Wednesday, November 08, 2006

TRAGIC MURDER, SKIP A BOWL

A college kid dies. A campus is in mourning. And what do you do? Use it to rip a program. (HT: Greg Cote)

Now, you'll find no one who more believes that Miami shouldn't go to a bowl game than I do. Not necessarily because of the brawl, but because of their reaction to the brawl and because Miami is playing terrible football right now.

But let's actually dissect Mr. Celizic's column a bit, and witness what happens when you decide, "Eh, logic is waaay overrated."

Some free advice for University of Miami president Donna Shalala: This time, look at the tapes.
And while she’s looking, Shalala should declare a moratorium on postseason football this season at the very minimum. This is not a team that should be thinking about bowl games. It is a team that should be thinking about what’s important.
Things like life itself.

Okay, that's a little melodramatic, but obviously Mr. Celizic is going to make a concerted effort to tie the death to Miami's culture of corruption -- even if the move is ill-advised, right?

That shouldn’t be hard in the wake of the shooting death of defensive end Bryan Pata on Tuesday. Few details are known about why he was murdered or whether the tragedy is in any way related to any of the other troubles to befall the Hurricanes’ football program this year. Nor is there anything to link it to the historic image of Miami football as a haven for thugs, the tickets of admission to which are arrogance and attitude.
It's too bad that's even considered, because by all accounts, Pata was a popular player on campus who was murdered at his apartment. He's described as a great kid, a "guidance counselor" to other players on the football team. He's no thug.

But why not slur him by tying him to all of those other things? Sort of like saying, "Yes, Joe is friends with a lot of wife-beaters. But, by everything I've heard, he's a nice husband. Now, back to what his wife-beating friends do."

But there is no question that the institution needs to take a very long, very hard look at where it came from, where it is and where it hopes to go. ...
Then, during the season, the ugly and inexcusable brawl against Florida International on Oct. 14 was dismissed with little more than a “boys will be boys” by Shalala. Lamar Thomas, a former player and analyst on local broadcasts, did get fired for his on-air comments in support of back-alley beatings, but Shalala didn’t see Thomas’ attitude as one endemic to the program. But, then, she didn’t look.
She can’t let Pata’s murder pass with the same non-reaction. ...

Why? What in the world cries out for a Shalala response to Pata's horrible death? Why does this make it more or less important for Miami to forego a bowl game? Don't bother Mr. Celizic with facts -- he's on a roll.

And so, unfortunately, Pata's murder will be lumped in with these other incidents, because the school's football program already has a negative image. If it happened at Ohio State, we’d be shocked. But at Miami, a lot of people will say it’s not even a surprise: When you recruit thugs, such things happen. ...

Again, not saying that Pata was a thug. But he was killed at a school that likes thugs. And when there are thugs around, "such things happen." But he wasn't a thug or anything.

If Pata’s death is to mean anything, it is up to Shalala to make it so. No one else has the power to do so. No one else has more incentive.

And no one has a reason why it should be so. Not even Mr. Celizic.

But, hey, if you're hard-up for a column, why not just casually use a tragic murder to make a completely unrelated point? It's not like you have to deal with the aftermath or anything.

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