Thursday, December 11, 2008

Polemics About Tulane

I like correspondence- and two of my regular Wave e-mailers sent me links to an interesting post over at yogwf by an ex-player of the Scelfo regime rehashing long ago events.

Somehow my paraphrased observation that “Scelfo was an average coach doing an average job” has, over time, translated me into being the prior regime’s defender. I wear that hat uneasily- as again I never thought Scelfo did a good job, just okay, under increasingly difficult circumstances.

I have no comment per se on this ex-player’s recitation of events- seems cognizant and rational to me. It is certainly thoughtful. I applaud those unwilling to hide behind anonymity to make difficult points. This isn’t just throwing acid.

So my comments are offered in a similar spirit- not throwing acid, transparent. Plus, it isn’t right to pick a fight if I am responding here, rather than over there. Instead, I offer it in the spirit of Marshall Foch at the Ecole Superieure de la Guerre: De quoi s'agit-il?

I have an axiom that the whole picture can never be captured by either insiders or outsiders. Both play a role: outsiders bring perspective, insiders bring knowledge. As an example, I follow horse racing. One would never hesitate to ask a trainer’s opinion of his horse- he knows the animal and the game- but one would always distrust his forecast as to the horse’s capabilities. He’s close to the situation, perhaps too much invested in the outcome.

Which is why one can write a polemic and infer that the team never bought into Scelfo from the get go, that the team collective were willing to let a lifetime of work and effort, to cut back our effort, etc. go to waste over jejune issues such as: coach was really mean, he yelled, played favorites and wouldn’t let us cut the hair of freshmen.

Indeed, I’m not rolling my eyes at that- adolescent culture can turn on such things. But I will also say that had Scelfo won some more- and really, not much more- mean becomes “tough”, played favorites means “produce or else veterans” and the end of hazing means means “just one team” top to bottom.

Second point- insider versus outsider- is this sense that Scelfo is at fault. Surely, it is a richer tapestry than that: administration, monies, etc. I guarantee if you were to poll 100 hundred neutral sentient observers of Tulane football, not one would say Scelfo’s “unapproachable nature” was a bigger cause for Tulane’s football woes than, say, the BCS cartel absorbing 95+% of the available monies. C’mon, that is just uninformed.

But, insider observation tends toward scapegoating- an “I’m not the one at fault” mentality. Consequently, how about pointing that finger into that locker room as well? A certain responsibility comes with a commitment to play I-A athletics for free. And unlike above, I’m not going to except tardy adolescence as an excuse here: eighteen year olds enlist in the Marine Corps with a sense of the obligations entailed. If there was an effort shortage, then that finger needs to be pointed into the room as well. Maybe some people sulking over the coach’s horrid injustices- I really want to cut hair!- deserved some ire, needed to be told this isn’t high school so “grow up or get out”? To wit- “gotta be professional at both the on field and off field stuff.”

It is a good piece- and woven into the other observations and debate of the Scelfo regime- it is of value. Obviously, we need a post-mortem of the Scelfo regime. But this assessment is several years old now- and I stick by it now.

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