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A Tale of Two Coaches

12:39 PM EST on February 11, 2009


(I apologize in advance for duplicating the subject matter that Patrick posted on earlier today, but since I had most of it written yesterday, I didn't want to let it go to waste.)

As some of you may have heard, Oklahoma State's new basketball coach has a bit of a potty mouth.  Berry Trammel, in his blog, sums up the problem this way:

The profanity used by OSU basketball coach Travis Ford, calling Obi Muonelo a "f****** idiot," is alarming on two levels. First, a human decency scale. How did sports ever develop to the point where anyone, even if it's just the coach himself, thinks that's acceptable? But also, how could this happen ONLY THREE DAYS AFTER an Oklahoman story detailed how Ford's vocabulary already had landed him in hot water with some, including his wife?

Really?  Those are the problems he culled from this recent incident?  Berry Trammel is a f****** idiot.

First of all, reading The Oklahoman leads to nothing but problems for OSU coaches, so it is pretty safe to assume no one (including Coach Ford) read that article.  Second, I cannot understand why the puritanical aversion to salty language should eclipse the real issue that should be haunting Travis Ford.

To be fair, I understand that cursing like a sailor is a bad example, and as my mother taught me as a youth, using foul language is an indicator that you are not smart enough to find better words.  We even attempt to curb our use of profanity here on TheLostOgle, and no one is accusing us of being a moderator of public decency.

On the other hand, I have spent some time in a fraternity house and grew up on a baseball field, so I have heard and dropped my fair share of f-bombs.  So, I don't understand why Ford's profanity is supposed to be the greatest sin he could have committed, particularly when the word he uttered was sandwiched between the student body chanting "Bullsh**!" at the referees and the band leading a song that includes the lyrics, "We're going to beat the hell out of you!"

The real crime, and the issue that should get more attention, is where the profanity was directed.

To put it in perspective, when OSU's other high profile coach made news for a verbal tirade, the words had an entirely opposite objective.  There were three camps on Mike Gundy's famous speech.  One was the group that entirely supported the rant.  We'll call that group OSU fans.  In camp #2 were the people who thought Gundy's actions made it clear he had no business being a college football coach.  That group consisted of OU homers who felt the same way about him five minutes before the rant and media types who were unhappy about having the tables turned on them.  Those first two camps were a very small portion of the population because the third classification, the class that were only interested in the rant for comedy purposes.

Regardless, Gundy made waves, and he made waves because he believed his player, Bobby Reid, was undeserving of the scorn directed towards him.  Travis Ford's comment that has made news was verbally abusive to a kid who goes to class, is respectful to the media, and is respectful to the PUBLIC.  And he's a good kid.

This portion of the story has been woefully underreported.  Later in his blog entry, Trammel does mention that Jim Traber suggested it could be blown up as racist because of the differing racial make up of the coach and the Muonelo.  Again, like the profanity, that distracts from the issue.

Pure and simply, Ford disrespected his own player.  And if you want to understand the importance of this, look no further than the way his team played last night in the wake of the controversy.  As Patrick pointed out, that Texas team they played was struggling.  They had lost three in a row, including two at home.  The Cowboys make them look like a national championship contender, and as someone who did watch the game, the team appeared to be disinterested in playing.

Contrast that to the Cowboy football team after Gundy's rant and the difference cannot be more clear.  The football players played inspired pigskin over the remainder of that season.  A week before the rant, though, they were blown out by the Troy Trojans and seemed to quit on Gundy early in the game.

Ford is now going to have to do something to regain his players trust...and I don't think cleaning up his language is the silver bullet.

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