John Feinstein responds

In a follow up to his comments Wednesday on Tony Kornheiser's radio show, John Feinstein just posted an explanation of sorts on his website. I'm going to respond to several of his points below.

The irony is, if you listen, I started my response to Tony’s question about a long simmering controversy at Rutgers about the importance of—and the money spent on—athletics by saying, "look, Rutgers is a very good school." Tony instantly challenged that because he believes the only institution of higher learning in the United States that is any good is Binghamton, his alma mater.

Fair enough, although it seemed pretty obvious that Kornheiser was being facetious, and hence I don't think anyone was really getting worked up about that in the first place.

Schiano is not (as you point out) the only coach who runs up scores. But he constantly insists he’s NOT running up the score. A few years ago, up 42-0 in the SECOND quarter against Norfolk State (Norfolk State?) he used all three of his time outs to score again before halftime. He then insisted the move was justified because you never knew if a team might rally in the second half. Please.

I know that Schiano always says that he never lets off the throttle in the first half (for example, look at the scoring disparity from the 2008 Louisville game) as a justification for building up wide margins in the first half. Rutgers scored 48 points before halftime and 14 afterwards in that game, and the second stringers took over IIRC in the second half. Did Schiano actually say that though? All I can find is the following.

"It was the first half of the game. You coach and teach your kids to play. If your starters are in there, you play the game the way you coach it."

Anyway, as Feinstein concedes, it's fairly commonplace. How does running up the score necessarily make Schiano a bad guy? I can't substantiate the rest of the point - that Schiano either constantly insists that he doesn't, or that he's unique in that regard. Even if this was true, what's exactly the big deal? Does a little fib here an there reflect on someone's general character all that much? For a true measurement of that you have to look at how a coach runs his program on a day to day basis.

The first time Schiano took a team to play at Navy he was sent—as is customary—a pre-game itinerary. Navy’s is a little different than most schools because the Brigade of Midshipmen marches on before the game, which means the teams (BOTH teams) need to leave the field a few minutes earlier than normal. Coaches are always alerted to this and know it is part of playing a game at Navy. Schiano not only objected, he kept his team on the field while the brigade began its march-on. Then he insisted after the game he hadn’t been informed about the march-on. Sorry Rutgers folks, that just wasn’t the case.

Is it possible that there was a mixup along the chain of communication? This, again, is stretching to cite one incident from over five years ago and generalize it into a general character trait.

Schiano (like a lot of coaches) is an absolute control freak. Did any of you watch the bowl game? Even the ESPN sideline reporter was frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t get anything resembling a semi-honest answer—or any answer at all—about Rutgers players who came out of the game hurt. What was Schiano doing, hiding an injury from next week’s opponent? Oh wait, the next game isn’t until September. Again, he’s certainly not unique in doing this but it gets old with all these guys.

Absolutely true, but this is absolutely irrelevant to the point that Feinstein made on the show.

Later on, John continues by detailing the reason that he dislikes Tim Pernetti. Apparently he's still smarting over Pernetti preferring Steve Lappas to do color for an Army/Navy basketball game. I'm sorry, but that entire section comes off as overwhelmingly petty. Essentially he took a rejection way too personally and still can't get over it years later. He took any perceived slight as a personal attack, became ultra-defensive, and thew a temper tantrum as you would expect a spoiled child would.

And remember folks, this isn't message board scuttlebutt - it's the argument that Feinstein thought would best support his case. Good lord you egomaniac, get over yourself. No one put a gun to the Patriot League's head and forced them to take CSTV's money. They're writing the checks, their rules; that's generally how things tend to work in practice, with the whole "material goods and services can be exchanged for currency" routine. Really, THAT's his response? Excuse me for a moment while I check this laughing fit with a brown paper bag.

Never mind that experience in high-level management at ABC Sports and CSTV/CBS Sports is kind of relevant to being an athletic director at a major FBS athletic department. If only to ramp the inanity up to eleven, Feinstein attempts to support his point by citing hearsay from mid-level CSTV staffers. The thing is though, that's really beside the point. Everyone's heard the stories about Schiano's idiosyncracies. Hell, I and other fans even joke about those at times, but I don't recall anyone connected to the program that ever had a disparaging word to say about Pernetti.

Tim's personable - I mean hell, look at his pressers, we are very lucky to have such a telegenic and eloquent person as the public face of the athletic department. That charm has proven very effective at CSTV and later Rutgers. The bottom line is that the start-up CSTV was eventually sold for a large profit, and Pernetti's first several months on the job here have been a smashing success, obliterating all expectations and hesitation because he didn't come from a more-traditional background. There is not one possible way to criticize Pernetti's job performance as athletic director up to this point on the merits.

Let's turn around Feinstein's logic on his head. I think he's been absolute buffoon about this whole matter, and only dug himself into a deeper hole by giving this ridiculous explanation for his incoherent behavior. Would it be be fair then to generalize and say that Feinstein has nothing to contribute in all facets; that all can safely dismiss his commentary about Navy sports, or all of those glowing pieces about Duke basketball? No, because only fools draw those kinds of sweeping, all-encompanying conclusions from brief, prejudiced interactions, and see non-sensical patterns in completely isolated and unrelated incidents.

I do NOT think the 11,000 seat expansion was needed—sellouts are better than empty seats. I DO think Rutgers is a very good school no matter what Tony says and there are few people I admire more in sports than Rutgers alum David Stern.

If the even one more person can attend the games in person now that couldn't before, then certainly some have benefited from expansion; never mind any future ticket demand. And how exactly are sellouts "better" when the math from the current setup seems to be working? The only "bad guys" are the ones who want to run an athletic department perpetually in the red, and take money away from university academics to foot the bill.

And funny he should mention David Stern, considering his immoral and underhanded actions involving the relocations of the Seattle Sonics and New Jersey Nets, far worse than any supposed crimes attributed to Schiano and Pernetti. How ironic is to criticize those two, and admire someone who now sullies the school by association. Declaring infinity for Rutgers figures X and Y does little to lighten the brunt of those unsubstantiated attacks. If this is all Mr. Feinstein has, his opinion can be henceforth safely dismissed forevermore as another talking head, full of hot air, his only cares in the world being self-promotion and the sound of his own voice.

Update: He has a second response up, full of more backpeddling and cherry picking while ignoring the point at hand. Still not seeing anything pertinent at all to the points at hand. What a clown.

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