Syracuse's Jim Boeheim condemned Rutgers coach Mike Rice's abuse of his players Thursday.(Al Tielemans/SI)
The Big East is making up half of this season's Final Four, so there's an obvious connection between the two coaches here and the Mike Rice/Rutgers story that continues to be a national discussion topic. At his press session on Thursday, Boeheim was asked what he thought of the video compilation that showed Rice berating and physically accosting his Rutgers players.
"I watched 10 seconds of the video," Boeheim said. "I couldn't watch it, honestly. I couldn't watch it anymore."
Boeheim said he didn't think coaches acting like Rice is prevalent elsewhere in the game, and he suggested that Rice's out-of-line approach didn't help his players perform anyway.
"The tragedy is his team would have played exactly the same, or better, if he hadn't done any of that," Boeheim said. "If he never threw a ball, never touched anybody, his team would have played, I think, better, in my experience."
Coaching can be an intense vocation. Pressure is high and so are the stakes, especially at the elite level. Division I practices are not a place for the sensitive, but there are lines that simply cannot be crossed. Boeheim admitted some of his own flaws, but said he clearly stops short of anything like what the nation witnessed when the Rutgers tapes were made public.
"I get verbal, I'm on players. I don't like to curse. I do curse sometimes," Boeheim said. "You get out of control and just things come out when you're in the heat of the moment, but you can't touch a player, other than just on the shoulder or something. You certainly can't push them or grab them and you can't throw something at them."
It's not surprising to hear a coach of Boeheim's pedigree disclaim Rice's sordid tactics, but he seemed clearly affected by the incident. Perhaps the words of other regarded coaches along with the backlash from the Rutgers tapes will make others take pause the next time they're angry.