Friday, February 27, 2015

Time warped

It has been the coach's lament since Coach Oog first commanded his Cave City Rock Flingers to drop and give him twenty: Kids today just aren't the same.

Like most laments, it's only half-true. What's not the same today, or on any today for all time, is how we handle kids.

Once upon a time you shoved 'em, you screamed at 'em, you grabbed 'em by the throat. And you sneered at anyone who suggested you should apologize for any of it.


Now a coach gets in touch with his inner Bob Knight and feels compelled to apologize profusely. Which is what happened when Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings -- a Purdue grad, ironically -- profanely berated one of his players for clapping sarcastically at the end of a win at Tennessee last night.

It was nothing less than a time warp: Stallings screaming at Wade Baldwin IV, saying "We don't (bleeping) do that" and "I'm going to (bleeping) kill you" as he forced him to go back through the handshake line and apologize. The moment was an unedited page from the Knight school of discipline, and it came from a coach whose demeanor has always been the polar opposite.

And was again in the postgame, when Stallings publicly apologized, saying in so many words that he had embarrassed Vanderbilt and should have handled the situation differently. And he was as right as he could possibly be on both counts.

But as Faulkner once famously said, the past is never dead, it's not even past. And so you can be sure there was a whole segment of America who watched the clip of Stallings telling one of his players he was going to kill him, and ached with nostalgia.  Those were the days, by God. Men were men, coaches were coaches and you could do just about anything you wanted to some snot-nosed kid without meddling Pollyannas tsk-tsking over it. And you for sure didn't apologize, because apology is weakness.

All I can say is this: What a load. And thank God those days are gone.

Thank God Kevin Stallings recognized what he'd done, and apologized for it. That didn't mean he was letting Wade Baldwin IV off the hook. It only meant he understood who he was representing, and how you should conduct yourself accordingly.

Contrary to the once-accepted meme, it takes a man to do that. And so here's your score for today: Present 1, Past 0.


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