Hey! You! Remember me?
Just last night, some pretty in-the-know guys (Happy Hour Guys to be exact) poured me a few then hit me with this: Come Back. We Miss You. The Craft Beer World Misses you and your voice and your snarky snarkisms. You have legit content and we want more.
So.......here I am running my hands across the smooth surface of my little bully pulpit here, my platform, my blog. And boy oh boy do I have something I need to get right off my chest.
Unless you are a serious cave dweller, you know that I am proud alum of the University of Louisville. As is Mr. Wench. As is Grandma Wench. As is Cousin Wench and many many many friends, including one of my bests: "Ginger."
I lived a lot of years in the minority as do most Louisville fans in the Big Blue State of Kentucky. But that's ok. Friendly rivalries are good for the soul.
Together, we presided over an exciting basketball year in 2013, did we not, dear sweet and wonderful Ann Arborites? It was a good year, good tournament, great final game and yes, it ended the way I wanted it to, bad call or no bad call.
I have both dished out and slurped up my fair share of smack talk here in A2 during that time and since then. All in the name of friendly, sports rivalries.
Players are caught drinking, in car accidents, accused of rape only to have it brushed off in the name of "the program." Players sell signed trinkets and get cars and money and other....stuff from alumni groups. All of these activities go on, daily, at the very highest levels of college sports, which, if we really stop and think about it, is sort of a sick statement about what we find important. Win. At all costs. Bend a few rules, cover it up, let off a few fireworks, win tournaments and national championships. It's all worth it.
In the past week, it has been revealed that a member of the University of Louisville basketball coaching staff allegedly arranged for "welcoming committees" for incoming recruits that were at best highly inappropriate and at worst, illegal. Basically, it's said that Andre Mcgee hired hookers. He got guys laid. And for reasons that, honestly, boggle the imagination since for the most part, Louisville is not exactly begging for great players. Why in god's name would getting them a private lap dance be required, much less expected?
As you might imagine, Your Poor Wench's phone was lighting UP with my fellow A2 based sports fans eager to fill me in on this mess. And I'll admit, my first reaction was "make it a one day story." I learned that from a book I recently read about how to handle potential scandal and how not to.
It's probably exaggerated nonsense. I thought.
It will go away because it's a non-story. I believed.
Thanks to the honest look at the book that was published by the woman who ALLEGEDLY let Andre McGee pay her and her daughters for private hookups with recruits by unapologetic Cards fan Eric Crawford (read this. seriously.) I got kind of all indignant. I mean, she took money for this and pimped out her young daughters. But then I decided that job-shaming someone was NOT the best attitude for me to take. And so I waited some more, hoping (praying, pleading with the universe and Tom Jurich) that this was nothing.
I am here to tell you, that there is something. It is bad. It is unacceptable. It is embarrassing, yes but it is not something I want my alma mater in any way affiliated with. However, it is NOT the following:
1. About the safety of women on the Louisville campus
2. Reflective of how "safe" women feel on the Louisville campus
3. To be skewed to make the entire athletic department look like the "bad part of town at night" where all manner of horrors might befall the innocent ladies now "sitting ducks" at least according to Kathy Redmond Brown and Sports Illustrated.
I call foul. I mean serious RED CARD (to mix my sports metaphors).
This is not journalism or anything but pure sensationalism. Taking a shitty situation filled with a bunch of dudes thinkin' with their Little Elvises first and making Extremely Poor Decisions and keeping it from their head coach (one hopes, the jury is still out on that) and turning it into some utterly ridiculous rant about how "Louisville Created and Nurtured a Dangerous Environment for Women" is irresponsible. And it's pissing me off. As is this is "my blog" I'm gonna go off a bit.
I REFUSE to allow that to be said, in some kind of sweeping generalization, about the culture at U of L or any college campus. I REFUSE to let the focus move away from the REAL PROBLEM (the over importance we all put on winning at all costs, getting the best recruits possible, making sure they pass their classes so they can play and the over weening egos involved at most every level of this at most every school with anything resembling a serious D1 program of any kind).
Louisville Cardinal basketball has been brought low. And frankly, it deserves to be. I will not argue with anything the NCAA decides as long as it it doled out fairly and I hear the details of how one school is being penalized for cheating at school and more explanations about how another got to keep all their titles even the ones won during the pedophilia era.
If I may, I want to relate one more perspective. I spent four and a half years at the University of Louisville. Two of those years I was a resident assistant (RA) in a dorm that was one of the few co-ed ones that also housed.....male basketball players. One floor above mine as a matter of fact. The only "culture" that I was aware of was one of:
1. Hard work.
2. Early mornings
3. More hard work
4. Decided non-priveledge.
Now, of course, the athletes have a different life. They have their own, now well-known exclusive living arrangement (Mindardi Hall, supposed site of several of the paid assignations). It's a different world than it was in .... oh....say....around 1986.
Or, maybe not.
Listen, I get that I might be a skosh subjective here. I am a HUGE (I mean gigantic, rabid, and by any measure sincere) fan of my Cardinals. I am NOT a fan of Bobby Petrino and am on record saying as much. I find it supremely challenging this year, cheering for the young men playing the game they love, for a school that offered them the chance to do that, even if it's "for" a man who is, in the Wench's humble opinion, a shit cake of a human being. I cheer for the players. Period. And I'm sympathetic to the argument that Tom Jurich made a Big Time Grievous Error letting that man back into our fold.
But, it does not in any way justify the unbelievable leap of trigger-topic craziness from a periodical that makes the bulk of its money off a swimsuit issue (which, for the record I have no problem with as long as they don't preach to me about "sitting ducks" and "girl safety" on the campus of the University of Louisville). Ms. Redmon Brown visited my college's campus once. She did not have a good experience with her particular message. I'm sincerely sorry that happened.
But COME ON, SI, I have never been more disappointed in the ongoing degradation of "journalism" than I am, at you. Today. Turning this into some kind of argument about the wrong thing just to allow the wrong argument into the room? Shame on you. I'm done defending you for this:
I think what happened is Bad. I think that there are a shit ton of major D1 programs locking down their "welcoming committee" details, right about now. I think that just booting out the entire coaching staff (unless we can convince Charlie Strong to give up the hopeless Texas Experiment) is not the answer. "Cleaning house" is not "cleaning house." It's walking away from a problem. And what I know about the Louisville Cardinals is that they will own up to it and fix the problem instead.
This is not me defending what they did. This is me, not allowing a major sports outlet to turn it into something that it is most definitely NOT.
Fun fact: Tom Jurich's daughters both attended the University of Louisville.
Shew. I need a drink. You?
Go Blue on this the first Jim Harbaugh homecoming weekend!