The most important thing that you have to keep in mind here is that a young man, Patrick Dennehy, is dead. Since the official autopsy says he was shot twice in the head, it is reasonable to assume that he did not die of natural causes or some horrible accident. Whether Patrick Dennehy was a saint or a demon is unimportant at this time; he was a young man, and he is dead, and his death almost assuredly came at the hands of some other person. All of that is tragic; we can and ought to be sorry it happened. Now as for the rest of the hominids who are involved in this situation, I’m looking for a hero and I can’t find one. I suspect that all of them are about to reveal themselves as sorry excuses for bipeds.
I’ll withhold final judgment on Carleton Dodson – Dennehy’s teammate who is the prime suspect as the murderer at the moment – and Dodson’s estranged girlfriend/wife/significant other/insignificant other. It appears at this time as though the judicial system in the US will expose for us the fundamental goodness or absence of goodness in these folks; we can make the final judgment then. But at the moment, I will say confidently that neither of them would be high on my list of babysitters to phone if my children were still of the age where they needed babysitters.
I’ll withhold final judgment on Dennehy’s former girlfriend. In a trial situation, she too will probably be held up for sufficient examination for us to make a final decision. At the moment, I’m predisposed not to like her a lot because of her comments after the autopsy. There were no drugs found in Dennehy’s body at the time of his death; and when that was revealed, the girlfriend felt that it was vitally important for her to issue a statement saying that she was not surprised by this result. Excuse me, but your boyfriend is dead – probably murdered – and no one asked you if you were surprised or not. In fact, I’ll wager that all but a handful of the entirety of the human population on the planet do not give a damn about whether or not you were surprised. Until you are required to say something about all of this – and that will likely be under oath – please spare us the need to hear any words from your font of wisdom. By the way, if you’re so damned smart and omniscient, how come you did not warn him away from this tragic situation?
I’m no longer withholding judgment on Dennehy’s stepfather. Sir, I understand that you are shaken by this loss and that you bear a huge burden of grief. That’s why I’ll not choose to skewer you for your words – or even for your motives. But I do not think that it is critical for you to be holding press conferences or going on ESPN’s Outside the Lines or giving interviews to anyone at this point. This is about the death of your stepson and not about you or what you think about anything. Now if you can produce incontrovertible proof as to the identity or identities of the killer(s) of your stepson, by all means take it to the authorities and tell the world about it. [By the way, if you can do that, you might want to call up OJ Simpson and offer him your services; he’s out trying to do the same thing, you know.] Until and unless you have something of that magnitude to tell the world, please go and grieve privately. We’ve heard your expressions of feelings and emotions and your perceptions of what happened. We don’t need to hear anymore. You are unlikely to garner any lasting fame or notoriety from all of this – unless you are the killer…
I will not reserve any judgment on Dave Bliss. I have to admit that I never thought that I would be alive long enough to say that Jerry Tarkanian needs to haul his ass out of the bull’s eye that is reserved for the lightening bolt that I want to hit the all of the sleazy coaches in collegiate athletics. Until last weekend, Tark had been in that spot so long that I thought his feet would have taken root in the bull’s eye. Tark is antediluvian pond slime; Dave Bliss would need about a billion years to evolve up the biological ladder to reach that lofty status.
I said in one of my daily rants that Bliss had been skating on the edge of NCAA rules and regulations in previous stops – particularly at SMU. In the aftermath of this tragedy as questions are raised about NCAA violations in his program, Dave Bliss sets a course to defame the memory of the kid he recruited with the sole purpose of covering up his witting accession to a scheme to get Patrick Dennehy on scholarship at Baylor in a “less than traditional way.” He was willing not only to speak evil of the dead but also to speak falsely of the dead; his motive was to save his sorry ass. For that he was fired. For that, I think he got off easy. I think he ought to be made to serve the rest of his days as a live model in a proctology school. And just to assure that he might not come to enjoy it too much, students should have the option at all times to use a cattle prod instead of the “silver stallion” that is routinely stored in the freezer.
If you read these rants, you have to realize that I think Dr. Myles Brand is as useful as a glass hammer. But everything is relative and I will be happy to testify that Dr. Brand is saint walking among us compared to Dave Bliss. I am now calling on Dr. Brand to use this event as a wedge to create an NCAA rule – consistent with US laws of course – that will bar Dave Bliss from ever working with any school of higher learning in any capacity related to coaching or athletics. And that rule should be expanded to cover other coaching offenses that are necessarily far less egregious than Bliss’. If anything good is to come of this barbarous behavior, maybe it will be in the realm where coaches will be accountable with their careers for outrageous behaviors. Come on, Dr. Brand. You said that it was time for the university presidents [You were one, remember!] to take control of these rogue athletic programs. Here is something that makes a normal run-of-the-mill rogue athletic program look like a complaint against someone for not curbing their dog. Do something – anything!
However, I think there is a special ring of Hell reserved for the assistant coach at Baylor who surreptitiously recorded all of the meetings and comments of Dave Bliss and then found a way to get them to at least one major Texas newspaper. Now hear this!!! Nothing that follows here is intended to exonerate Dave Bliss; he is a monstrous example of a coach and mentor of young men; he deserves the painful and longstanding punishment I suggested above. But this assistant coach – who is sufficiently unknown that I will not add to his “fame” by calling his name here – is a truly contemptible life form. Don’t be surprised if other media outlets try to lionize him and make him out to be the hero in this; they tend not to think beyond the first level of any incident.
Assistant Coach Whomever is credited with having these tape recorded records of Bliss’ meetings with his staff where Bliss suggests that they paint Dennehy as a drug dealer so that the NCAA won’t find out that Dennehy was having his tuition paid for in a “less than orthodox manner”. And then there was to be stonewalling and deflection of the investigation on other fronts. Interviews with the authorities were to be “scripted” for coaches and players. This is all horrible. I don’t recall anything done or said by Richard Nixon that was as crass as this; granted the stakes were higher and the standards ought to have been higher for Nixon, but Bliss’ remarks are off the charts. To try to conjure up something so far off base, I can only imagine what would be on the tape recordings if we had them from Adolf Hitler’s staff meetings.
But before you give Assistant Coach Whomever a pass, please ask yourself why he thought it necessary to covertly record all of these meetings of the coaching staff. [Please note that I am assuming that they are genuine and not something forged after the fact.] I can think of three reasons and none of them make Assistant Coach Whomever into a person worthy of protection under the umbrella of “human rights”.
He was out to cover his ass for his involvement in a series of less than honorable and clearly improper actions that led to the death of Patrick Dennehy. Translation: He was ready to demonstrate his concept of teamwork by having the goods on anyone and everyone else in the room so that he could save his ass if this ever came to a head.
He knew that all of this would blow up and he wanted to look like the good guy in the bunch so that he could get another job in a Division 1 basketball program. Translation: I’ll get mine; everyone else can worry about getting theirs after I get mine.
He was out to “get” Dave Bliss. Translation: For better or worse, Dave Bliss is the guy who hired him and instead of resigning and leaving the program to fend for itself, Assistant Coach Whomever wanted a way to get the goods on his boss.
It is unlikely that Assistant Coach Whomever will be banned from coaching in the NCAA ever again; in fact, he might actually be able to pull off his grandstand play to try to make himself out to be the hero in all of this. But tell the truth, would you hire this guy to work for you and to hold a position of trust and responsibility in an organization for which you are ultimately responsible. Hell, I would not trust him to sell lemonade at a roadside stand for 15 cents a glass.
Let me reiterate. Feel remorse for the death of a young man. Defer judgment on his friends and associates until we learn from sworn testimony what kind of people they are. Ignore the stepfather who looks all too eager to stay far too long in the limelight generated by his stepson’s death. Urge Myles Brand to make something good and lasting to come of all of this. Heap scorn and abuse upon Dave Bliss. And do not be fooled into believing that Assistant Coach Whomever is a good and noble man whose actions saved the day. Assistant Coach Whomever is as dependable as the French Army on the eve of battle.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………