This morning ESPN profiled former Rutgers basketball head coach Mike Rice on their Outside the Lines program. Twenty-six months before the very same program broadcast the infamous video of Rice physically and verbally abusing his players, which led to his firing soon after. Today's show was focused on the rehabilitation of Rice and his quest for redemption. He wants a second chance to coach again at the collegiate level. He wants everyone to know he has changed and deserves that second chance. Rice said he has learned how to blend "old school values versus new school technique." It showed him working at the Hoop Group in Neptune, New Jersey, where he is in his second year there as Director of Team Tournaments. Rice is coaching his son's U17 AAU team's practice in the video. The same edge and fire is present, minus the cursing, slurs and abuse.
The program highlighted Rice's intent was to incorporate Navy Seal training into Rutgers practices and that ultimately he went overboard. John Barr, who reported on Rice when the scandal hit in 2013 and for today's report, stated coaches in the college game have told Rice they have learned from his mistakes. Some college coaches have had to change how they speak to players and behave in practice. ESPN called it "The Mike Rice Effect." ESPN college basketball writer Andy Katz said the odds were against Rice overcoming this coaching scandal more so than others because this one showed a "disturbed character flaw." The current lawsuits against Rice and Rutgers where mentioned as another obstacle in his return to the college game. We heard from former Director of Player Development, Eric Murdock, who was interviewed by host Bob Ley. Murdock stated once again that "the video doesn't tell the true story" and that it was "a lot worse on a day to day basis."
I'm not going to rehash all the details of the scandal that made national headlines and brought shame to the university most of us that visit this site love so dearly. Dave White covered the Mike Rice scandal here, here and here. And here is a summary of blame for the scandal covered by this site back in 2013.
I will say that as a human I sympathize with any person that makes mistakes to the point that their family and loved ones suffer along with them. I believe most people deserve second chances once they take responsibility for their actions and make an effort to change in a positive way. Was Rice sincere in his interview and does he deserve that second chance? I think he was sincere in the regret he feels for bringing shame to his family. However, there was no talk of his regret for bringing shame on Rutgers or the basketball program, hurting players careers and emotional well-being, and ultimately costing the jobs of a few, including former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti. No, this was about the self promotion of the Mike Rice redemption story. He talked about the thrill of coaching and being a part of the game and how he wants that back. I would argue he does have it back and should be lucky it came so soon after the scandal. So working and coaching at the Hoop Group and at the AAU level is not Division I basketball, but beggars cannot be choosers. If Rice truly loves the game, and not the glory and fame that can come with it, shouldn't he already feel blessed to have the opportunity he has?
I think Rice is still in a bit of denial that manhandling and abusing players is something that can be forgotten and forgiven because he is sorry. The reality is Rice has no chance to work in college basketball in the near future, if ever. Letting the very same network and program that villainized and profited off of your mistakes, now promote your redemption for their promotion of the 25th anniversary of that program seems desperate. The bottom line is Mike Rice should be eternally grateful for the opportunity to coach his son's AAU team. And that should be enough.
If you missed any of today's discussions on Mike Rice's hope for another college coaching job, watch them here: http://t.co/KTqyrCvpFv— Outside The Lines (@OTLonESPN) July 5, 2015