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Mike Rice Firing: How Eric Murdock’s departure set off chain reaction

Apr 3, 2013, 11:11 AM EDT

Mike Rice AP

Here’s the sad part about Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice being fired: if video never surfaces, then he still has a job.

And why did the video surface?

Because whatever spat that Rice got into with former staff member Eric Murdock couldn’t be resolved cordially. Murdock did not have his contract renewed by the university, so he blew the whistle. He went to Rice’s boss and tried to get him fired. When that didn’t work, he went to Outside The Lines and made sure that the world saw the video, because if the world didn’t see the video, Rutgers was going to do nothing more than smack Rice on the wrist and sweep this under the rug.

I doubt Murdock ever gets a job coaching in the college ranks again. There’s a no snitching policy when it comes to coaches, and that’s why it took Bruce Pearl so long to climb the coaching ranks after he recorded a conversation between himself and a recruit that he lost out on. That’s why Abar Rouse, who blew the whistle on Baylor’s Dave Bliss, spent so long in coaching oblivion.

That’s the truly sad part here.

MORE: Rice isn’t the only coach who behaves this way

Because the details of what was on that tape wasn’t a secret. We all knew about it. When Rice was suspended for three games back in December, Brendan Prunty — who did a terrific job getting out in front of this story — of the Newark Star-Ledger reported that the punishment was the result of:

an internal investigation that revealed abusive, profane language used by Rice toward his players and an incident during his first or second season in which Rice threw basketballs at some players’ heads during practice.

Again, to reiterate, we knew about this!

Is there anything on the video that we watched on Outside The Lines that is different than what Prunty reported back in December? Or is the change in attitude simply the result of the fact that we all finally had a chance to see the video and react to it ourselves?

In the end, it’s the reaction to the video that got Rice fired and, in all likelihood, is going to get Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti fired.

MORE: Rights group expresses support for Rice’s firing

But the root cause for the firing?

Allowing Murdock to walk away angry.

Because if Murdock leaves the Rutgers happy, or if he is still employed by the university, Rice is still firing basketballs at his players.

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You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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