Barry Switzer: Never at Loss for Words
Linda Robertson, a friend of mine in the sports writing biz, emailed me the other day.
She wanted to talk to veterans of scandal.
Robertson, you see, works for the Miami Herald, and these days, that means wall-to-wall coverage of the scandal surrounding the University of Miami’s football team. Nevin Shapiro. Improper benefits. Six dozen former and current Canes involved.
Big ‘ol mess.
There’s little doubt that the NCAA is going to bonk Miami pretty good when all is said and done, so Robertson was looking for folks who’d been in football programs that had gone through NCAA sanctions. Unfortunately for our fair state, we have several candidates. Barry Switzer and Pat Jones were both contacted for and quoted in the story. Most of it was stuff we’d heard before.
Switzer reflected on the mess that erupted at Oklahoma right before he was forced to resign. The gang rape. The teammate who shot another teammate. The FBI cocaine sting. But the most interesting things the coaching legend had to say were reserved for Shapiro, the Ponzi schemer who appears to have caused all the troubles at Miami.
“He had that little-guy mentality,” Switzer said of the 5-5 Shapiro. “You’re going to have these rogue boosters because their egos need to be massaged, and they need to feel accepted.”
He also took aim at the guilty athletes.
“The athletes know the rules and know they are jeopardizing their eligibility and they must be held accountable or they’re out,” Switzer said. “Unfortunately, they will take whatever is offered to them, nine kids out of 10.”
I agree that Shapiro is to blame, and I understand that many college athletes knowingly break the rules when they accept improper benefits, but I think one large group that is at fault is being overlooked.
The adults who were supposed to be in charge.
Coaches. Administrators. University leaders. These are the folks who promised moms and dads that if they sent their sons to Miami that they would look over them, would make sure they were all right. Where were they when all of this was going down?
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