MORGANTOWN — Brian Kelly is a traitor.
He is a turncoat.
He is a cad.
He is a selfish egomaniac who cares only about himself.
He is all that … but he isn’t wrong.
Yes, Kelly walked out on his University of Cincinnati team to coach the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, leaving them a rudderless ship trying to navigate through the tricky currents of college football, heading into a Sugar Bowl matchup with Florida without a captain.
Know what I have to say about it? Tough noogies.
Live with it. That’s the way it goes today in this ruthless world of big-time college athletics.
How do we know?
Because we asked Bob Huggins, the former Cincinnati basketball coach now at West Virginia. We weren’t even sure why we were asking him or what he might say, but it seemed like a good thing to go ahead and ask, considering the way he’d been shown the door at Cincinnati by then school-president Nancy Zimpher.
“You know,” he began, “I turned down $6.3 million to go to an NBA team (the Miami Heat). Then two other times I turned down chances to go to the NBA, I did it out of loyalty.”
So, you began thinking, Huggins believes Kelly is a traitor, a turncoat, a cad and a selfish egomaniac who cares only about himself.
“At the end of the day, everyone preaches loyalty to a program, to a team, that you have to hold up your end of the bargain. Well, I have a different feeling about it now.”
To an administrator who’s going to send you traveling if you slip from 11-0 to 8-3 the next couple of years? To an alumni base that is with you when you win, against you when you lose, that judges you not as a person but only as a coach.
Yeah, there’s not a lot of loyalty left in this world of sports.
Truth be known, there never was loyalty, not even for the sports’ royalty.
The Brooklyn Dodgers traded Jackie Robinson to the hated New York Giants, for crying out loud.
And you want loyalty?
At least Robinson was loyal. He retired rather than play for the Giants.
Where was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ loyalty to Jack Wilson, who wanted to stay, or to Matt Capps, whom they bounced out on the street on Saturday?
Rich Rodriguez was loyal, wasn’t he? And John Calipari … and John Beilein … and wasn’t that Johnny Damon in a Yankee uniform, not a Red Sox uniform, the last few years?
Brian Kelly had no obligation to Cincinnati. They knew when they hired him he was simply a hired gun, a football coach to follow the last one and precede the next one. He might be there two years, five years, 20 years.
But you can’t expect someone to turn down a better job for more money out of loyalty.
Not when he’s replacing a man who had a winning career record at Notre Dame and still got fired.
That’s the way the world turns these days.
Now we know, someone’s going to point out there were people around here, yours truly included, who skewered Rodriguez when he bolted for Michigan, but while the criticism directed at Rodriguez may have been formulated as a loyalty issue, it was filled with far too much emotion to really be centered around that.
Rich Rodriguez was coaching in the job he said he wanted most in the world, his state university, and he left not out of any lifelong desire to coach Michigan, as Kelly had had with Notre Dame, but because he was acting like a spoiled child who didn’t get his way and was going to run away from home.
Money and opportunity may have had something to do with Rodriguez leaving, but losing to Pitt had a lot more to do with it, having a shot at a national championship not only snatched away from him, but perhaps taken away by someone who fed upon his own stubbornness to do it.
Rodriguez wasn’t a hired gun come to town. He was a homeboy, one of us. What hurt was that he somehow managed to twist the situation so badly in his own mind that he interpreted whatever disloyalty was involved as the school and the state being disloyal to him by not meeting his petty demands.
No, Brian Kelly was not Rich Rodriguez leaving West Virginia. He owed no loyalty to his employer in that situation.
You want to know about being disloyal, ask Tiger Woods.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORGANTOWN — Brian Kelly is a traitor.
- Bob Herzel
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