by Kent Sterling
Dan Dakich is a great radio host because his genuine curiosity evokes answers that lead to unique opinions. I spent 90-minutes with Dan today in the 1070 the Fan studio, and he asked me about Rutgers. The most interesting part of the discussion dealt with journalistic weasels – my term, not Dan’s – and the way they scratch the itch of a story until it bleeds.
Dan wanted to know if I remember all of the weddings that I stood up in, and if I can recall appearing in videos? The question is relevant in the Julie Hermann/Rutgers flap because Hermann did not recall being in the wedding of the assistant coach she subsequently fired – either for being pregnant or because of poor performance, depending upon who you believe.
I remember all the weddings I have been in, but have no idea what I might have said 16 years ago into a camcorder. Open bars when I was in my 20s led to many memorable moments of which I thankfully have no recollection.
Would anyone give a damn about Julie Hermann if she was hired as the athletic director at Iowa, Georgia, or Boston College and called members of the volleyball team she coached “Whores, alcoholics, and learning disabled”? If not for the recent idiocy at Rutgers, would reporters from the Newark Star-Ledger have dug until they found the controversial end of her tenure at Tennessee 16 years ago? Could they have found the videotape of the wedding Q&A in which Hermann told her assistant not to get pregnant?
Those are damn good questions, and my answer is no to all of them. Most journalists resemble a hound dog in that they generally lay on the porch until a scent passes across their snout, and then their demeanor changes. They become engaged, curious, and relentless.
The firing of basketball coach Mike Rice was prompted by videotape being dropped in the lap of the media and led to the firing or forced resignation of Hermann’s predecessor Tim Pernetti, and the next shoe to drop was supposed to be Rutgers President Robert Barchi. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pulled the plug with his vote of confidence, but the media wasn’t done.
If Rutgers was dumb enough to keep Rice around despite damning video evidence of his volatile and abusive behavior, surely they can’t be trusted to properly hire another athletic director, so the media went back to work – completing the kind of background check Rutgers probably expected for the $70K fee charged by a firm that does that sort of thing as a business.
And there is only one thing journalists enjoy more than finding a chink in the armor of powerful people, it’s a good game of gotcha. So the question was asked about the videotape at the press conference where Hermann was introduced as the new AD. She said, “There’s no videotape, trust me!”
From that point, the game was on. Every piece of untoward character wrecking dust and grime would be swept from the corners of a life of 49 years that we all have. It would be poured over and exposed, and we would watch because what’s more fun than seeing the powerful have their careers ended because of their own stupidity.
There aren’t ten coaches in college sports who have treated their student-athletes with the respect they believe is due them. Kids get pissed. Things happen. Hopefully everyone learns.
I’m sure Hermann learned a lot about the line that divides intense and abusive. As anyone who has ever been in corporate mandated training on harassment can tell you the difference is in the perception of the recipient, not the intent of the manager.
Hermann continues to twist in the wind, saved from national media scrutiny by the inane and humorless babblings of Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee, who is the gift that keeps giving by insulting Catholics, the Polish Army, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Brett Bielema, southerners, the University of Louisville, and others.
The only hope for a woman like Hermann is that someone else will do something dumber before the noise grows to loud for administrators who hate answering accusations where the only logical answers are, “Yes, we are idiots,” or “We are in the process of reviewing the employment of (fill in the soon-to-be-fired employee).”
If it provides any solace to Hermann or a better answer than I provided at the time to Dan, she is in the line of fire, but not the target. Barchi is the target, and as long as he’s the president at Rutgers, there will be reporters combing over records to uncover additional embarrassing hires, terminations, and misdeeds.
And from a pragmatic perspective, Hermann’s job is among the safest in New Jersey because letting her go would be career suicide for Barchi. His only answer after the three potholes he has nearly drowned in would be to admit incompetence, and you don’t become a university president by owning errors like these.
Wow, I only see about 16 things wrong with your column….let me just pick a few:
Dan Dakich needs to add some genuine common sense to his “genuine curiosity”….of course the claims of a lying, absusive former coach are more relevant at Rutgers than almost anywhere else right now. That’s like asking if Moore, OK is more sensitive to the sound of Tornado sirens than Piscataway, NJ is…..uh, yeah. And there’s a good reason.
So the media just picks away at small details until they find a minor flaw? Julie Hermann clearly lied to everyone within earshot of her voice, multiple times. And they weren’t tiny, clever lies….they were totally inept lies that your scared 3 year old would try to tell. “Wedding? I think she eloped.” OMG, this woman will be the AD?
Finally, all sports players bitch about their coaches? Not really true, even a bunch of Rice’s kids backed him even after the video. But the point is how many TEAMS write a letter at season-end saying “Its the coach…. or us!” Go ahead, name another time that’s happened anywhere….I’ll wait.
It happens more often than you would guess, but it’s usually diffused. I can think of three times of which I have first hand knowledge since 2011. In one case, the coach was bounced. In the other two, calmer heads prevailed.
I may not have conveyed the question as well as I might have. Prior to the outrageous lying, did the media spend more energy researching Hermann’s background because of the previous malfeasance at Rutgers? Once the abuse from 1997, wrongful dismissal of the assistant, and recent lies were uncovered blood was in the water for all to follow.
The picking of flaws began uncovering the mutiny from 16 years ago. From that point forward, Hermann gnawed off her own arm to try to conceal the scab.
I don’t buy that team mutinies are anything but extremely rare…..none of the most abusive coaches in history ever had a team mutiny, not Mike Rice, Bob Knight, Dave Bliss, Mark Mangino. College kids will put up with incredible jerks…which makes Hermann’s team’s letter even more telling.
And the most revealing item of all? The fact that many of her former players said they were reluctant to talk for the first time last week because they were afraid, 16 years later, of Julie Hermann coming after them and ruining their lives…again, in revenge. How scary is that?
You and I have no idea whether there were mutinies against Rice, Bliss, Knight, or Mangino. None were successful, as far as we know, but we have no idea whether a group of kids walked into Dave Bliss’s office to be released from their scholarships only to be compelled not to leave.
It’s not ANY of her past deeds that has done in Julie Hermann – it’s her blatant lying about them that did.
She doesn’t remember being the BRIDESMAID of her assistant coach’s wedding, catching the bouquet??? I think she eloped???
She doesn’t remember the meeting where ALL 15 of her athletes demanded her gone??? That meeting most likely is what changed her ways to become a decent administrator. She could’ve owned the experience in advance of her press conference, and said how much she learned from past mistakes. Instead she flat out lied – claiming amnesia – sorry – you are NOT a fit AD – go back to Louisville – try again some other time with some other school – and perhaps she’ll learn from THIS experience – My money is on – she won’t at all…
Does anybody except Mr Sterling consider Dan Dakich to be an expert at anything?
Answer me this: If you were coaching ANY team … even a bunch of 9 year olds … would you forget about a letter that every player on the team signed? Would you forget the reason you had to quit a job? Please.
ESPN considers Dan an expert. They’re pretty smart about knowing who the experts are.
No one would ever forget that letter. No one. But that’s not the point of this post. We’re not looking at the totality of the story here – just the initial investigation that led to this shitstorm of lies, forgotten weddings, and tales of verbal abuse.
espn is pretty smart about knowing who the experts are?
I doubt that…case in point stephen A: moron
There are those who are employed by ESPN whose jobs are to be polarizing figures. Others are employed to provide unique and informed analysis. Dan is one of the latter.
If there is anyone outside of the world of basketball who doesn’t believe that Dan knows more about basketball than they do – they are mistaken.
We are all entitled to our opinions, but Dan knows basketball, and he knows more about other sports than most.
Putting aside the merits os lack thereof as they relate to Mr. Dakich for a moment, I agree with Billy on ESPN. Their stamp of approval doesn’t necessarily validate anything.
Thank you for stating the obvious – NO- we wouldnt care if Julie Hermann was hired by University of Anchorage – even if she shot one of her former players dead…
but she wasnt hired by Anchorage – she was hired by rutgers – a school where a video of their b-ball coach went VIRAL showing him abusing his players and basically committing hate crimes – ONLY 2 MONTHS AGO – that caused an INTERNATIONAL outrage and disgust…
and then Fired the AD (threw him under the bus) – this was THE MOST important NCAA hire in the nation at this time – and they hired someone without doing ANY vetting – who basically did the same thing as the aforementioned b-ball coach – and then lied about it – saying she didnt remember…
THATS WHY EVERYONE CARES!!!
She’s gotta go – there is no other way…