Friday, October 20, 2006

Obviously, you don't have any experience...

(to avoid the inevitable confusion, if you don't get the joke behind the entry title, realize you're missing something and don't bother complaining about it)

Aside of giving me a chance to write (which I usually find theraputic), one of the biggest benefits of blogging for me is the opportunity to organize my thoughts better than message board posting usually allows. Blog entries have a little more permanence, and I can use that permanence to address issues I think are important.

Over the past few months, those issues have ranged from philosophical topics like VM performances on campus and The DaVinci Codes to athletic situations like the Joyce Center and former ND football coaches.

This time, though, I'm going to talk about me, which I usually try to avoid because of the risk of it being an uninteresting topic. Specifically, I want to address my philosophies of website operation with special attention towards The Pit.

If you've read a couple of the other boards lately, some folks aren't too fond of those philosophies. Let's review my favorite accusations via quotes from various emails over the past year or two.

You censor your site. Anyone who is critical of Mike Brey gets their posts deleted or gets banned. You hate free speech.

Coffey has to suck up to Brey to get access to the program. Brey wrote the foreword for his book and Coffey doesn't want him to leave.

Brey can't do anything wrong. You blame all the problems on the facilities.

Anyone who doesn't toe the line and talk nice about Mike Brey gets beaten up by the mob on the Pit and then kicked out.

So fine, as Dave Kovic would say, let's talk about it.

Do I think Mike Brey is a good man? Absolutely. In a profession featuring more than its fair share of assholes, it's refreshing in a way to see a good person try to succeed. I make no apologies for liking him or wanting him to have success.

Do I think Mike Brey can and has made mistakes? Also absolutely. No philosophies are bulletproof, and I think in some cases poor decisions were made. And as I've said in just about every entry and post I've made on the topic, the questions about facilities are not tied to the questions about coaching. Facilities don't help on defense or run a good play out of a timeout or give us any point bonuses in games. The day-to-day execution of the team is the responsibility of the coaches and always has been.

Do I kick people out for complaining about the program? Not as much now as I used to.

I'll happily cop to having had a quick trigger finger in MB's first couple of years. After being tortured for a decade watching ND basketball teams try but not get to where they needed (or I wanted them) to be, I considered people who were bitching during seasons that featured NCAA tournament runs to be way way too premature and knee-jerk. I didn't feel like reading stuff like that after suffering through the 1990s, and the quickest route was to just launch the perpetrators because I don't have all day to read the boards.

(Slight tangent: In other words, the same philosophy I use today regarding people who bitch about Charlie Weis. We just finished 10 years of excruciating football, and now we have a guy who understands the program and is having early success on the field. Yet we still have people who complain we're not getting the five-star recruits fast enough or the defense is giving up 20 points a game when it should be 10 or whatever. It's incredibly annoying to have to read, and as a moderator of the site, I don't have the option of ignoring it. Yes, it might turn out to be a problem, but for crying out loud, can we be happy for a season or two? As far as I can tell, that doesn't mean I'm in Charlie Weis' pocket. It would be rather interesting if it meant I were, seeing as I've only spoken to the man once for about 30 seconds.)

Additionally, there was a small but vociferous group who, for whatever reason, decided right after MB was hired that they didn't like him. Maybe he should have had the team wear bandanas to practice. We weren't even halfway through the first season and they were quickly pointing out every shortcoming, no matter how minor. I have no time for anyone who is going to make a judgement that quickly, and again, I lack the time and patience to tolerate it long-term. So they got bounced.

That may have set a bad precedent for me as the seasons progressed. Given the benefit of hindsight, I identified cases where I may have allowed that experience to color some of my decisions. In those cases, the people got reinstated. Some are still with us, some are not.

In some other cases, I allowed people who had been launched that I didn't feel deserved reinstatement the chance to prove their own cases on the merits, giving them new handles and then staying out of the way. In a couple of cases, it worked out. In a couple others, it didn't.

Some who may have been prematurely launched validated the decision after the fact by acting like tools via email and other message boards. Those people won't be missed.

So where are we now? Three years of improving results have been followed by three years where the team has fallen short, seemingly by a larger margin every season. Complaints I didn't consider logical three years ago after a Sweet 16 appearance are much more logical now. Shortcomings with a couple of seasons of data to back them up make for more logical and calm discussions. If some people consider that "relaxing censorship", that's on them.

As I said, I like Mike Brey and I want him to succeed at ND because I'm naturally drawn to wanting good things for good people. But if this season doesn't work out and/or the ND administration decides they want change, I'm not going to shut the site down. I'll keep doing what I've always done -- try to provide a place where people enjoy talking about ND basketball and pass along whatever info and news happens to come my way. I'm not going to grease up the frisbee because I thought we'd go farther these past few seasons than we did. If I knew everything, I sure as hell wouldn't waste my time here.

The program is bigger than me or MB or Kevin White or JAG or Phil Purcell or any other individual person associated with it (remotely or otherwise). And it'll continue after this season no matter what happens. So I will as well.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually that's Dave Kovic as Bill Mitchell

10/28/2006 10:36:00 AM  

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