Archive for February, 2005

Sports: What is Temple U. President David Adamany afraid of?

Saturday, February 26th, 2005

In his life as a coach, John Chaney has accomplished much and perhaps suffered more. But like Bobby Knight, he has allowed his coaching prowess and good deeds to be overshadowed by a volatile temper. Chaney’s latest tantrum produced an outcome that exceeded everything in Knight’s legendary repertoire of rage. It ended the career of an opposing player.

Chaney’s behavior in the game against St. John’s reminded me of the 1978 Gator Bowl and the incident that let to the firing, three days later, of an honored and honorable football coach named Woody Hayes. His Ohio State Buckeyes were the only team that could challenge Michigan’s hegemony in the Big Ten Conference. Hayes’ offensive scheme was simple, “three yards and a cloud of dust” as he described it. He once remarked that when you throw the ball only three things can happen and two of them are bad. (For non-football fans, the three things are a completed pass – good, an incomplete pass – bad, and an interception – really bad.)

But it all ended when Hayes ran onto the field and struck Charlie Bauman, a Clemson player who had – what else? – intercepted an Ohio State pass. It’s safe to say that the enraged coach in his mid-60s did little damage to the tough young linebacker in his pads and helmet. But the injury wasn’t to the Clemson player; it was to The Ohio State University. The school president felt he had no choice but to dismiss Hayes whose famous temper had already produced a number of embarrassing incidents.

Chaney has produced embarrassments aplenty too, including a public threat to kill an opposing coach. And last week, he indulged a fit of rage similar to Hayes’. Rather than leave the bench and assault an opposing player himself, he dispatched a “goon” to even things up for what he considered poor officiating. Nehemiah Ingram did as he was instructed, committing five fouls in four minutes. One of them sent Saint Joseph’s Senior John Bryant crashing to the floor, breaking his arm and ending his collegiate career.

It’s true that Chaney did not himself hurl Bryant to the floor; he did something worse. He sent a young man who trusted and obeyed him to do the dirty work for him. I don’t know how Ingram feels about his actions that night, but I hope he doesn’t take pride in the fact that he will forever be known not as a basketball player but as an enforcer. Indeed, Chaney harmed two players that night, injuring an opponent and hanging the “goon” label on one of his own. The damage was far worse than anything Woody Hayes did to Charlie Bauman.

Woody Hayes was fired. Even Myles Brand, then President of Indiana University, finally summoned the courage to fire Bobby Knight. Temple President David Adamany has suspended John Chaney for three games. What is David Adamany afraid of?

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