PROVIDENCE, R.I. --- I'm sure the good folks at Seton Hall enjoyed waking up to the New York Daily news and New York Post this morning.
Post back page headline: SETON HELL
News back page headline: HALL OF SHAME
This all had to do worth the juicy firing of head basketball coach Bobby Gonzalez, a.k.a. "Gonzo," whose combination of out-of-control behavior and dubious selection of recruits offset the fact that he really can coach, and, in fact, has won more games in each of his four years at The Hall than the last. No one ever said that Gonzo doesn't know his hoops.
His excesses are well-documented. He has no problem with recruiting borderline thugs. He is a sick referee baiter. He has no skills in handling the media. We were told by both Manhattan (his previous stop) and Seton Hall people that bus drivers can't stand him In short, he is a quite unbalanced individual.
We routinely acknowledge that society coddles our young athletes, that all sorts of transgressions are allowed as long as he (or, sadly now, she) can play the game. Everyone talks about it, but no one ever does anything about it, and then one day some coach, be it college or pro, has an uncoachable problem on his or her hands.
So here's my question: it possible the same could be true with, ahem, coaches?
Think about it. We who follow college sports frequently enjoy a good laugh or two on the subject of whacked-out, one-dimensional lunatic coaches, in basketball more so than football. These are the so-called gym rat assistants who often escalate into extreme envelope-pushing head coaches. These people are as enabled in their own way as the players I referred to earlier. Why didn't someone sit them down and explain the facts of life to them? Why were they allowed to continue on their nutty path? It's because they might, in fact, have some actual coaching skill to go along with their lunatic proclivities. And it's also because people regard them as amusing. They're good conversational topics.
The first time I ever heard of Bobby Gonzalez was when he became a Providence College assistant many years ago. And what I heard was that this guy was certifiably crazy, a basketball loony of the first order. That was his rep then, and that continued to be his rep as he made his way up the coaching ladder.
Now it has all come crashing down. He is toxic. He is, I would think, unemployable. All he knows is basketball. He has a wife, a child, a mortgage and the type of bills we all have.
He could have been a good coach. But he was coddled in the exact same way countless players have been, and now he is a middle-aged man with an uncertain future. It would have been nice if someone had slowed him down a long time ago. But all anyone did was encourage him. There's a lot of blood on a lot of hands out there.