Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Late Arrival to the Stewart Mandel Party

By now, I assume you've taken in CNNSI's Stewart Mandel's piece where he claims Houston Nutt is a dirty coach.  The OPINION piece (need to remember that) has caused outrage throughout the Ole Miss fan base, no doubt leading to emails to Mandel in which he is asked to name a time and place where said emailer may come kick his ass, and it has delighted other fan bases, most notably Arkansas and Mississippi State.  I've read several good responses to Mandel's poorly researched piece, the best of which can be found here (another good one here), but felt The Belly of the Beast needed to unleash its bag of hot gas, and not because Mandel believes Nutt is dirty, but because he was so damn lazy in getting his facts in line.  God forbid he spend 10 minutes using Google.  Anyway, taking a page out of the great and now extinct Fire Joe Morgan's playbook (brief pause to pour out a 110 oz bottle of King Cobra), here is The Belly of the Beast's paragraph-by-paragraph response.
College football fans love to toss around the word "dirty." Pete Carroll was "dirty," they'll tell you, because one of his former stars took a bunch of money. Urban Meyer must be "dirty" because so many of his players get arrested. Lane Kiffin is presumably "dirty" because ... well, duh.
So are you also about to recklessly throw about the "dirty" label?  Yes?  Outstanding!  Point of order to make, no one has ever called Lane Kiffin "dirty."  Being an idiot does not necessarily make one dirty.  And Pete Carroll, while dirty, is ready to WIN FOREVER so that makes it all better.
The definition of "dirty" seems to vary based on one's affiliation, but surely we can all agree on at least one designation: A dirty coach is willing to eschew his integrity if doing so might pay off in a couple more W's. He's not so much a winner as a survivalist. He's not even necessarily a rule-breaker because he creates his own loopholes.
I'm pretty sure it's universally agreed upon that a dirty coach is one who breaks the rules.  Wait, let me check.......(consulting everyone)......yes, that is the consensus.  So if he's not breaking any rules, then what is he doing wrong?  HE'S GOING ABOUT HIS BUSINESS, BUT I DON'T LIKE THAT LOOK IN HIS EYE.
Which is why Ole Miss' Houston Nutt -- more so than any of the aforementioned names -- is a certifiably dirty coach.
Wait, I'm sorry, which one of those coaches just got his school slammed with probation, but bolted for Seattle before said probation hammer was dropped?  Pete Carroll?  Are we sure?  Pete Carroll?  Yes, I'm being told that is correct.  It was Pete Carroll.
Nutt's controversial decision to add trouble-plagued Oregon exile Jeremiah Masoli to his roster on the eve of preseason camp is so transparently pathetic in its desperation you wonder how he can make it with a straight face. And yet we should hardly be surprised.
How can he do it with a straight face?  Have you seen Nathan Stanley in action?  That's how.
This is, after all, the same man who hired a high school coach he didn't want just to keep a quarterback recruit he wound up losing anyway; turned the practice of oversigning into such a farce that the SEC had to make up a rule just to curb him; and, just last year, welcomed another high-profile castoff with a checkered past only to watch him run afoul of the law again before playing a down with the Rebels.
The so-called "Right Reverend" has voluntarily gone down the wrong path again.
EVERY OTHER COACH IN AMERICA:  How did Houston come up with idea to hire high school coaches in order to aid in recruiting?  I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT.  THE MAN IS A GENIUS.  SOMEONE WRITE THAT IDEA DOWN.

Schools in the SEC that have oversigned since 2006:  ALL OF THEM.  While Nutt was the leader in the clubhouse with a 37, he was not the inventor of such practice.

And do you know what happened to that player (Jamar Hornsby) after he ran afoul of the law?  Kicked off the team.  Here Mandel is laying the groundwork for an argument that goes something like this:  If you commit a crime, you should never get a second chance.  Rob a house?  Spend two years in jail?  Sorry, no more chances for you.  Good luck with life on the street.  People like you don't deserve real jobs.
Masoli, the star quarterback for Oregon's 2009 Rose Bowl team, was desperate to find a new football team following his June dismissal, and Ole Miss just happens to be in desperate need of another quarterback following the transfer of second-stringer Raymond Cotton. And so, thanks to a convenient NCAA loophole, Masoli, a recent sociology grad, may wind up starting for an SEC team less than six months after being charged for second-degree burglary, and just three months after getting caught with marijuana while already on suspension from his former team. As an added bonus, he'll get to pursue his lifelong dream of attaining a master's degree in Parks and Recreation Management.
Only in America. Or at least in one dirty coach's pocket of it.
Is something really a loophole if IT'S IN THE NCAA'S RULES/WAIVERS THAT ALLOW SUCH A MOVE?  According to Webster, a loophole is defined as "an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded."  A loophole was Ed Orgeron figuring out that sending 10,000 texts to a recruit was okay because the NCAA had not addressed the texting issue at that time.  The NCAA has clearly addressed the graduate transfer issue and has the rules pertaining to it written somewhere important.  

If you read Michael McKnight's excellent feature on Masoli last week, you know there's more to the player's story than meets the eye. Evidence suggests the quarterback may have played almost no role in the infamous fraternity laptop theft at Oregon last January. His widely reported involvement in a "series of strong-armed robberies" in high school actually consisted of one incident in which he may also have been a bystander. And there's something to be said for earning one's undergraduate degree in three years.
But that doesn't make Masoli an angel. He still lied to police during the fraternity investigation, then pleaded guilty to a crime he now says he did not commit. He also lied to his coach, Chip Kelly, who showed restraint in not dismissing him initially, before promptly blowing his second chance with the marijuana bust.
Only a dirty coach would take a chance on a kid who so blatantly duped his previous coach.
Nutt says he did his homework. He spoke with Oregon coaches. He spoke with Masoli's mother. He invited the player for a campus visit last weekend to "look in his eyes."
"I spent a great deal of time with him," Nutt told's Andy Staples on Sunday. "I really feel that I can help him and he can help us."
Indeed, what better place to send a wayward quarterback than to the coach who helped turn Jevan Snead into an undrafted free agent.
It was Houston Nutt who forced Snead to turn pro.  It was Houston Nutt who forced him to throw 20 interceptions in one season.  Houston Nutt set out to ruin Snead's life and is succeeding!  By the way, nice job of throwing in a line about, you know, actual coaching when the point of this atrocity is that Nutt is a dirty coach.  STICK TO ONE ARGUMENT, MANDEL.  WE'RE ALL SIMPLETONS DOWN HERE WHO CAN'T KEEP UP.
Nutt, an Arkansas native, was once a widely respected coach known for his close family, his strong Christian values (hence the "Right Reverend" tag) and his loyalty to his home state. In 2003, after taking the Razorbacks to bowl games each of his first six seasons, he turned down serious overtures from Nebraska to remain at Arkansas. (Only later would he become famous for tossing his name into every coaching opening in the country.)
How dare he look for a better job!  I know that if I was dealing with batshit crazy editors at CNNSI and I saw an opening that involved fewer batshit crazy editors and better money, I'd refuse to even look.
Something changed, however, after enduring consecutive losing seasons in 2004 and '05. It's not hard to pinpoint the moment when Nutt went to the dark side.
Probably when the Emperor shot him with those bolts of lightning out of his fingers.
In the winter following the '05 season, amid whispers about Nutt's job security, his prized recruit, quarterback Mitch Mustain of nearby Springdale, Ark., began wavering on his commitment. So Nutt took the unusual step of hiring Mustain's high school coach, hurry-up guru Gus Malzahn, to be his offensive coordinator, which ensured pledges from Mustain and three of his similarly touted teammates.
EVERY OTHER COACH IN AMERICA:  Dammit, how did he think of that?  If only we could have been practicing that for years!
Nutt's coup paid off in the short term, with Arkansas notching its best season of his tenure (10 wins and an SEC West title), but ultimately led to his unraveling. Having ditched Malzahn's flashy offense after just one game, believing it could never work in the "big boy" SEC, Malzahn bolted town after the '06 season. (His offense, meanwhile, is working just fine at Auburn.) Mustain and receiver Damian Williams left for USC shortly thereafter. Enraged Razorbacks fans unleashed the hounds, publicizing a nasty letter sent by a friend of the coach's family to Mustain; obtaining his cell phone records and exposing an apparent relationship with a local TV news anchor (they exchanged 1,063 texts in six weeks).
Stewart Mandel, I'd like to introduce you to Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.  Oh, you'd rather have a true freshman quarterback be featured in the offense?  Very well then.  Also, Malzahn's offense seems to be working well because they're pretty good AT RUNNING THE BALL.  But all of this is clear evidence of a moral decline, which means Houston Nutt is a DIRTY COACH.
As soon as he got through the next regular season, Nutt packed his bags for Oxford before someone else did it for him. He's won nine games each of his first two seasons, including a pair of Cotton Bowl victories, yet the 52-year-old continues to make decisions like a desperate man with no job security.
The nerve of him leaving for a better situation.  Terrible moral fiber.
In his first full recruiting calendar at Ole Miss, Nutt brazenly signed 37 players -- 37! -- fully intending to stash the non-qualifers (of which there wound up eight) at junior colleges in the state. SEC schools are now limited to 28 signees per class because of it. Four of the nine highest-rated players from that '09 Ole Miss class are no longer with the program and another is suspended indefinitely.
I heard he even signed these guys with both middle fingers sticking in the air.  And again, SEC schools have long embraced the tradition of oversigning.  Nutt was the tipping point.  Also, it's not like these guys were hidden in secretive junior colleges.  ANYONE could still recruit and sign them.  As for the guys no longer with the program, THEY MUST HAVE BEEN CRIMINALS IF THEY DID NOT COMPLETE THEIR FOUR YEARS AT OLE MISS.  CRIMINALS RECRUITED BY A DIRTY COACH.
One of the four-star signees in that class was safety Jamar Hornsby, who was dismissed from Florida in 2008 after fraudulently using the credit card of a female student killed in a motorcycle accident with one of his former teammates. Disgusting, right? Apparently not to Nutt, who swooped up Hornsby after a year in junior college, only to watch Hornsby get arrested again a month after Signing Day on charges of assaulting a man at a McDonald's drive-thru.
Let's not point out that Hornsby didn't know she was dead.  Or that the card, while in the woman's name, was used primarily by Hornsby even when she was alive.  Or that Nutt managed to out-swoop Alabama, Kentucky and Oregon, all of which were recruiting Hornsby.  As for the McDonald's fight/beating, when Jamar Hornsby wants the fish fillet, you better damn well give him the fish fillet.  Also, he was immediately kicked off the team.
Yet here we are again, a year later, with Nutt taking another chance on another risky player -- purportedly for altruistic reasons. "You want to try to make a difference," said Nutt. "After visiting with him, the bottom lime is I think he wants to do the right thing. He wants his name back."
Nutt's humanitarian interests in Masoli's redemption might seem more credible if they didn't magically materialize the day after his quarterback transferred.
Another risky player who just a few paragraphs ago I wrote probably wasn't guilty of the crimes with which he was charged.  And who is Houston Nutt to look for another quarterback when he loses one.  That isn't right.  Only a dirty coach would do such a thing.
The truth is, Nutt could have found any number of walk-on candidates to fill the emergency third-stringer role. Nutt's taking Masoli because the former Holiday Bowl MVP and lethal dual-threat athlete has the ability to lift Ole Miss from its predicted finish in the SEC West basement (according to the SEC media's preseason poll) back to another respectable bowl. Apparently the terminally insecure coach doesn't feel he can afford a rebuilding year despite averaging nine wins over his past four seasons.
He also could have found a 5'5" MIS student from Pakistan.  Or a a squirrel.  Or a bucket of thumbtacks.  And what a disgusting human being and coach he is for wanting to have a better than mediocre season.  It's simply appalling he'd want to see his team enjoy a successful season.  
What message does this send to Nathan Stanley, the Ole Miss sophomore who, while Masoli was in self-induced football exile, spent the offseason dutifully working to earn himself a starting job? What message does it send to the families of future recruits about Nutt's attitude toward discipline? He presumably stopped caring three or four years ago.
Here's where a phone call would have been helpful for research purposes.  "Hey, OleMissBeatWriterPerson, what about Nathan Stanley?"  To which he would have discovered, Stanley, along with team leaders and seniors, told Nutt that they supported the pursuit of Masoli.  They were interested in, *GASP*, winning.
And what does it say about the SEC and NCAA that they would allow this to happen? Masoli is not the first player to take advantage of the graduate-transfer waiver allowing for immediate eligibility. He follows in the footsteps of former Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk and former Duke point guard-turned Syracuse quarterback, Greg Paulus, among others.
Unlike them, however, Masoli is changing locales solely because his previous team wouldn't let him stay. If it had, he would probably still be suspended this season. You can't blame Masoli for using whatever avenue possible to continue playing football -- even accepting a walk-on invitation -- but he still needed the approval of a morally ambivalent coach to make it happen.
Did Duke really want Greg Paulus still hanging around?  And Masoli needed the approval of a coach who followed the NCAA rules in such matters.
Masoli's former coach, Kelly, spent much of last winter fighting a stigma that his program was "dirty" following a rash of off-the-field incidents. But the second-year Oregon coach wound up dismissing or suspending every player who ran into trouble.
If only Houston Nutt would dismiss or suspend all of the players causing trouble on his watch.  Wait, what's that?  He has?  Oh.  I probably should have taken the time to look that up.
The only "dirty" coach in this scenario is the one openly welcoming other coaches' castoffs.
So how far around the block does the line for these coaches end?

And because he wasn't done making an absurd argument, here's a portion of Mandel's mailbag column from yesterday:
I knew the Nutt column would elicit some strong reactions, but I had no idea they would split so diametrically between the states of Mississippi and Arkansas.
Are you telling me Ole Miss fans, most of which live primarily in the state of Mississippi, would support their head coach, and that Arkansas fans, most of which live within the STATE OF ARKANSAS and don't like Nutt, would support your argument?  Consider me floored.
It's no surprise Ole Miss fans so vociferously defended their coach (though I have no doubt the same exact people would have crucified Dan Mullen if by chance Mississippi State had taking Masoli instead), but apparently Nutt is about as popular in Arkansas as Kiffin is in Tennessee.
Yes, they would have, but would you have written the same steaming pile of shit about Mullen?  After all, he had a large part in Florida's recruitment of the 873 players that have been suspended or kicked off the team.  THAT SOUNDS LIKE A LOGICAL JUMP TO ME.
Listening to some of the revisionist history out there about Pete Carroll's USC tenure, you'd think he was handing Reggie Bush money out of his own wallet, which couldn't be further from the truth. If you're going to accuse someone of being "dirty," it really ought to be for something of his own doing.
You mean like letting celebrities hang around your program all day, calling sports agencies and getting your players summer jobs at those agencies and not checking up on your assistants to see what they're doing in recruiting or otherwise?  Would you consider that of one's own doing? 

1 comment:

  1. Brian2:50 PM

    Applause, Applause!
    Stand up and fight for the little people...kind of reminds me of the pile on everybody did after Ole Miss lost to South Carolina last year.

    Rebuttal journalism at its finest.