AJ's Monday Musings

AJ's Monday Musings

With the offseason here it's nice to get back to the weekly Musings, like I did last spring and summer. Each Monday through most of August I will opine about sports mostly related to UNC, but certainly college in nature.

The recent state of affairs at Iowa State and Alabama has brought to the surface interesting and rational discourse from both perspectives on each situation.

Similarly ISU basketball coach Larry Eustachy and Crimson Tide football coach Mike Price are admittedly guilty of poor personal behavior, neither of which directly affects their programs or occurred on or around their respective campuses. Yet Price was fired this weekend and Eustachy will likely be terminated, perhaps as soon as today.

While this didn't occur at North Carolina or in the Atlantic Coast Conference, it is relevant with respect to the wishes of a strong contingent of UNC fans over the last month.

Many had openly called for new basketball coach Roy Williams to hire Tar Heel legend and former assistant coach Phil Ford for the third and final spot on his coaching staff, a position that was recently filled by Jerod Haase, who was with Williams at Kansas.

This is not to denigrate the Carolina great, whom I respect tremendously and admit is my favorite Tar Heel of all time. However, Ford was twice guilty of DWI charges in the 1990s, once while on a recruiting trip. Most sensible people will maintain that such an offense is more serious than drinking beer and smooching with college coeds, even at a rival's campus, and throwing $100 bills at strippers during the offseason.

Yet some will argue that Eustachy and Price embarked on their bad behavior before being under the influence - Eustachy has admitted having a drinking problem and recent reports indicate Price is known for his late night imbibing. So their "sober" initial actions deserve severe measures taken against them for terrible, unbecoming judgment for men in their positions of power, authority, and status.

Those same people may also indicate that DWIs usually reflect poor judgment after alcohol has taken a hold of one's sensibilities. Thus, Ford is no criminal, just a man with an illness that led to a pair of unfortunate incidents, neither of which were entirely his responsibility. While that can be somewhat accurate, it doesn't dilute the danger that is a DWI. Plus, some will say, most DWIs could be avoided by planning ahead: Don't drive if you know you're going to drink!

I have no clue the real reasons Williams did not hire Ford (at least, not yet) and certainly am in no position to speculate his long ago problems impacted the new coach's decision. That would be extremely unfair to both Williams and Ford and would serve no purpose in this discussion. But it does offer the question if a DWI is A: a fireable offense for a coach and B: should it be considered or disregarded when hiring someone?

I think every person is unique enough that taking it on a case-by-case basis is the best approach. What might be an isolated incident for one person could be part of a pattern for another. Personally, being far from perfect, I don't expect flawlessness from anyone, including high-priced college coaches. But, they do have a responsibility to "represent" in ways the commoner doesn't. And with that big salary, the status that comes with the cash and job title, and that they are around impressionable athletes that are expected to behave properly, this conduct should rarely, if ever be tolerated.

***

Like last year, each week I'll ask readers to give their opinions on one issue a week. The following week I will post the best or most interesting response. This week's question is: Should there be a line drawn between what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior for coaches? And if so, where should that line be. If not, why?

Since this question can go both ways, I will post the best response from both points of view next week.

Also, it should be noted that I think Ford is more than far enough removed from his last problem and would be an asset to any program, and therefore shouldn't be an issue in possibly hiring him for anything. He is a classy, honest and hard working man that would be a terrific influence on young people.

Please send e-mails to: totlsprts@aol.com.


Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: totlsprts@aol.com.

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