The show was doing a segment on the press conference by Mike Gundy, coach of the Oklahmoma State University football team, who was complaining about a column by sportswriter Jenni Carlson. Her column was critical of OSU quarterback Bobby Reid, whom Gundy sidelined recently.
The gist of the discussion was that the column was journalistically not well-written -- if not even "toxic" in Carroll's mind -- but also that Gundy's outburst went off the deep end. There was some degree of disagreement amongst the host and guests about whether or not sportswriters should treat college athletes at big-time football programs differently from professional athletes: the segment had an on-air interview by Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaunessy who said that they should be treated differently, while acknowedging, however, that it was a bit of a gray area; Joe Sciacca made the point, and Dan Kennedy agreed, that these college athletes are part of a big-time money-making machine, receive big scholarships and premium housing, and are one-step away from professional sports, and hence should be treated with a scrutiny similar to professional athletes. Apparently, Reid's mother is considering a lawsuit against Carlson.
The discussion continued [unofficial transcript produced by myself]:
MCNAMARA: A kid who is playing hockey for Williams College is not the same as somebody who is playing Big 10 or Big 12 football. I know absolutely nothing about sports, but I am married to a sportswriter, and he says this is big-time athletics... We don't comprehend it, really, here in New England, what real big-time college sports is.I have a prediction: they are about to receive a lot of letters and/or email from BC fans.
KENNEDY [overlapping with Carroll]: It's as big as professional sports in much of the country.
CARROLL [overlapping with Kennedy]: We're going to get a lot of email from BC fans out there... sorry, Dan.
ROONEY: That's a good example: there's a tremendous amount of attention paid to BC and all of its games. Do they get that kind of scrutiny from the local press? I'm asking that rhetorically because I don't read enough...
CARROLL [overlapping with Kennedy and Rooney]: Well, if you read the police blotter, they do. And that's happened quite often...
ROONEY: I'm talking about the game itself.
KENNEDY: You don't get it here, because we have major professional sports in every sport you can think of. But if you go out into fly-over country like Oklahoma, this is it, this is what life revolves around, their big-time college sports program. And these guys, it's one degree of separation between that and the NFL.
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Legal and/or Behavioral Troubles for BC Athletes
I suspect that Carroll was making a reference to Boston College athletes who have had some legal (and behavioral) problems both recently and in the more distant past. He gave no specifics, particularly since his comments were in passing, but a little bit of research provides some details.
BC's student newspaper, The Heights, published an editorial back in January motivated by two basketball players being kicked off of the team. A previous basketball player had problems: "Ryan Sidney, who was a promising raw talent, peaked as a freshman because he couldn't keep his personal issues under control and was constantly in the news for drug problems and behavioral indiscretions." The problems date back to 2000-1 "when Kenny Harley was busted for getting in a bar fight at Mary Ann's." The Heights continues:
"Teammate Andrew Bryant was subsequently dismissed from the university after news broke of his involvement in a robbery during which he pistol-whipped somebody. The next year, a bizarre story broke concerning Jermaine Watson jumping out a window, rumored to be armed and escaping cops. He jeopardized his playing ability to escape legal authorities."Hockey isn't immune: "Captain and assistant captain Joe Rooney and Brian Boyle were stripped of their respective C and A jersey patches." [See note below for clarification: punishment stopped there.] Woman's hockey coach Tom Mutch "stepped down [in April] in the wake of allegations of improper behavior with one of his players" (Boston Globe) -- sexually explicit text messages to Mutch were found on one of his player's cell phone, according to The Heights. Mutch is married, by the way, to a woman who isn't on the team.
This summer, two BC football players, Gosder Cherilus and DeJuan Tribble, were involved in a bar scuffle that has led to charges filed against both. I believe that both are currently playing for BC football this fall. And former linebacker Raymond Henderson was recently, allegedly caught with three different drugs and trafficking paraphernalia in his Cleveland Circle apartment, and has been indicted.
Boston College is a Jesuit-led university that focuses on "student formation," i.e., in teaching their students how to be moral and upstanding in every aspect of their life. It is a fair question to ask: why does this focus on "student formation" appear to be finding difficulty gaining traction amongst a few of their student athletes -- and even one of their coaches?
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EDIT (10/2/07): The case of BC football players Tribble and Cherilus just got more complicated: the man injured in the bar fight, Sean Maney of Watertown, has now also been charged with assault and battery. This means that pretty much everyone involved in the scuffle (except Maney's brother's girlfriend) has been criminally charged -- Tribble, Cherilus, off-duty state police officer Joseph Boike, and now Maney.