Monday, April 6, 2009

j'accuse? non. je fais seulement un conjecture

'Cause I got another post left about it. Yes, I'm talking about basketball coaches; no, I'm not talking about the assistant coach speculation. I honestly can't bring myself to care very much. Would it be nice if a UVA alum was hired? Sure, that'd be cool. I trust Bennett to know what he wants in an assistant coach though and I'm not interested in bringing the hammer of criticism that he "doesn't get" UVA, Virginia, and/or the mid-Atlantic if his last hire or two aren't regional enough. And I certainly don't care whether he's in Detroit, Pullman, Charlottesville, or Sri Lanka on any given day. Somehow I can muster up the patience to wait for a third assistant coach to be hired. And given the fact that 100% of people following UVA basketball failed to accurately predict the head coach, I'm not going to get sucked into the speculation business this time around. If you can't get enough of the guessing game, have a gander at Jeff White who's better at turning up the nuggets of sweet sweet rumoronium than I am.

Now, this isn't the first time that directly contradictory information has come out about this whole search (remember the spooky midnight tour?) and it won't be the last time directly contradictory information comes out about any coaching search. On the one hand you have the party line from the executive associate athletic director: "There were no other offers on the table. Ever." On the other, you have Adam Gottschalk. There was an offer, Gottschalk says, and he's backed up by the St. Paul Pioneer Press which says Tubby "could have had" the job.

The sum and gist of Gottschalk's story is that Tubby was basically one step from coming on down until the offer was torpedoed by President Casteen. Naturally, he and Oliver can't both be telling the truth. Even if you read "offer" to mean as official and legal as possible, in writing and in triplicate and all that, Oliver very clearly says "This (meaning Bennett) was the first choice." He even acknowledged the Tubby rumors and dismissed them out of hand. It's as unequivocal a statement as you can get.

It's tempting to believe Gottschalk, because Casteen has been the target of fans' ire before. And what you read in the newspaper is never ever ever ever ever the whole story, ever. The problem with Gottschalk's argument, though, is the way he frames it: "Still, it’s just a strong rumor, based on fact, mixed with conjecture, so take it for what it’s worth."

Then he proceeds to tell the story, without bothering to tell us what's fact and what's conjecture. Which is annoying. How seriously am I supposed to take this? Should I read it and get all lathered up and fire off invectives at Casteen? How seriously does Gottschalk believe it? I think he probably believes it pretty strongly, which is about as strong a statement I can say about it because in giving himself an out (in order to keep the University from drying up his sources) he waters down his message. And in the end I can't take it seriously. There's a reason Émile Zola wrote "J'accuse" (I accuse) and not "Je devine" (I guess). If Gottschalk has an accusation, he needs to make the accusation, stick by it, and not mix his fact with his conjecture so that nobody can tell the difference and so he can weasel out of it if taken to task. Accuse or don't. If he's afraid of losing his job or his "ins" at the University, he should shut up and stop aiming spitballs at the institution. Because it's not fair to Casteen, even if he did sink a Tubby offer, to have people who read Gottschalk's blog coming up with their own ideas of what happened because Gottschalk doesn't have the cojones to stick by a story or the good common sense to keep his mouth shut when there isn't one. Sometimes good journalism isn't about what you print, it's what you don't.

As for me, I can only wonder why Casteen would agree to build a gleaming, nine-figure, professional-quality arena in a very prominent place on Grounds and then cheap out on a coach costing 2.4% of that. If Casteen and the academic eggheads "were not comfortable with UVa (a school that fashions itself after the Ivy leagues) being a school that would pay any coach 3.2 million dollars per season" why would they be comfortable building a huge new arena with a big videoboard and ohbytheway speaking of videoboards, adding a new one to the football stadium? It doesn't make sense and for that reason (as well as those reasons already stated), I take Gottschalk's story with a grain of salt. A really huge, extra-salty grain of salt.

Edit: hey, a little something footbally, too. This was actually dug up by ESPN's Heather, and should in the slightest be taken as schadenfreude. Seriously. But it seems Peter Lalich is not having such a good spring over in Corvallis.

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