Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Is John Chaney At The End Of The Line?

He was clearly out of line, both Monday night and last night, that's for sure. On Monday, he told all who would listen that he was tired of St. Joe's using illegal screens to set up its shooters and that he was going to do something about it. On Tuesday night, he sent in seldom-used senior Nehemiah Ingram to send a message to the Hawks. Ingram fouled out in four minutes of action, mugging Hawks' center Dwayne Jones and doing all he could do to set the Guiness Book record for shortest time to get disqualified (he failed in that regard). The spectacle was bad enough, and then after the game John Chaney told the world that he sent Ingram into the game to goon it up.

Bad stuff.

Especially from a pillar of the game. A Hall of Fame coach who spent a lifetime battling the odds, for himself and his kids.

Temple jumped on the issue quickly, which is a tribute to President David Adamany. After all, they say the hallmark of a good compliance program is investigating matters promptly and then imposing appropriate corrective actions. So, by the time A-10 Commissioner Linda Bruno got with Adamany and Temple AD Bill Bradshaw, the Owls administration was ready with a statement of apology from Chaney and an agreed-to one-game suspension, which means that Chaney will miss the final home game for his seniors (which is fitting for Ingram, to whom he owes a major apology for putting him in a terrible position against St. Joe's last night).

Tonight Bruno appeared on WIP Radio in Philadelphia with talk-show host Howard Eskin, and she answered questions about the entire incident. Bruno said that she thought the incident was handled well, and that the A-10 has to move on.

Eskin, never one to shy away from a controversy, stated his opinion, which is that the punishment was way too short and that Chaney has overstayed his welcome at Temple, has too much sway over the administration there, and should be fired. He, like many, also thought that St. Joe's handled the whole affair with a great deal of class.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Temple's Actions. The Temple administration is to be commended for jumping on this situation very quickly. They held their coach accountable, brokered a good result for them, and can safely say that they took the whole affair very seriously. The jury is still out, of course, whether this is significant contrition or an expedient way to smooth over a bad situation. Time will tell. If Mt. Chaney erupts again, then the Temple administration failed in its mission here.

2. Chaney's Punishment. Chaney's punishment was too lenient, and the A-10 should have considered suspending him for the season. There are many reasons to support a longer suspension. One, Chaney telegraphed what he was planning to do before the game. What went on was premeditated. Two, this isn't the first time during his career that Chaney created a public spectacle. Years ago he created a bad scene after a game against UMass in which he charged into a press conference, erupted and said he was going to kill John Calipari. No one took the threat seriously, but it was a bad display of behavior. Third, he could have caused a riot in a packed arena. In a cross-town rivalry game, the potential of vocal fans becoming violent is no laughing matter. Lastly, he's a leader of young men, and he failed miserably and publicly. A-10 Commissioner Bruno took the easy way out here.

3. Should Chaney be Fired? No, he should not be. You don't throw away a career over an incident like this, but Temple needs to talk with Chaney seriously about his future and tell him the next time he's out. He's done enough at and for Temple not to get dismissed this time. In addition, his teams haven't performed that well over the past five years, suggesting that perhaps Chaney should retire. He's in a similar situation to that of Joe Paterno -- no one can let him go, and he's not willing to let go. But he should seriously consider passing the torch. He's looking for that one final NCAA Tournament appearance, but he just may not get his team there anytime soon. Both icons -- Chaney and Paterno -- should consider retirement. And soon.

4. John Chaney and the Officials. John Chaney was totally out of line, even if he was right about the screens. There are ways to protest this, but Chaney is being hypocritical. Why? Earlier this year his Owls were leading Joe Scott's Princeton Tigers at Temple by 2 with 15 seconds to go. Princeton drove the length of the floor, and G Will Venable put up a layup off the glass with about 5 seconds to go. Temple swingman Dustin Salisbery batted the ball off the glass, and no goaltending was called. It was the worst non-call of the year, by far, as that's an automatic goal-tending call. Princeton got shafted on the call. Did Chaney give the game back? Did he say that the call was so bad that overtime should have been mandated? No, he didn't. He won the game (and it was his 1,000 game as a coach), and he was all excited. As for Scott? He tore after ref Joe DeMayo after the non-call, but quickly regained his composure to congratulate Coach Chaney and then was gracious in defeat at his post-game press conference. And there is no more fierce a competitor than Joe Scott. Temple just didn't play well enough to win last night, even if the refs had whistled St. Joe's for the bad screens.

My bottom line here is that you have a veteran coach who has lost his patience with his kids, with the refs, and perhaps with the game itself. He is a venerated figure in college basketball and in Philadelphia basketball, and he should exit with that respect intact. Unfortunately, it can take decades to build an outstanding reputation, and only a day or two's worth of bad incidents to taint one's legacy forever.

Hopefully the Temple administrators and Coach Chaney can talk openly on his future and reflect on that point.

Before things get really ugly.


Anonymous said...

Very good blog, and very good post.

You're right about the leniency of Bruno and the A-10. Chaney should have been suspended for the season, and the A-10 should have seen this was a half-hearted attempt by Temple to get out of serious retributions. Actions like this should not be tolerated, especially by a coach.

Chaney knew what he was doing from the start. It was completely premeditated, just as other incidents in the past. I feel the officials should be let go as well for not stopping the situation beforehand, considering Cheney threatened this the day before. And I haven't seen clips from the game yet, but from what I heard and read Ingram should have never gotten to five fouls; he should have been ejected after two. John Bryant's parents should consider suing Temple University for their coach intentionally engaging in this behavior and hurting their son.

Not only the Atlantic-10 but all of college basketball should be tired of Chaney's antics, and Temple was worth their ilk Chaney would be fired immediately for this incident as well as other incidents in the past.

SportsProf said...

Thanks, Expertise, for your kind words.

Some people have e-mailed me arguing for Chaney's dismissal, and it's a very close call. The hue and cry will get worse now that John Bryant has been diagnosed with a broken forearm. Andy Katz at wrote an article today calling for Chaney's dismissal.

At the best, he should be on a "zero tolerance" policy. He's not bigger than the university, and no one should be. That's where any institution gets into trouble, at any level, when someone becomes bigger than the place. Temple helped create this problem, and now they have to solve it.

Unfortunately, I fear the ultimate resolution will be both public and ugly.

Anonymous said...

Not quite Woody Hayes giving a forearm to Charlie Bauman, but pretty close. I hear Bryant has a broken arm.


SportsProf said...

In a way, TIGOBLUE, worse than Woody Hayes' Dick Butkus imitation. Temple has created a bad situation, especially since John Bryant got hurt. If they didn't put Chaney on a zero-tolerance plan, they should have. the A-10 administration wimped out here.

Anonymous said...


SportsProf said...

Thanks for your thoughts. John Chaney did a terrible thing, that's for sure. I'm just not at the point where I want to end his career on this incident. He should be suspended beyond the regular season throughout the playoffs, and then he and Temple should seriously look at a succession plan.

Andrew Knoll said...

Oh please, it was unfortunate that Ingram (who I know, actually, and is a very nice young man) wound up injuring another player but this sort of thing goes on all the time.

Like the Bertuzzi incident in the NHL, people were too quick to look at the result and not the action in the context of the sport.

To say Chaney is a hypocrite for complaining about a call and "not giving back" that game against the Tigers is absurd (no one has ever given back a game, for openers). I know people who have officiated in the Big 5, Public League and the NBA. NO coach does anything less than argue for his side only!

Anyway, John had had about enough coaching at Temple at that point and it wasnt like the Owls were headed to the big dance that year.

I think this was a good way to mar one of the true good guys in college sport's image. Chaney is fiery (ask John Calipari) and demanding (ask his players) but he reaches out to people who need a chance, he mentors his players and he produces very professional and skilled players for the NBA and the European pros.