Is it me, or have we reached a point where coaches say whatever the hell comes to their minds after losses? Maybe I’m just having a “get off my lawn!” moment, but growing up, I don’t remember having to listen to coaches make unsupportable complaints every time things didn’t go their way on the field. Here are three examples from the past week:
1. Sir Alex Ferguson ranted about the officiating at Chelsea on Tuesday because the ref had the temerity not to send off David Luiz and then awarded a soft penalty to Chelsea for the winning goal. Of course, Sir Alex was not exactly taking into account the fact that United’s goal was scored by Wayne Rooney, a player who shouldn’t have been anywhere near the pitch after elbowing James McCarthy in the head.
2. After a 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna that left his side seven points behind Barcelona in La Liga, Jose Mourinho complained that the league shows favoritism to Barca by giving them more rest after Champions League games. It turns out that there is no factual basis for the complaint. Mourinho’s act has grown so tiresome that, according to Phil Ball, even Marca is starting to turn on him.
3. Michigan State was swept by Michigan in basketball for the first time in 14 years. So how does Tom Izzo respond after his team lost on Saturday and his star point guard tossed a ball at his opposite number?
“I’ll straighten that (Lucas throwing the ball at Morris) out but at the same time, (Morris) going for a layup with 2 seconds left and talking a lot stuff all game, including at our place, maybe he (Morris) deserved it.”
Yes, Tom, I’m sure that you would have reacted the same way if a hapless Michigan player would have thrown a ball at Mateen Cleaves after you left him in to get an assist record in a 114-63 rout. And I wasn’t aware that you have a rule against players yapping at opponents.
Yes, I know I’ve picked three particular coaches and teams that I dislike and there are probably examples of coaches whom I do like who have made similar complaints, but does anyone else get the sense that there sorts of unjustifiable excuses are more common now? One possibility is that coaches have always made these “we either win or we got screwed” defenses and we only know about them now because they are immediately the subject of blogosphere and message board chatter. In the old days, Izzo’s remarks would have slipped into the ether. Now, they can be dissected by interested fans of rivals within minutes after being made. A second possibility is that in a media-saturated environment, coaches have thinner skin because they are criticized with a volume that did not exist before. A third possibility is that increased attention creates greater possibility for a coach to create an us-versus-them dynamic. This is a Mourinho specialty: say a series of ludicrous things to rile up just about everyone in the league, then feast off the resulting siege mentality.
To use a legal term, I think I’m an egg-shell plaintiff when it comes to patently stupid arguments. Because I take the process of making good arguments very seriously (“not seriously enough,” you’re probably snickering right now), it offends me to see coaches at the tops of their professions throwing out whatever claim comes into their minds. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to start complaining about how ballpark hot dogs don’t taste the same as they did when I was a child.