Mike Rice is a 44 year old man who had been an assistant college basketball coach from 1991 to 2007. He then got his first head coaching job, at Robert Morris, and did quite well in the Northeast Conference, going 73-31 over three years, including two appearances in the NCAA tournament. He then moved up to the big time in 2010 when he was hired to coach Rutgers in the Big East. At some point in there, he also apparently began to slowly break away from reality. If you haven’t seen the video already, take a look:
That is a 44 year old man behaving worse than any screaming toddler you’ve ever met– and he doesn’t seem to ever cry himself out and just fall asleep. As many have already observed, there is an ominous foreboding in the way ESPN cut that video, with the voice over talking about Rice’s “fiery style” over clips of him acting like an asshole on the county. They we get to the practice video footage. Good lord. Rice was fired for being a rageclown with a 44-51 record at Rutgers over three years. (There was also some drama about (now former) Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti not firing Rice when the video of the practice insanity first surfaced in December 2012. But Pernetti eventually resigned as well, taking a $1.2 million settlement, an iPad, a $12,000/year car allowance, and an agreement that the university would not say anything bad about him. What a piece of shit.) This aside, there has been a not-inconsequential voice on the internet that has defended Rice, calling his ranting and hyperventilating “old school” and lamenting, in the perfect sour old white man pitch of Ed Rendell, “the wussification of America.” The Daily Show has a great mash up on the TV talking heads barfing up this viewpoint:
But before you lose all faith in humanity, there were plenty of people who found fault with a grown many panting obscenities at teenagers en-route to being tied for 12th place in the Big East. As retired Georgetown coach John Thompson, the man the Washington Post aptly calls DC’s standard bearer for old school, said on his radio show,
It’s just mind-boggling. They have the nerve to say that this is old-school…It’s incomprehensible to me.
A co-host on the show, retired Redskin Brian Mitchell, was even more to the point,
I’ve never seen it happen, and it damn sure didn’t happen to me. If they put their hands on me….I would have Sprewelled him, point blank.
I’ve played sports enough to know that there are people out there who think octanes of rage are the sole fuel that can drive a team to win. If you don’t believe this, spend a Saturday at your local middle school’s basketball gym during the season of your community’s youth basketball rec league. There you will see the full gamut of coaching styles, including Rice’s, except it will be even more incongruous than in the Rutgers practice video, because the coach will be screaming, vein faced, at toe-headed seven year olds. There’s no reason to ever give into the ape urges of the brain stem to the degree that Rice did, and on a regular basis. Everyone wants to win and there is no gold star for “wanting it” so bad you mutate into one of those My Super Sweet 16 girls. The two most successful coaches in the history of the NCAA and the NBA, John Wooden and Phil Jackson, were also the most sanguine. This is not to say that being comprised wholly by rage cannot result in success: look at Michael Jordan. However, it does show that rage is not the only ticket– and, that asking someone to temper their ragefist does not mean asking someone to temper their desire and ability to win.