No way to ignore Drew’s flaws now
April 17, 2012 11:22PM
TAB MUG HUTTON Andy Lavalley/Post-Tribune ptmet
Updated: May 19, 2012 8:21AM
The Answer Man has endured fits of anger, betrayal, denial, exasperation and amazement since the results of the NCAA’s 18-month investigation into Baylor basketball were revealed last week.
Former Valpariso University coach Scott Drew was found guilty of a major infraction by the NCAA for failure to properly monitor his assistants. Those ambitious, unsupervised assistants went on a rule breaking phone call and text messaging binge that exceeded the limit by hundreds. Most of this stuff took place in 2007 and 2008, though the most blatant violation of the NCAA rules occurred in 2010 when former assistant Mark Morefield basically asked two AAU coaches to lie to the NCAA about the investigation being conducted.
Morefield lost his job last summer and Drew was suspended for two games. The Bears also lost a scholarship for a year and Drew and another assistant, Jerome Tang, were banned from making phone calls for two months this season.
The school blamed the problem on compliance, saying texts were sent from a Teleflip, which the coaches believed weren’t texts because that is what a compliance officer told them. The staff also failed to properly log calls, an issue that’s been addressed.
Does the string of excuses sound familiar? Let’s go for a little history lesson. Drew sends out a recruiting brochure with a picture of him, then Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight and then Texas A&M coach Bobby Gillespie on it. The brochure asks which coach has recruited a McDonald’s All-American and red lines are drawn through Knight and Gillespie. The story goes public and Drew admits it was a mistake after Knight privately calls him out on it. It wasn’t illegal, but it wasn’t right.
Still, the Answer Man stood by his man.
Next, Texas coach Rick Barnes complained to the New York Times about Drew hiring Dwon Clifton, the AAU coach for John Wall. It was an obvious play for Wall, who ended up at Kentucky anyway. Still, the Answer Man stood by his man even though Clifton left Baylor after just two seasons.
By this time, Drew was getting pummeled by the national media for his renegade recruiting approach. The backlash was so furious that Drew didn’t even consider overtures from Memphis after Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins wrote a piece that essentially said that Drew was a lousy bench coach, a fake and rule bender when it involved recruiting. Still, the Answer Man stood by his man.
There were two schools of thought on how to digest the methods of Drew, now one of the most disliked coaches by his peers in the profession.
His recruiting style was unorthodox and creative because he had no choice. After the program was nearly shut down in 2003 because of the murder of Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson and the massive fraud and unparalleled disgrace that former coach Dave Bliss brought by trying to portray Dennehy as a drug dealer (just one of many instances of deceit by Bliss), Drew had to push the envelope to revive the program. When he did and when Baylor became successful, the old guard guys, like Knight and Barnes got cranky. They couldn’t stomp Baylor out like a couple of stray ants wandering into the kitchen anymore. They had players.
Still, the Answer Man chose to believe that version of the truth then. He knew Drew had been doing the same stuff at Valparaiso University, bringing in a player named Antonio Falu and his coach from Puerto Rico, William Colon, for part of a season. Falu was billed as the most talented player ever to wear a VU uniform then and Colon was there to baby sit and help snag some players down the road. The whole deal blew up one night in December when Homer Drew kicked him off the team after Falu defied his orders in a game at Chicago State. Falu was too much of a diva for Homer. Colon was gone by the end of the year. Nobody cared because it was VU.
Last fall, the Answer Man had to re-evaluate his position on Drew when foxsports.com broke the news of the multiple illegal texts that Morefield sent to Hanna Perea’s AAU and high school coaches.
The Answer Man has three categories for college basketball coaches — those beyond reproach when recruiting players who have never sniffed a major violation, those that are blatant outright cheaters, and those that willfully ignore their rule breaking assistants.
It’s just not good enough for a coach to say he didn’t know his top couple of assistants were going crazy with the phone calls and text messages. Regretfully, Drew falls into the third category for the Answer Man. It got even worse for Drew during the NCAA Tournament when DJ Cooper, a star guard for Ohio, accused him of trying to recruit him when he was in school. Drew denied the allegation. No doubt the NCAA will be asking for Cooper’s cell phone records to try to verify his story.
The Answer Man had high hopes for Drew, thinking maybe he could end up at one of the top programs in the country someday. That won’t happen. He’ll have to make the Final Four at Baylor. The word is out on Drew and it’s hard for even his most adamant supporters to suppress the shadiness that is wafting over the program. Plus, in a small way, Drew should feel complicit in bringing down Morefield’s career. Despite all the negativity, the kids don’t seem to care much. Drew snagged the No. 5 recruiting class this year, according to ESPN. The Answer Man would like to believe Drew could’ve still done well without breaking rules.
He’ll never know now for sure.
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