weekly during the basketball season, from Indiana coach Mike Davis running out on the court frantically arguing to Gary Williams' expletive-laced tirades on the sidelines.

It's all acceptable when you win. But when you lose, you got problems.

Iowa State officials have very little elbow room here. If Eustachy was Roy Williams or Tubby Smith, they may have been able to sweep this under the rug under the cloak of coming clean. But respect and credibility, and the almighty dollar is bigger than Eustachy.

Price, apparently, was expendable. Eustachy will probably find that he is, too. Regardless, both will get another chance. When it comes to stains on the resumes, college presidents have a tendency to look the other way when it comes to putting money in the school's pocketbook.

And the inappropriate actions keep going on and on.

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