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Double standard in Hinson rant

12/18/2013

This is either the beginning or the end for Barry Hinson. We’ll know eventually.

By Wednesday morning, his rant following Southern Illinois’ 73-65 loss to Murray State on Tuesday night had already been linked to some of the greatest rants in sports history via a "SportsCenter" Top 10 list.

Hinson completely lost it.

Things got personal too. Hinson criticized guard Marcus Fillyaw, specifically. He claimed his wife would have surpassed his forward's 2-for-11 mark because “I know my wife will at least shot-fake one time.”

And he called his team “uncoachable.”

In a conversation with ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman on Wednesday, Hinson said he regrets naming names but stood by the bulk of his comments.

"I regret one thing -- calling out Marcus' name," Hinson told Goodman. "That wasn't fair to him individually, and I'm upset about that. But I'm not upset about anything else I said."

It helps that athletic director Mario Moccia backed him, even though forward Davante Drinkard tweeted "I can't believe the little man had the nerve to call us mama's boys. Smh. I guess this is where Our team learns to point the finger."

This might evolve into a larger mess for Hinson. His team’s 2-8 start has already been affected by a series of mishaps.

But if his program responds by regrouping and winning, then this viral clip will be heralded as the turning point. The day that everything changed for Southern Illinois basketball. For the better.

And if this thing gets worse -- and it might -- this could be Hinson’s Dennis Green “They are who we thought they were” moment. It could become the clip that airs over and over and over again if he’s ever dismissed in the future.

The court of public opinion -- administrators and team officials too -- often uses moments like this as anchors in its assessment of coaches. Even if Hinson meant well, he has thrust himself into a situation that is guided by a blatant double standard.

I’m not one to support the public bashing of young men. But I chuckled at the presentation just because it’s difficult to avoid laughter when a grown man throws a tantrum and uses his wife as an example in the process.

I hope Hinson recognizes the risk of his decision. Like other coaches in his position, he had reached a breaking point. It’s mid-December. If he can’t get SIU in sync soon, the Salukis will spend another season at the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference (14-17, 6-12 in conference last season).

That’s not the second season Hinson anticipated when he left his post as director of basketball operations at Kansas to return to the Missouri Valley Conference. (Hinson was at Missouri State prior to his stint with Kansas.) He knows something has to change -- fast -- or his job might be in jeopardy.

So he chose to rant. It’s not the first time we’ve seen this motivational ploy. And it won’t be the last.

But the sensitivity surrounding the treatment of young athletes has been elevated since former Rutgers coach Mike Rice was fired for tossing balls at his players and using offensive language in practices.

It’s easy to assume that young athletes are more mature and mentally rigid than their nonathletic peers. That’s not true, though. They feel pain too. They’re embarrassed easily.

Yes, they’re on a big stage. But they can be permanently affected by the “mama’s boys” comments that Hinson used to describe them.

Most coaches don’t reach that point -- in public. But many college basketball practices are rated M for mature. Hinson’s great sin was divulging these perspectives in public.

His other sin was that he’s Barry Hinson. He’s not sitting on a Teflon track record that will protect him if this viral tirade haunts him for the rest of his time at SIU.

Last season, Kansas coach Bill Self ripped his players after a loss to TCU by calling it the worst loss since Dr. Naismith’s Jayhawks squads lost to Topeka YMCA. After another loss to Oklahoma State, he criticized former guard Elijah Johnson by telling reporters “We don’t have a point guard.”

I’m not saying those comments reached the level of Hinson’s. But they were similar. Self named names too.

Kansas got its act together. Johnson played better down the stretch. The tactic worked.

Perhaps this could be the unconventional Kumbaya moment for Hinson and his program.

Or it might be the clip that everyone plays and the first thing every reporter references when “the little man” gets fired.