There's a surprise twist at the end of this posting that's sort of a remarkable hoot, but first things first.
A few days ago, I wrote about the national video with the Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice, who subsequently resigned. It really was only a matter of time. (Side note: what I left out of the piece was that the two-minute video is not what caused the firing -- the actual video was 30 minutes long!)
What I noted in the piece, though, was that something less-mentioned in all the uproar was the poor response of the athletic director Tim Pernetti -- who only gave a tap on the wrist to coach Rice when the video was brought to his attention last November -- and, to a lesser degree, school president Robert Barchi, who signed off on it.
Well, that tap has finally caught up the A.D. Pernetti, who resigned yesterday. It's a shame, since everyone (even Pernetti himself) acknowledges that the video -- with the coach regularly throwing basketballs at the players and shoving them around, pushing kids from behind -- makes blatantly obvious that firing was the only reasonable punishment, so the problem could have been so easily avoided. But as we know these days, the cover-up is often where you get caught, when you make matters worse. Dr. Barchi, while seemingly safe at the moment, has taken a lot of heat for his mediocre performance at a semi-flippant press conference yesterday. Afterwards on ESPN I saw the reaction of their college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, who's very good and a low-key, even-handed guy, not one given to hyperbole. And Bilas was as upset as I've seen him, at the fairly offhanded way that President Barchi handled his response. I wasn't as bothered by Bilas -- I thought that for the most part, Dr. Barchi, handled himself thoughtfully, and his lightness in parts was to add perspective -- but I understand Bilas's point. Ultimately, the Rutgers president should have been more direct and forthright, rather than dancing around as much as he did. He did seem to "get" the problem -- but he didn't address it as bluntly as it did require.
In an addendum of sorts, Rutgers is scheduled to join the Big Ten conference in 2014. The Big Ten commissioner, Jim Delany, said that none of this affects that change. But I'm sure that they're all gritting their teeth over there, wishing they'd held off a bit longer. Personally, I wasn't crazy about seeing the Big Ten expand, period, and thought that New Jersey-based Rutgers didn't belong in a conference that's largely Midwestern-based. That's all moot, but only serves to reinforce my meaningless wishes...
And finally, I know this will seem almost impossible, but as I was writing this,, and about to finish, I had a bizarre brainstorm. (This is the "surprise twist" I went back and added mention of above.) I actually realized that there is a way to tie a Broadway musical into all of this! Really. Further, I suspect that there aren't many sports analysts across the country ("many" in this case will be defined as "probably none") who could do the same, so just consider this another service of Elisberg Industries, something we love to provide our loyal customers.
If anything proves that God has a sense of humor and perfect whimsy, this is it.
Anyway, back in 1947 there was a surprise hit musical, High Button Shoes, that starred Nanette Fabray and Phil Silvers. It was written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, ran for 747 performances (almost two years) and had a couple of popular hits to come from it, "Papa, Won't You Dance with Me" and "I Still Get Jealous," the latter of which Louis Armstrong recorded on his huge, legendary Hello, Dolly album. But there's one other song of note from the show here. In the musical, Phil Silvers played a shifty con man (a shock, yes, I know..) named 'Harrison Floy' who is trying to wheeler-deal the players getting ready for a college football game. And the name of the song he sings to them? It's -- "Nobody Ever Died for Dear Old Rutgers"!
Apparently, now, that's not quite true anymore...
(By the way, it's hilarious how appropriate some of the lyrics are right now. They're sprinkiled throughout, but listen particularly at 1:09.)
Hey, I'll bet cash money they didn't have this tidbit on ESPN.
Finally! All those hours listening to Broadway musicals has at last paid off…
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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