New York Post sports columnist Phil Mushnick is bored.
You know how I know he’s bored?
Because he decided to compare the approach of two retired college coaches — UConn’s Jim Calhoun and Grambling’s Eddie Robinson — by criticizing them for running up the score in games played several decades ago to that of Southern’s Sandy Pugh handling of a recent 78-26 win over Mississippi Valley State.
Mushnick, in his column entitled “Women’s coach could show legends how to ethically destroy teams,” accuses both Calhoun and Robinson of poor sportsmanship by unnecessarily humiliating opponents.
Robinson — though nationally hailed as an inspirational, beloved leader of young black men at a mostly black university (the college football coach of the year award is named in his honor) — had a horrible habit of senselessly slaughtering opponents, teams of young black men from historically black universities.
All I can surmise from this is “WHAT ABOUT BLACK-ON-BLACK CRIME!”
Some of the particulars bordered on the sadistic, including 87-12 over Morgan State and 77-7 over Prairie View. Wins by more than 55 or 60 points were a Robinson standard.
Eddie Robinson was the Jigsaw of college football coaches, right?
Mushnick clutched his pearls and pounded out this paragraph:
In that 87-12 win, Robinson used a tackle-eligible play to score a two-point conversion to make it 44-6, then with 2 seconds left in the half and leading 53-6, Robinson called time to take another shot at scoring
How do I explain this to my unborn child when he reads Robinson’s Wikipedia page?
But such facts couldn’t compete with pandering fiction, thus Robinson was, and still is, synonymous with college coaching altruism
Such a man with that history of abuse should not be held in high-esteem, Phil. You’re on it, buddy!
But according to Mushnick, Pugh, unlike the sinister Robinson, beat down the Delta Devils “the right way.”
Southern coach Sandy Pugh played it like a champ. None of her starters played more than 17 minutes. All 14 of her players played at least 11 minutes. All of them scored at least two points, none more than 11.
Here’s to you, Sandy Pugh. A 52-point win won the right way. All her kids played and played a lot. It can be done, and it happens.
There are a lot things philosophically wrong with this column that needs explaining starting with the headline.
What can Pugh show Calhoun and Robinson here?
Neither man is currently coaching.
In the case of Robinson, he’s dead.
And I’m not sure Calhoun knows Pugh even exists.
Let’s figure out this concept of ethically destroying a team.
Is it like exterminating a pest with bug spray instead of whacking it with a size 12 Jordan sneaker?
Or breaking up with your girlfriend in person rather than via text message?
How about taking out enemy combatants with troops on the ground instead of wayward drone strikes?
Mushnick wants there to be some level of humanity in college sports where none exists.
Though he’s the not concerned that a coach like Florida’s Jim McElwain can berate one his players on national television and be reprimanded.
No where has Mushnick written how unethical it is that athletes are not paid for their labor while some college coaches make more than their NBA and NFL counterparts.
Where is the outrage over universities that create environments where male athletes can commit acts of violence and alleged sex crimes against women on campus and escape any serious punishment?
That would be expecting too much from him, though. Mushnick is the same guy who once wrote that after learning rapper Jay-Z owned a tiny portion of the Brooklyn Nets that the team should have been named “the New York N*****s.”
Then there is the whole contrived and intellectually dishonest idea of winning the right way in competition Mushnick conveys.
It’s a tired and worn premise. If your team has conquered the opposition within the context of the rules, what’s the problem?
A baseball team up five or more runs in a game, especially late, can’t steal bases or bunt for a hit, some say.
A football squad up by three or more touchdowns in the fourth quarter is obligated not to throw a pass on subsequent offensive possessions out of respect for the opponent.
A basketball coach whose bunch is winning by an absurd amount of points is expected to call off the dogs. Empty the bench. Milk the clock. Play NBA All-Star Game caliber defense to show mercy.
Deploy the white guys and the Egyptian against the overmatched HBCU.
That’s why the run-rule and running clock have been implemented in amateur sports to prevent the embarrassment from being prolonged any further.
The unwritten rules of blowout decorum are a by product of protecting the fragile egos competitors and those who feel inferior by the successes of others.
It’s why the act-like-you-been-there-before crowd gets irked by Cam Newton dabbing after touchdowns or Jose Batista flipping his bat after slugging a dramatic homer in a heated playoff game.
Athletes and coaches, especially minorities, are unfairly expected to perform up standards set by the white creators of the games we enjoy.
They are supposed to adhere to often culturally oppressive expectations of conduct — whether righteous or not — that fit white sensibilities.
When I hear someone say play the game the right way, the really mean play it the white way.
Play it and coach it like the nondescript white man did when the popular television shows of the day starred Opie, Andy,and Dick.
Because we all know white people have a sterling reputation of exhibition proper conduct.
What’s also distributing is that Mushnick implied that Pugh was less cutthroat simply because she’s a woman.
While it might be true that women tend to be more considerate in general than men, female athletes and coaches compete with no less ferocity.
I recently had the opportunity to cover a UConn women’s basketball game when the undefeated Huskies played against the University of Tulsa.
The UConn women won by 64 that night.
After the slaughter, Tulsa coach Matilda Mossman said she pretty much expected her team to be overwhelmed because “that’s what they do to everybody.”
Interestingly enough, Mossman pointed out how UConn was unique in that it seemed, for all intents and purposes, to run up the score against opponents even after jumping out to a large lead.
“They play hard from the first possession to the last possession,” she said.
This is not about applauding Pugh for showing her male contemporaries anything about compassion when the score gets out of hand.
It’s about a columnist trying to use a deceased Eddie Robinson and women’s head basketball coach who he probably hadn’t heard of before writing the piece to project his own insecurities about sports.
That’s far worse than any blowout a team could administer.