Blog Entry

The guy paid a player, for crying out loud!

Posted on: April 22, 2010 7:16 am

You guys sure do like to defend former Ohio State coach Jim O'Brien.

If nothing else, I've learned that.

I knew Wednesday's column would create a reaction, and I knew some wouldn't like what I wrote. But I honestly didn't expect the column to create the type of reaction it created or generate the kind of emails it's generated, and I never knew so many of you have a soft place in your heart for a man who -- try to follow me here -- once violated NCAA rules by giving a prospect $6,000.

Seriously, has the world gone crazy?

Some of the same emailers who routinely kill Tim Floyd and John Calipari took the time to defend O'Brien. And please stop with the "at least he admitted it" and "at least he told the truth" stuff because O'Brien didn't "admit" what he did any more than Tiger Woods admitted to affairs.

Yes, they both eventually admitted their shortcomings.

But do you know when that happened?

After they were caught!

Woods admitted he was a serial cheater when it was unavoidable, which is to say right after the world learned he was a serial cheater. O'Brien's moment of full disclosure is similar. Remember, he gave the prospect $6,000 in 1998 and didn't "admit it" until 2004, and he only admitted it in 2004 because he knew it was about to be made public in a pending lawsuit. So I don't understand why O'Brien gets credit for admitting anything. At best, he owned up to a blatant violation of NCAA rules after he was caught.

And it was a blatant violation.

I can't stress that enough.

As you probably know, coaches aren't allowed to pay prospects or players, even ones whose families are struggling. Do you know what would happen if Thad Matta came out tomorrow and admitted he gave some kid $6,000 because the kid's mother was battling cancer and they needed cash to put food on the table? He'd be fired, that's what would happen (although Ohio State would probably be a little more careful about how it went about the firing, lest the athletic department end up in another wrongful termination lawsuit).

So that's that.

And, no, it doesn't mean Jim O'Brien is the dirtiest coach ever.

I honestly don't think he'd make the top 25.

I never said he would.

But an argument of "there are dirtier coaches coaching right now" isn't much of an argument unless you'd listen to some imprisoned burglar tell you how there are worse burglars running the streets right now. I mean, obviously that's true. There are burglars running the streets, murderers, too. But the ones who get caught go to prison and pay a price, and Jim O'Brien is a man who was caught -- one more time, just to let it sink in -- paying a prospect in what amounted to a pretty reckless and clear violation of what is commonly viewed as the most significant NCAA rule.

You can't pay a player.

Or at least you can't get caught paying a player.

But Jim O'Brien got caught paying a player; that's the truth. And anything beside that central point is mostly irrelevant to my central point, that a Big East program like Rutgers scrapping for respect shouldn't consider hiring a man with that kind of baggage on his resume.
Category: NCAAB

Since: Dec 4, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 3:52 pm

Gary Parrish, Sit Down

I don't come on here and routinely kill anybody.  My point was that you guys here on CBSSports routinely extol the great recruiting skills of certain coaches, including Calipari, who is a confirmed cheater as evidenced at two different schools.  He is the only one I have ever mentioned by name, and I think my comments regarding him have merit.  If it's ok for UK to go after Calipari and pay him the moon, why can't Rutgers, a program that is in a shambles, get a real coach instead of the bonehead masquerading as coach for the last four years.  O'Brien did take OSU to the final four, someplace they hadn't been in years, including under Gary Williams.  So the guy can coach.  Nonetheless, what they SHOULD have done is fired Hill earlier, taken the hit and hired Fran Mc Caffrey from Siena before Iowa got him. Given that he is gone, there aren't many good choices left at this stage of the game.   

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: April 22, 2010 2:03 pm

The guy paid a player, for crying out loud!

Two things...

First, Aleksandar Radojevic had been deemed ineligible by the NCAA after he signed in 1997 because he accepted money to play basketball in Serbia in 1996.  O'Brien was fighting with the NCAA to try to get eligibility restored, but he knew he was fighting a losing battle.  O'Brien gave the kid money after the kid had been declared ineligible.  Personally, I think what went on with Boban Savovic (I think J O'B was involved in that) was worse than what Obie did with Radojevic.

And second, when O'Brien was terminated, the NCAA came down and said that O'Brien could not (essentially) coach college basketball for five years.  It's beyond that limit.  The guy paid his dues, served his sentence, or whatever you want to say.

I, however, would not want to hire the guy based on what he said after he took OSU to the Final Four.  He said something like "If you want this to be a common occurrence, you need to become a Duke fan."  In other words, he did not have the desire to go out and recruit the kinds of players who would be able to take you to the top.  Instead, he looks for projects. If they work out and develop into a good team, so be it.  He's a really good bench coach, but he's not going to recruit very well.  If that's what Rutgers wants, good for them.  I'd take Thad Matta over Jim O'Brien any day.

Since: Dec 15, 2009
Posted on: April 22, 2010 1:50 pm

I think you are leaving some details out

For example, the NCAA said it wasn't a violation.

According to O'Brien, and others, the payment was made after it was determined that the player could not play for them as he was already a Pro.

Those two issues are pretty big. Now maybe the second one is a lie, but the first one is not. And for someone who makes teh point that Slick Cal is ok as the NCAA have not attached anything to him, then it seems strange you would leave that part out.

Now, did he run a program that had violations? Sure. As has almost every top final four coach.

But you seem to have it in for this guy as you gloss over the booster violations (which cost a final four banner) and instead are focusing on a matter that the NCAA have said was NOT a violation.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 1:15 pm

The guy paid a player, for crying out loud!

The only thing Jimmy is guilty of is that he got caughtReally, so somebody who doesn't get caught isn't guilty?  Hey, I guess if you're not cheating, you're not trying.  Sad, sad statement.

Since: Jan 17, 2010
Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:41 pm

The guy paid a player, for crying out loud!

yo your a hypocrite Gary, because if you were in that situation you would do the same damn thing. Also the coaches that you routinely
praise and hump in your media pieces are the same coaches that do the same damn thing. The only thing Jimmy is guilty of is that he got caught, you aint nothing but a fake-n-bake tanned hypocrtie. now go focus on USC and how they paid reggie bush and oj mayo.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 8:30 am

The guy paid a player, for crying out loud!

The thing I loved was your article was primarily one of can't Rutgers do better and it devolved into a debate of everybody deserving a second chance in this country.  Maybe O'Brien does deserve a second chance, but CAN'T RUTGERS FIND SOMEBODY BETTER?

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