National Columnist

Mike Rice is a bully and a monster

Mike Rice should never coach young men again.

He can, however, coach grown men. By all means, Mike Rice should go to the NBA. He should fall forward and end up on an NBA coaching staff -- where the players he shoves and berates, the players whose sexuality he questions, the players whose heads he uses as a target when he throws a basketball, have more size and clout than he does.

Because one of them would punch Mike Rice out. And after that, Rice would be fired.

It would be a win-win for everyone. Everyone but Mike Rice, but he's a bully so the hell with Mike Rice. That's a guy who needs to lose, and lose big, and then keep on losing until he shows up at the door of every player he has ever bullied, at Rutgers and before -- and you know this started before -- and apologize personally for the psychological torture he put them through.

Yo, Rice? This isn't war. It's basketball. And you're not a coach.

You're a bully.

Thing is, "bully" sounds like a weak word. The word has been around so long, and used to describe fourth-graders and other children so young, that it doesn't look as bad as it is.

And being a bully is a bad, bad thing. There are worse things, of course, but those things tend to be criminal. What a fourth-grader does on the playground to smaller kids, what Mike Rice did at Rutgers to players under his control, isn't criminal. But it's terrible nonetheless.

Something like this happens, and I lose it on Twitter. I make a few comments about Mike Rice, making it clear exactly how awful a human being I think he is, and people start coming back at me like I've gone too far. Ease up on the testosterone, one reader told me. Settle down, said another. I've been asked, "What happened to you as a kid?"

Nothing happened to me as a kid. I'd tell you if that wasn't the truth. But I do have two sons of my own, and they've not always been treated great by other, bigger kids -- or by a teacher, on one occasion -- and it makes me furious. Irrationally so.

You don't have to be a parent to appreciate the dangers of bullying, but it sure does crystallize things if you are one. Kids who are bullied suffer in school, or drop out. They suffer in life ... or drop out. Kids who are bullied commit suicide. It happens every day.

So when someone like Mike Rice is exposed as a bully as plainly as those tapes released by ESPN exposed him, I'm going to freak out and not feel badly about it. And not just freak out on Mike Rice, but on the athletic director who had an inkling this season about the monster lurking within his basketball program but didn't fire him. Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti suspended Rice for three games, but that was it.

So now I'm wondering why Tim Pernetti has a job.

And every minute that passes and Mike Rice hasn't been fired, I'm wondering why the president at Rutgers has a job. How badly does an employee have to behave at Rutgers -- how awful does he have to mistreat a student -- to lose his job?

That's not a school my kids will go to. Not if that president tolerates an AD who tolerates Mike Rice.

And as for whistle-blowing Eric Murdock, the staff member who said his contract wasn't renewed because he complained about Rice's despicable behavior? I hope Murdock sues the school. I hope he names Rice, names Tim Pernetti, names the president. I hope he wins so much money, he's embarrassed.

As for Mike Rice, I'd like for him to take his violent tendencies to a place where he can actually use them. Walk into a boxing gym. Put on gloves. Step in the ring and spar.

No, wait, I see the flaw in that logic. Step into the ring and spar, and you don't have the untouchable power Mike Rice had at Rutgers. See, in a boxing ring the other guy can hit back.

And Mike Rice strikes me as far too big of a coward to agree to that.

 
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