Southern Illinois loves Barry Hinson


It’s been a week now, or almost a week, since Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson entered the all-time viral-coach-rant Hall of Fame. Hinson now exists alongside Denny Green and Jim Mora and many others, and he deserved commendation for bringing his own flavor -- slow-burn exasperation that morphed into wild-eyed disbelief -- to the table. The whole thing was genuinely hilarious. It’s been a long time since I legitimately laughed out loud at something I saw on the Internet, as opposed to just typing it ironically. Thank you, Barry Hinson.

Despite the hilarity, there was a pretty good chance Hinson’s rant would backfire. Before the night was out, Southern Illinois forward Davante Drinkard called Hinson “the little man” on Twitter. Hinson called his players “mama’s boys.” Worse, Hinson name checked an individual player just before insisting that his own wife would shoot better “because I know my wife will at least shot-fake one time.” Funny, yes, but it was also worth asking: What if Hinson totally lost his already-struggling Salukis? What if the rant turned counterproductive?

Six days later, it appears things are just fine. Not only did Southern Illinois win Saturday night, but Hinson was greeted by a standing ovation and “Hinson for President” signs from 4,000 fans in rainy Carbondale, Ill. Naturally, this moved Hinson to further comedy. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“We had 4,000 fans today that showed up. They were unbelievable," Hinson said. “Seriously, they’re building Noah’s ark two blocks from my house. That’s how much it’s rained in the past 24 hours. My two cats were going across the street toward the ark and I was worried before I got to this game, thinking the boat may leave.”

Of course, it’s one thing to earn the love of a frustrated fan base; fans love exasperated coaches, because they’re just like us. It’s another to win back the support and good humor of a team you openly and virally embarrassed. How are the Salukis holding up?

“Jalen definitely didn’t play like a mama’s boy tonight and if that is how a mama’s boy plays then all of us need to be mama’s boys,” joked senior center Davante Drinkard.

“We also learned to shot-fake on a couple and-one’s,” Drinkard kidded.

Oh, and there’s this:

In review: Despite a 3-8 record and an unhinged rant for which he will probably always be most famous, Hinson managed to earn the adoration of his fan base, the attention (and, at least momentarily, cheer) of his previously insulted players and, last but not least, a dedicated t-shirt branding opportunity. The “Mama’s Boy” movement is upon us. True Life: Barry Hinson is popular online.