Young coaches crossing Wallace’s line between right and wrong
AT the retirement bash after Riley Wallace's final home game, KFVE's video wizards treated us to a highlight reel of Riley's greatest hits. All the most irate freakouts, the hardest stomps, all that stuff. And yes, coat throwing, too. Wow, it was wonderful. It was great fun. That was great stuff. I would go so far as to call it the feel-good video of the year.
Well, maybe it's nostalgia. Maybe when a guy is going off into the sunset that stuff takes on a different tone. Wallace will be the first to tell you he received a lot of complaints over the years for his intense coaching style. But in the end, the people in the Stan Sheriff Center that night saw it as endearing.
Maybe we tend to look at things a little differently when stuff like this comes from other teams, from an opposing coach. Maybe. Maybe it just seems worse now.
But there's been nothing feel good about that kind of stuff this Western Athletic Conference men's basketball season.
Go ahead. Google "Mark Fox" "police report." I'll wait.
Yeah, ugly no? Nevada's Fox in particular -- in only his third season as a head coach -- has seemed to think he's entitled to conduct himself like a raging bull elephant whenever he feels the urge. And there's been nothing feel good about it. It's just been ugly, that's all.
And there was New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus, who had his own "hold me back" moment in the WAC tournament. (Officially, the story is Theus just really, really, really wanted to run out there to check on one of his own injured players. Yeah, that's the ticket.)
But it's Fox who seems this year to have gone beyond "intense," to have gone beyond "emotional," to ...
"... His behavior which amounted to a criminal level," an NMSU campus police officer wrote in an official report after the officer had come between Fox and the referees following a WAC tournament game that Nevada lost to Utah State.
According to the reports, it was a meeting between police and WAC commissioner Karl Benson that kept Fox from being arrested and charged.
Does the guy have an anger-management problem? It would seem so -- except Fox had a successful career as an assistant, which tells you he can control himself when he feels that he needs to. Which gives the impression that he's feeling his oats as the head coach of the WAC's best team. (For example, will we see any of that intimidation stuff in the NCAA Tournament today? No, because he knows the big boys wouldn't put up with that nonsense for a second.)
Hopefully, this stuff stops next season. Not only because it's bad for the league, bad for the kids, feels bad in the gut -- but because, if a guy feels bulletproof enough to get into it with cops, well, let's just say I hear pepper spray really stings.