Monday, May 4, 2009

...And For Good Measure It Rained Saturday Too

So when Idaho State defeated Utah back on Saturday night, December 6, when the game ended...I sorta had this blank expression, as if to say "holy crap...we just beat those guys". Everyone was happy, lots of hugs in the locker room, lots of giddy questions from reporters, more giddy answers from the players and coaches, but what I honestly thought about was this...I couldn't wait to go to church. I wanted all those people to pat me on the back...tell me they were there, and say what an awesome game it was. And they did, and it was good. That was a fun day for me.

Now, fast forward to this Sunday ... ummmmm ... I didn't want to go to church at all. I didn't want to hear all the snarky comments, and I didn't want the folks coming up to me saying they felt bad for me. While I would love to question the placement of the headline on Saturday's paper, or the fact that they used "End of the World" type (back when I was in Journalism class, anytime you used gigantic headline size for a story, it was considered "End of the World" type), I can't get mad at the paper. I can only get annoyed the people involved.

I'm writing all of this because I do read the Bengal Den, and I do hear things around town, and my wife hears it, and my kids hear it, and sometimes I think folks think we here at ISU don't mind these types of things when they occur. All I can tell you is my thoughts, both as an ISU employee, and as a resident of Pocatello. Both thoughts are the same ... I'm pissed.

I'm pissed because at ISU, there are about 250-300 student-athletes, and the actions of six student-athletes tarnishes the images of the others that do everything right, the ones that go to school, give back to the community, that want to stay in Pocatello and Southeast Idaho because they genuinely love it here.

I'm pissed because I get roped into it too. I purposely and proudly wore ISU gear on Saturday and Sunday because I am proud of our athletes, and our employees. Anyone working here will get looked at differently because of the last three incidents (even though everything was lumped together on Saturday, those were two separate incidents).

(Quick side note: I had someone come up to me Sunday and say how come this only happens with ISU and not in the high schools. I informed him that it does in fact happen, but they are all minors, so their names can't be in the paper ... remember, my kids went to high school here and know folks at all three ... I hear plenty).

I'm pissed because I want to see out athletes succeed. I want this town to be proud of ISU, and these things happen, and suddenly I hear things like "That's why I wear xxxxx gear instead of ISU". Of course, this stuff happens pretty much everywhere, but I digress.

I hate saying this, because in my position, you get to know these kids, and you learn to like them, but all those things have to be separated. I think the decision in the punishment was right, in that you do something like shoplifting, and you lose the privilege of playing sports and having a scholarship at ISU.

The timing of all this sucks by the way, in that this week is the start of the Bengal Foundation Fund Drive, and the Bennion Awards Banquet. Instead, this will hang like a dark cloud over it to a degree. It's hard to ask folks for money to support our program, to ask folks to spend their hard earned money on a ticket for a football game, to buy the shirts, to wear the hats, when a student-athlete comes out gets arrested for shoplifting, I get it ... it's like a slap in the face to our fans.

But remember too it's a slap in the face to the peers of these kids. Softball had an awesome season....they give back to the community. They go to class, they do the right things, but they are now dragged into this as well. Men's basketball has a great year, but now they are also guilty by association. Also, the football players...there's 80 guys that are doing the right things...they are reading at elementary schools, they are sacking potatoes with the food bank to help the needy, they are helping freshmen move into the dorms, but they also are labeled unfairly.

The football team's entire year of doing good things in our community should be ruined by a few pieces of Samsonite that decided to break the law, and are paying the price for it.

What our fans need to know and understand is that of the six student-athletes in the football program that have slipped up in the last three months, three have been dismissed from the program, scholarship revoked, and are gone. The others were suspended, and are now on probation, meaning they basically can't screw up again. They didn't run wind sprints. They didn't have to write an essay. They all faced a variety of serious punishments (and if you think a suspension isn't serious, think back to last basketball season when Austin Kilpatrick was suspended by coach O'Brien for violating a team rule, and think how long it took him to recover from that), and I think it's safe to say that these incidents are taken seriously by the man in charge in Jeff Tingey.

I haven't touched on Coach Key at all with this, and Cherokee's leave of absence ironically ended the same day that Kelvin called informing me that a person in the community sent him an email about it, along with the other kids (I'm guessing it was not a season ticket holder that emailed him). Key will have to carry this to any other coaching stop he goes to, and now has permanent baggage, so I think for a first offense, albeit a serious one, his punishment works. As a coach, you want to coach, and he couldn't, forcing a big shuffle among the coaches and players.

I will say this ... I personally don't drink (not a religious thing by the why, just a personal choice), and I haven't seen much good come out of it, so it's one of those lost things on me. I don't know Key's circumstances, but I know the statistics of it all. Drunk driving is serious, and you can go to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D) to get all the statistics. Hopefully, he learns from it, and I hope the other six learn from their actions as well and become better people. I've made mistakes in my life and learned from them, and I'm sure if you've read this far, you have made them too, and learned from them as well. Any questions or comments can be left here, or you can email me at as well.

OK, on to other things.....
Who the heck is Carmen Harris?
Ever play table top sports games? I must confess, I still have a few, like All-Star Baseball, Talking Monday Night Football, and I'm dying to find this one. Someone apparently has their own updated card sets for Statis Pro Basketball with Idaho State's women's team for this year, complete with fake names, although you can figure out folks by the height. Nice.

They have numbers...
Evan Dietrich-Smith is #62, and D.J. Clark is #32 for the Panthers.

Holy cow....

Brandon Veltri Named Head Coach at Carroll
Former Doug Oliver graduate assistant Brandon Veltri is now the head man at Carroll College. This is noteworthy because he was the assistant coach and SPORTS INFORMATION DIRECTOR. Very cool.


Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the Journal's story on the University of Idaho's DC being arrested for a DUI this weekend. They WILL print a story, right? They WILL use "end of the world" headlines, right?

There's the old saying/belief that a newspaper's role is that of a community watchdog. That's fine, but unfortunately, too many seem to cross the line and become more like "attack dogs." At that point, most credibility is lost.

It's no secret the print media is hurting. Are they writing sensationalized stories to retain what readership they have? Does a "reporter" lose any and all credibility after writing a scathing commentary?

I should mention, I'm also looking forward to the myriad of stories the Journal will print concerning the community service all of the athletes provide. They WILL print them, right? They WILL use the "end of the world" headlines, right?

Anonymous said...

The issue I have is that the Idaho State Journal makes it seem like these type of problems are unique to ISU. They most certainly are not.

Let's not forget that the University of Montana had an assistant basketball coach arrested - TWICE - for DUI in recent years. Let's not forget all of the off the field problems its players face (FAR worse than most schools I know, including ISU). Because they win, it's overlooked.

Boise State had an assistant basketball coach arrested for a DUI this past season. Was it reported by the local media? I never saw it (even though they insist there is a huge demand for BSU coverage in SE Idaho). Has there been an editorial for Graham to retire or be fired? I don't recall seeing one.

EWU's head basketball coach was arrested for DUI this past season.

By no means am I condoning this behavior. These coaches shoud be leading by example, and they are letting the program, players, university, and the town down for their actions. However, it is NOT a problem unique to ISU. In fact, I'd venture to guess that in the last couple of years, ISU has had far fewer incidents than most schools average.

The goal should be ZERO instances, but welcome to the real world: kids make mistakes, and they will have to learn the consequences for making those mistakes.

Frank, let this be a lesson. Don't count on the local media to report the good ISU and its players do. How about some features on the main page which detail the community service projects some of the coaches and players participate in? How about some reports on how APR and graduation rates are improving? How about some recognition of some outstanding SCHOLAR-Athletes?