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Henderson A Necessary Villain? What A Weak Defense Of Poor Behavior

marshall-henderson-coors-lightYou either love him or you hate him.

If you’re an Ole Miss fan or a columnist in need of a topic sure to generate a response, you love him.

If you believe there’s a difference between showing emotion and showing your arse then you probably hate him.

Rebel basketball star Marshall Henderson is the boldest provocateur to hit a college basketball court since… well… uh.  Who else has ever jumped on a scorer’s table at his conference’s tournament, taken a faux joint from his mouth and tossed it to the ground on national television, and snapped his jersey in the faces of opposing players, coaches and fans?  Some might have done one.  Henderson is the guy who’s done all.  And more.

From his shark fin finger gesture after a made trey to his off-court insults — “They’re losers.” – to his on-the-verge-of-a-technical interactions with officials, there’s never been anyone quite so far over the top as Ole Miss’ talented gunner.

When I said over the weekend that I thought Henderson was the most classless player to ever take to the  hardwood, a number of my friends in the media chafed.  Yet when I asked them for the name of any other college basketballer who’s come close to doing as much taunting as Henderson has done I was met with stares.

Followed by a change of subjects.

The shame of it all is that Henderson is a phenomenal basketball player.  His talents and energetic leadership should be the talk of the sporting world rather than his temperament.  And if he showed any remorse at all for the actions that have led him through four schools (and jail) in four years, his would be one of those tried and true sports/redemption stories that we all love to sop up like Southern gravy.  “He’s overcome so much and turned his life around,” we’d coo.

Instead, Henderson just throws his past in everyone’s face as part of his schtick.  Sorry?  Please.  The arrest record is good for his rep, dudes.

But Henderson’s actions aren’t just fodder for water-cooler talk.  They’re capable of inciting a riot.  After rubbing a Friday night victory into the faces of Missouri’s team (and then complaining that the Tiger players weren’t good enough sports to shake his hand), Henderson had this to say:


“People take it so seriously that it’s funny for a little white guy like me to just come around, talk trash to people and the fans.  Like, what are you going to do in the stands?  What am I going to do on the court to you in the stands?  It’s funny just to mess with people.”


Yes, it’s funny right up to the point that some ticked off fan in the crowd — say at Auburn, maybe — fails to reel in his own emotions and storms the court to trade fists with the biggest instigator this side of Woody Woodpecker.  Oh, sure, Henderson would probably just pull a knife from his sock and cut the guy, but no one really wants to see that any more than they want to see fans and players to duke it out on the floor.

There’s a reason that 90% of Ole Miss basketball games feature officials cooling players’ tempers as the final buzzer nears.  Henderson’s mouth and deeds get under the skin of his opponents.  Now maybe that takes them off their game — advantage: Rebels — but at some point maybe that will lead to a postgame donnybrook.  Don’t say you haven’t thought it possible.

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Weis Disappointed In UF’s Offense; Danielson Says Muschamp’s Got Little Talent To Work With

Mired in a four-game losing streak — the program’s longest since 1988 — folks in Florida are wondering who to blame.  On Halloween, Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel — a provocateur on par with Woody Woodpecker — asked Gator fans to blame Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp or Charlie Weis for UF’s many offensive woes.  (The fans who voted saddled the ex-Gator head coach with the blame.)

In Weis’ case, the offensive coordinator was realistic about his team’s chances against Alabama and LSU… it’s the last two games against Auburn and Georgia that have bothered him most:

“I thought the rest of that Alabama game (without an injured John Brantley in the second half) was going to be a bit of a struggle.  And going into LSU I thought that would be a bit of a struggle, especially when young Jacoby (Brissett) was dialed up after he hadn’t had a snap, I thought that would have been a bit of a struggle. … I’m probably most disappointed that in the last two weeks, we didn’t make enough plays on offense to win the last two games.

I think that’s probably my biggest disappointment.  They were two games that you can’t say were mismatched opponents.  That’s the thing I’m discouraged about the most.”

Should he be disappointed?  It doesn’t sound like Gary Danielson believes so.  The CBS analyst just doesn’t think the Florida’s staff or its head coach has a whole heckuva lot of talent at their disposal:

“I believe Will Muschamp is doing about as good as he can.  To me, I really think Will Muschamp has a butter knife, basically a dull butter knife of talent in a league that everybody else has steak and you need a steak knife to win in this league.  He has no chance.  He does not have a team put together to compete at the highest level at this league, especially with an injured quarterback.”

Somewhere, Meyer is muttering, “But they’re loaded, I tells ya.” 

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Memphis Writer Wants Transparency In Whistle-Blowing, But That’s A Real Bad Idea

Ron Higgins of The Memphis Commercial-Appeal misses the good ol’ days.  He liked it when one school’s coach could call out another school publicly.

In his latest column, Higgins uses a few quotes from coaches made during yesterday’s SEC teleconference:

Urban Meyer:  “There’s a lot of time spent on who blew the whistle as opposed to who’s committing the violation.  The issue is the violation.”

Les Miles:  “I wish it weren’t anonymous.  I wish everybody knew everything there was and it was very, very open.  No behind closed doors.  This is what this guy saw.  It’s up front and here you go.  I encourage any coach to turn in another program.  You cannot turn a blind eye to misconduct.  And if you do, then you’re as guilty as the misconduct.”

Steve Spurrier:  “That’s the way I used to do it — when I saw something, I’d tell about anybody who wanted to know.  Now, our league office wants us to call them and let them handle it.”

Higgins wants transparency.  He wants mud to be slung.  He even writes the following: “Seems to me that a little public embarrassment could go a long way toward reducing scandals.”

Unfortunately, Higgins is wrong.  At least on this one.

Here’s why: It’s no longer 1995.  Spurrier could make an accusation a decade ago, 15 years ago, and it wouldn’t make headlines across the planet.  In today’s media world, any accusation carries the potential for devastating consequences.

If I decided to write a post stating that Les Miles has been paying players and I headline that post: “Miles Buying Players At LSU,” it would immediately jump up Google search lists.  Folks all over the web would link to it.  Other media outlets would call, text and Facebook Miles so fast that his hat would spin.  Heading into this weekend’s game with Ole Miss, Miles would have to answer questions about a totally made-up story. 

Allegations are more powerful today than at any point in world history.  For the first time, every allegation can be heard by every person… and then every person can chime in on said allegations.  All at breakneck, internet speeds.

And that’s just one reason SEC whistle-blowing should be handled behind closed doors.  There are others:

* What if a coach — say a real Woody Woodpecker of an instigator like Lane Kiffin — had decided to toss a false allegation toward Urban Meyer before last year’s Tennessee-Florida game?  Think Meyer wouldn’t have had to deal with a pretty big distraction leading up to that game?  All over a dummy charge created by a man who was simply looking for an edge on gameday.

* If coaches across the league started ratting one another out the allegations would top “SportsCenter” on a regular basis.  But what if the allegations were false or had no merit?  Would the media outlets lead their papers and shows with “By The Way, Nothing Was Ever Found At Bama”-type headlines?  Of course not.  The allegation would get more attention than any facts that might or might not turn up later.  The reputation of the league would be damaged by such nonsense.  Even if all the allegations proved to be false, the tattling would influence outsiders’ perception of the SEC.

The old Southwest Conference blew apart at the seams not only due to cheating by member institutions, but by tattling by member institutions.  The battles between schools in the SWC became so dirty and heated that the league eventually pulled its own roof down onto its members’ heads.

Transparency sounds nice, but it’s not always applicable.

Example: I’m not for waterboarding.  I don’t like it.  And I would have liked to have known what our government was up to before the fact.

But does the “transparency” provided by a site like help America’s cause or hurt it?  If I know everything the CIA or US government knows, it might not be in the best interest of our national security.

So while I’d like to know some of what’s going on, it might be best that I not know everything that’s going on.  To put it simply, secrets ain’t always bad.

Had Dwight Eisenhower offered more transparency during World War II, I’m guessing the Normandy invasion wouldn’t have gone off quite so smashingly for the Allies.  (Sidenote — Like Derek Dooley, am I now going to get in trouble for mentioning Normandy?)

The SEC wants tattling handled behind closed doors.  That plan works quite well if the league turns legitimate information over to the NCAA in a timely fashion and if the tattlers keep their mouths shut and don’t leak info to the press.

In the Cam Newton case, the league office claims it turned information over to the NCAA once it became convinced that MSU’s allegations were credible.  Unfortunately, MSU sources began to leak word to the press.  Press = mess, in this case.

There’s a reason the SEC doesn’t want its coaches tossing allegations willy-nilly.  The league’s reputation is as stake.  And if forced to choose between millions of American sports fans believing his league is dirty… and conspiracy theorists who think something fishy might be going on at the league office… Mike Slive would choose to go with the conspiracy theorists.

A league filled with tattling coaches would be bad for the SEC’s reputation and bad for business.

Sidenote — Nick Saban said yesterday that he is comfortable with the way allegations are handled.

“When you sit in these meetings we have with athletic directors and coaches, we’re all trying to get it right.  We’re all trying to do the right things so we can keep the playing field balanced and level for everybody.  But things happen in all professions that shouldn’t happen.  That’s why we have an NCAA.  That’s why we have people investigate circumstances and situations.  I’m comfortable with the way they do it.

“Our focus here is different than some people.  There’s a paranoia in our profession that I think has existed from the beginning of time.  A lot of people in our profession are always looking at what someone else is doing.  One thing I’ve tried to get our guys to do is: Let’s take care of our busines and our business will take care of us.”

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