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Mike Rice’s former players defend him publicly

Apr 4, 2013, 9:54 AM EDT

spt-120117-mikerice AP

The last 48 hours have likely been brutal for former Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice, as he’s been bashed by everyone from sportswriters to the Governor of New Jersey — deservedly so — over the video that was released by former staffer Eric Murdock of Rice’s abusive practices.

It can’t be pleasant to get crushed over and over again, but Rice can take solace in one thing: his former players have come out to back him.

“They also don’t account for all the other things that go on in our program,” Austin Johnson told TODAY’s Natalie Morales. “Coach Rice has done a lot for me and my family.” Said Sean Bannon, “I think the large majority of the players felt the exact same way I did. I don’t think we were ever really uncomfortable or felt threatened.”

That’s a fair point to make. I’m sure that Rice did do some good things for his players, and I’m sure that the way the video was edited and shown on Outside The Lines completely ignored every time that he cheered on his players or congratulated them for a good play.

But that’s really besides the point.

The good things that he did really don’t matter.

Not when there’s video evidence of a coach pushing, kicking and throwing basketballs at his players while directing gay slurs their way.

Coach K would get fired if a video like that came out.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. cullimon - Apr 4, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Only coach k and Tom Izzo wouldn’t get fired if that happened to them

  2. therealgts - Apr 4, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    You’re kidding right? There is no coach on the planet who is that untouchable. There is no one who would keep their job after this media firestorm.

    • tommyrandall - Apr 5, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      Jon Rothstein (reporter/columnist) has already stated he’s seen the same thing in gyms across the country.

  3. ningenito78 - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    You media people and sports writers are such fu-king idiots. I love how the players point of view, or the ‘victims’ as they have now been labeled, is just brushed aside like it doesn’t matter. 183 articles about how big a scumbag Mike Rice is and 12 lines dedicated to what the ‘victims’ think of everything. The reason all the good he did doesn’t matter is because the media decided it didn’t. Also just ignoring the fact that the edited video was put together and made public by a 2 cent extortionist. I’m not going to defend Rice’s behavior on that video but the idea that all these sportswriters an media people are now officially judge and jury in a time where they fu-ked up more stories than a 5 year old with a pen and paper (see: Duke, Lacrosse or Saints, Bounty or Bernie Fine, Child Molestor, etc) and the public STILL just follows them right down the hole like a bunch of drooling idiots. Maybe we should pay some more attention to what the ‘victims’ opinions are here. After all, despite what everybody believes now, they are the ONLY ones that know exactly what happened.

  4. larrybrown43 - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Austin Johnson sounds exactly like an abused wife or child with his justifications.

  5. mogogo1 - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    “I don’t think we were ever really uncomfortable or felt threatened.”

    That statement must make Rice feel like a total failure. Because I don’t think he was throwing balls in guys’ faces and screaming slurs to make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    But the guys in the video didn’t look terribly comfortable with what was going on. And if they weren’t threatened, how come nobody said “Hey, coach, we really like and respect you, but could you maybe not call us bleeping bleeps quite so often?”

  6. pandebailey - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Rob – you are right – the good things that Rice did are beside the point. If you abuse players just once, every good thing you did in coaching doesn’t count. Its a little like robbing a bank – it really doesn’t matter if you’ve been a model customer for years now does it?

    But its not “besides the point” – its “beside the point”, beside is a preposition like “over”, “under” and “below”. For future blogging, the rule is a preposition is “everything a plane can do to a cloud”. A plane can’t be “besides” a cloud.

  7. arlingtonsynn - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    And the difference between Knight and Rice….

    Their record.

    • klownboy - Apr 4, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      Exactly. You made my point for me lol. If Rice was winning, who knows if a video would have ever been made

  8. funktron2x - Apr 4, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    The only reason the good things “don’t matter” is because we are swiftly watching the general public become a mob that judges based on video cloud that show 1/1000000th of the entire story. They should matter, because every human doors good and bad in his life. I don’t condone the actions of Rice, but I also don’t think that the initial punishment was bad or that the ad should be fired for choosing to try to rehabilitate instead of cutting the bad arm off and just throwing it away. It’s a little scary how much weight the general public is throwing settings these days based off of scant information.

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