Ford’s profanity alarming
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?
There is no way OSU administrators can be happy with their coach. Athletic director Mike Holder seemed strong in his statement that Ford must change his behavior – “He’s got no choice” — and while that’s not necessarily a line in the sand, it’s on the record.
Sean Sutton was fired not because he didn’t win enough, although he didn’t, but because Holder came to believe Sutton didn’t display the kind of leadership OSU desired. But Sutton never put OSU in this kind of light. Never treated players this way.
Here’s a quote from Terrel Harris last week on Ford’s language: “It’s funny to hear the comments from other teams, like ‘Wow, your coach is wild.’ At A&M, (Donald) Sloan, I think, is saying how our coach is crazy and stuff because he can just hear everything he says. When he gets into the game and his emotions take over, he says anything, really.”
That was Ford’s defense on his WWLS interview with me, Jim Traber and Al Eschbach on Monday. That he’s an intense personality who let his emotions get the best of him. It’s no defense, of course. Would Ford accept that excuse from Muonelo, that he was just into the game and let his emotions get the best of him?
Traber, who played college football and major-league baseball, said he’s heard coarse language all his life from coaches but hardly ever did it include name-calling. Which is why OSU probably is lucky this thing so far hasn’t gotten even bigger. You’ve got a coach with almost-limitless power berating, with profanity, an athlete with little recourse. Throw in the racial makeup — white coach, black athlete — and it wouldn’t be surprising to see activists get involved demanding further action taken against Ford.
In apologizing, Ford said, “that’s not me.” Maybe so. But no one in Oklahoma knows whether that’s true. He’s been here 15 minutes, and now twice within four days his language has become an issue.
Until Ford gives anyone reason to believe otherwise, we have to assume that’s exactly who he is.
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