Blog Entry

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

Posted on: December 11, 2011 2:29 pm

What happened Saturday between Cincinnati and Xavier was disgusting, and it deserves words along those lines. Words of disgust and revulsion, heavy-handed words about the need for suspensions or expulsions after players from both teams brawled so badly that officials simply called off the game with time left on the clock. It was either that, or eject almost everybody and call it a forfeit on both sides. Which wouldn't have been a bad idea, come to think of it ...

But anyway, those are not the words I'm writing today. Other people have written those words, and they are fine words, but not me. Not here. Not today.

Because what happened Saturday after Cincinnati and Xavier brawled was beautiful, and it deserves words along those lines. Words of wonder and passion, high-minded words about the need for self-improvement and self-respect. In fact, it deserves words I'm not capable of writing, because nothing I write here -- with hours to think, edit, arrange -- can compare to the 12 minutes of words that flew out of Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin in the aftermath of the ugliest afternoon of his coaching career.

From here on out, you're going to read more from Mick Cronin than you're going to read from me, because I can't top what he said after the game Saturday. Maybe I can add some context here and there, and I'll try, but starting now the floor goes to Cronin, who sat down behind the microphones on Saturday and volunteered the following about what he had just witnessed:

"There is no excuse for that in basketball," Cronin said. "You've got to learn how to win on one side, you've got to learn how to lose on the other side. All these kids all need to realize they are here to get an education ...

"These guys, very few of them are ever going to make a dollar playing basketball. They are here to get an education at two great universities and they need to appreciate that. The world doesn't revolve around them, around basketball. They need to learn how to act -- they need to have respect for the fact they are on a scholarship, that people come to see them play."

From here, let me say that these are not words I would have expected to hear from Cronin. The first time we "met," it was a phone call in 2005 from Cronin after I had written something about his team at Murray State. I believe the word I used that set Cronin off was "renegade," a reference to any program that would allow Keith Jenifer to dress out. Cronin objected to the word. Maybe I was wrong in 2005. Maybe I was right, and Cronin has changed since then. I don't know, and I don't care. Today I'm marveling at Mick Cronin's reaction to Saturday's fight. More from him:

"Too much glorification of all of sports in our society," Cronin said. "The fact is, guys are here to get an education. They represent institutions of higher learning. Xavier has been a great school for years. We are trying to cure cancer at Cincinnati. I go to school at a place where they discovered the vaccine for polio and created Benadryl. I think that's more important than who wins a basketball game."

Notice how Cronin mentions both teams, both schools, because he was speaking not just as a coach, but as a human being. The coach in him was horrified at what his own players had done, but the human being in him was distraught about the actions of both teams. He made it a point not to lay the blame on Xavier, noting that players on both teams had been talking all game. Who said what, and when? Why did it escalate? Cronin wasn't worried about that. More from him:

"If my players don't act the right way, they will never play another game at Cincinnati," Cronin said. "Right now, I just told my guys, 'I will meet with my AD and my president and I'm going to decide who is on the team going forward.' I've never been this embarrassed. I'm hoping [UC] President [Gregory] Williams doesn't ask me to resign after that.

"I made everybody take their jersey off -- and they will not put it on again until they have a full understanding of where they go to school and what the university stands for and how lucky they are to even be there, let alone have a scholarship, because there's a whole lot of kids that can't pay for college and don't get to go to school. My mom didn't get to go to UC. She grew up on campus, [but] they couldn't afford it."

At this point, a media member asked Cronin if he'd literally made his players take off their jerseys. More from him:

"Absolutely -- they are all sitting in there with no jersey on," Cronin said. "Some of them I physically took them off. That whole scene, it's embarrassing. To be a part of that? Are you kidding me? It's a complete embarrassment. No matter who started what. Just the whole thing, it's a complete embarrassment."

Cronin's team had just lost 76-53, which was the score when officials called off the game. More from him:

"We talk all the time: Toughness is doing the right thing in life. That is what we talk about. If that is the case, [if] you are being provoked, this or that -- true toughness, you walk away from it. You take your ass-whipping and you go home."

Cronin then brought up something he'd seen on television in recent weeks, a segment on 60 Minutes about the rising number of homeless in Central Florida.

"Guys, there's thousands of people in our country -- watch 60 Minutes -- that's homeless. You are not that important. None of us. Have some class. Represent your university, and I am talking about everybody involved. Let's be honest, guys, come on. It's a basketball game.

"Represent our university. That is what I was hired to do six years ago. That's what will happen as long as I'm the coach. Whether we have five guys on the team on Monday or 10 or 13. There is enough guys out there that would appreciate the scholarship. I don't care how good you are."

Some tougher follow-up from Cronin would have been nice. It's one thing to talk tough, and it's something else to be tough. Cronin suspended his best two big men, Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj, for six games after Gates sucker-punched Xavier's Kenny Frease, and Mbodj appeared to stomp on him. Cronin also suspended Octavius Ellis for six games, and Ge'Lawn Guyn for one.

Tough enough? Matter of opinion. Gates and Mbodj could have been kicked off the team, but I'm in no mood to second-guess Cronin. Not after what he said Saturday. Some will say -- based on the relatively short suspensions for Gates and Mbodj -- that Cronin was speaking empty words on Saturday.

Me, I'd disagree. Empty words? Those words were chock-full of outrage and perspective. They were words every coach in the country should show his players this week. Lord knows most coaches would never say those words themselves. Since when has a Division I coach ever said, "The world doesn't revolve around basketball," or, "You [players] are not that important"?

Cronin finished Saturday's speech with a flourish.

"That whole scene is just an embarrassment," he said. "Guys think they are way too important in the scope of what is going on in the world. It's not professional sports. Thanks guys."

Cronin got up and left. The video of the press conference ends there, but not before you can hear the final sound: Applause from those in attendance.


Since: Jun 15, 2010
Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:11 am

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all


Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: December 11, 2011 10:36 pm

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

Um, Jonas Saulk discovered the cure for polio at The Univerisity of Pittsburgh
You are correct. Jonas Salk discovered the Salk Vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh.

But, The University of Cincinnati also had a researcher at the same time trying to find an effective vaccine for polio. His name was Dr Albert Sabin. Sabin was trying to beat Salk in the discovery of a polio vaccine. Salk won the race but Sabin continued his research and created the Sabin Oral Vaccine about two or three years after the Salk vaccine was introduced.

The Sabin Oral Vaccine was developed by testing it in places like Japan and Mexico where there were polio epidemics. It was also tested in Cincinnati and found to be effective and easier to administer.

The polio virus multiplies in the intestines and then is absorbed into the bloodstream where it attacks the body. Sabin's vaccine worked in the intestines to block the virus from infecting the blood stream. Salk's vaccine didn't stop the virus from infecting the intestines, but prevented the symptoms and complications caused by the virus.

Because of the different ways the vaccines work, Sabin's was more effective in polio epidemic areas because it prevented the spread of the virus from person to person, but didn't mitigate the complications on one already infected. Salk's vaccine was effective in eliminating the effects of the virus on the body, but not effective in eliminating the spreading from person to person.

Salk's vaccine is used in the United States so we hear more about it. Sabin's vaccine is no longer available in the USA. Sabin's vaccine is used in parts of Europe, Russia, Africa and Mexico. Maybe Canada too, but I'm not sure about that.

So, yes the Salk vaccine was discovered in Pittsburgh, but Cincinnati also has some claim to fame in the fight against polio.

Since: Nov 13, 2006
Posted on: December 11, 2011 10:07 pm

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

....and either way Pitt or UC these kids, coaches and administrations are an embarrassment.

Since: Oct 21, 2006
Posted on: December 11, 2011 9:34 pm

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

Albert Sabin developed the first practical oral delivery system for the polio vaccine based on Salk's work.  He was the head of Pediatric Research at the Childrens' Hospital at the University of Cincinnati at the time.

Since: Sep 27, 2011
Posted on: December 11, 2011 8:09 pm

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

Um, Jonas Saulk discovered the cure for polio at The Univerisity of Pittsburgh

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: December 11, 2011 8:07 pm

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

Cronin talked a great game during the press conference, but didn't follow through with the appropriate punishment. Doyel can talk all he wants about Cronin expressing words that were chock-full of "outrage and perspective", but those words don't mean a thing if they aren't backed with serious actions. I was just as impressed as Doyel was when I heard Cronin's comments and interpreted those words to mean that Cincinnati could well have three less players on their team today than they had yesterday. To say that I was absolutely stunned to learn today how light the penalties turned out to be would be a gigantic understatement. 

Gates should never wear a Cincinnati uniform again, but Cronin knows he has to have him on the roster, in order to have a realistic chance to be competitive in the Big East. As a result, Cronin chose to impose the lightest punishment he felt would be acceptable from a public relations standpoint, instead of doing the right thing and throwing Gates (who has a history of disciplinary problems) off the team.

With that being said, Xavier was every bit as responsible for this despicable episode taking place as was Cincy. Xavier's decision to suspend Holloway (who clearly instigated the brawl) for only one game is absolutely laughable. As for Chris Mack, I haven't seen or heard of any public statements he has made denouncing his team's role in what has to be considered the most embarrassing incident in college basketball on national television in recent memory. In fact, the level of suspensions announced by both schools appear to be so inadequate that it appears the time has come for the commissioners of both the Big East and Atlantic 10 to step in and impose much harsher punishments that will leave no doubt that this type of behavior on the court will not be tolerated.

Since: Sep 4, 2011
Posted on: December 11, 2011 5:25 pm

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

Several things:

This week we saw the MVP of the National League test positive for steriods, a football coach send his concussed quarterback out to play and not accept responsibility for his actions, the NBA ruin a great deal for a team in the name of parity (which in reality means money, the NBA couldn't care less about competitive balance), and a ridiculous brawl between two college basketball teams. Amongst all this terrible sports news, one good thing came out of it, and it was Mick Cronin's press conference.

Very few coaches have the guts to say what he said. I doubt there are many people who even recognize the sensationalism around sports he mentioned. This coach said what needed to be said. Someone needed to speak out about how money, ego, sensationalism, violence, machoism, and stupidity have taken over sports. This man did a great thing saying what he said.

As for the people who say he wasn't tough enough, maybe that's the case. But I don't think so. YOu don't think thee kids will be punished. Six games out, but its not over when they come back. This man did not speak empty words, trust me. This kids will pay for what they did. Give the facts time to come out. There will be community service, running, probation, strict rules, no second chances. Just watch. I think it's better for these kids to have to deal with this coaches anger and be taught a lesson than given a free pass and let go to go be thugs off the team. The will pay for what they did, Cronin will be sure of it. Suspensions aren't the only solution.

And in terms of criminal charges against some of the players. The game was still in progress. No one was seriously injured. Fault was on both sides. To bring a succesful tort to court would be extremely difficult. Won't happen.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: December 11, 2011 4:47 pm

Cronin's press conference: insincere puffery,,,

Cronin huffed.  Cronin puffed.  But he didn't come anywhere near blowing the house down.  If you don't back your words with significant action, they are just words.  Yancy Gates needed to be kicked off of the team.  I am guessing that Cronin didn't want to ruin a senior's last year, but it was Gates who threw the sucker punch, not Cronin.  
The city or county proescutor should take a look at the tape of last night's sucker punch and decide whether or not to charge Gates with assault.  If any of us here did this in a bar, we would have spend a great part of the night in jail, and would be facing at the very least a hefty fine.  Yancy Gates not only crossed the line of sportsmanship, but he crossed the line into criminal behavior.  Maybe Cronin should coach football at Michigan State.   

Since: Aug 30, 2009
Posted on: December 11, 2011 3:30 pm

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

What kind of a coach allows self-proclaimed gangstas access to a mic after the brawl?  Haven't heard much from XU land today.

Since: Aug 30, 2009
Posted on: December 11, 2011 3:28 pm

Cronin's press conference: must-see TV for all

I no longer want UC to follow us to the Big 12.  The New Big East/West conference can keep them.

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