There are very few people who can find a way to excuse Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice for the behavior he exhibited in the practice clips that were released to the public on Tuesday. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” showed footage of Rice blatantly abusing his players, both physically and verbally (watch the video here). However, ex-Rutgers guard Mike Coburn said it is not as bad as it seems.
“Looking back at it now, it was extreme,” Coburn told The Star-Ledger. “It wasn’t right what he was doing. But we understood it. He was trying his best. … Did he go overboard? Yes, he went overboard. But you can’t get a good feel for what went down by seeing highlights on ESPN. No one was scared of coach Rice. We didn’t fear him. We just understood him.
“No one can get a sense of what went down unless you were there. And the only people that were there was the team. Do I think what he did was over the top and wrong? Probably. But as players, we weren’t scared. We knew and understood what was going on and mentally tough players could take it. … I agree it was wrong, but why haven’t they showed the times when Mike Rice was high-fiving and chest-bumping? Why aren’t they showing things like that with the players?”
It’s true that it would be hard to get the entire story if you were not present, but doesn’t the video show enough? In no situation is it acceptable to call college players “pu–ies” and “fa–ots” or kick them and fire basketballs at their heads. You need mental toughness to play for someone like Jim Calhoun, who was never afraid to berate a player and bench him in front of an arena full of 15,000 people. No one should have to deal with Rice’s coaching methods.