Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Say goodbye to Coach Kelvin Sampson.
ESPN is reporting the obvious: that Sampson is almost inevitably gone before Saturday's game with Northwestern.
Everyone in Hoosier Nation must realize it at this point. It isn't, nor has it ever been, about wins and losses. It's about lying and truthfulness and character and integrity. All the things athletics, especially collegiate athletics, are supposedly about.
Watching the game tonight got me a bit choked up in the final moments. Here was this man's last game as coach of a top-5 NCAA basketball program? Partially for phone calls, mostly for lying. Perhaps lying about a little "overzealous recruiting" as one of the dumbest announcers in sports, Brent Musberger, put it? He lost because he wanted to stay competitive in the cut-throat recruiting world, and even when caught once, he couldn't quit. He wasn't giving out $100 handshakes, no-show jobs to parents, houses or cars to stand-out players. He just wanted to talk to these kids and get them to play Sooner and Hoosier basketball. You have to feel a bit of sympathy for the guy.
His results are very respectable, but his methods were tainted. Just like frequent reader Young Illiniwek's favorite President: Richard Nixon. Successful, but shady. And for similar reasons, he must go. I think the general sentiment in Hoosier Nation is comparable to that in the U.S.A. during Nixon's resignation, too. General disbelief, pity, anger, but with a strange acceptance, too.
Maybe a baseball analogy is better: some people get crucified, like Pete Rose or Kelvin Sampson, while others get off relatively easy, like Andy Pettite, Bryan Roberts, Jason Giambi, etc. Can you really say that what Sampson has done, events and Oklahoma AND IU considered, is worse that happened under John Calipari's watch at UMass, where their Final Four appearance has an asterisk next to it?
IU will move on, probably with Dan Dakich, maybe, just maybe (but not likely), with Kelvin Sampson. And maybe they'll go far this year. But unless they win it all, and perhaps even if they do, this year will go down as one of the darkest in IU history. Maybe even worse than the year 2000. We just have to stand up and face it like true fans, and support the program. And hope that looking back in a few decades, the Hoosiers regroup from this with a new leader and new purpose, and hopefully minimal NCAA infractions.