The late Jack Anderson is considered one of the fathers of modern investigative journalism. He wrote a very popular column for years. I noticed after awhile, it seemed he was sometimes reaching. He’d built this reputation and some of his columns started to feel like he was pushing beyond fairness to keep his reputation.
I’m starting to get the same feeling about Christine Brennan.
I’ve admired the USA Today sports columnist for many years, but two recent columns have me wondering if she’s reaching.
First, she called for Kirby Hocutt’s head, saying Texas Tech’s Director of Athletics should be fired after the womens’ basketball mess, ending with the firing of Marlene Stollings and her staff.
I have no issue with Brennan’s opinion … she’s welcome to it as is any columnist … what bothered me was she didn’t get a key fact right in making her case against Hocutt.
Department of full disclosure: One of the clients of my media company is Texas Tech Athletics. I have a lot of respect for what Kirby Hocutt has done since coming to Lubbock because I’ve reported and written about a lot of what Athletics does, such as the J.T. & Margaret Talkington Leadership Academy and other things making a positive impact on student athletes’ lives.
So now that that’s out of the way, Brennan ripped Hocutt for not properly vetting assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins, who was on Stollings’ staff, and why she was fired at New Mexico State almost 20 years ago. Stollings was Lowry Dawkins’ assistant back then in Las Cruces.
But Dawkins ended up in Lubbock shortly after that on Marsha Sharp’s staff. So she was a known quantity.
Hocutt explained that when he faced media to make his mea culpa about the situation. So Texas Tech had experience with Stollings’ assistant.
None of this is to discount what happened to the Lady Raider program. It was a mess and it looks like Krista Gerlich is already fixing things. And, as I said, Brennan has every right to call for Hocutt’s job, but just get all your facts straight.
Second, she said the Big Ten Conference’s decision to start the 2020 football season next month is “the darkest day in Big Ten sports history.”
Worse than what happened to Penn State’s football program?
Brennan went on to rip the Big Ten for following what she called the “football factories” of the SEC, Big 12 and ACC and flip-flopping on what she said was a correct and prudent decision.
As I’ve said since the pandemic started, we should be responsible and do the best to live our lives as normally as possible.
Part of living for me is going to Texas Tech football games and I was there Sept. 12 (see photo above) to watch the Red Raiders win their first game, even though it was way closer than expected. And also in the interest of full disclosure, I pay for my tickets.
By the way, maybe some of the reason for such a close game was Houston Baptist’s offensive coordinator is Lubbock-raised Zach Kittley, son of Red Raider track and field coach Wes Kittley. Zach was on Kliff Kingsbury’s staff at Tech and worked with Patrick Mahomes. Seems like he knows his stuff.
Game Day was a different experience … no music going on as I walked across campus, got right in with the tickets on my phone, the band and cheerleaders were spread out on the south end zone and all were wearing masks. Even Raider Red had a mask.
It was also familiar … the Masked Rider galloped down the field as the team came out, then a normal football game took place. The field was still 100 yards long, there were four quarters, touchdowns were still six points, extra points add one or two. “The Matador Song” was played after the game.
We need as much familiarity as we can as we battle this virus and part of that is keeping our economy going as much as we reasonably and safely can.
But to Brennan, the Big Ten sold its soul.
“For decades, the Big Ten has thought of itself as a different kind of sports conference, one that proudly touts the academic achievements and Great Lakes values of its like-minded, highly regarded, internationally ranked research institutions,” she wrote.
The Big 12, SEC and ACC don’t have highly regarded research institutions and went ahead with football without concern about its student-athletes?
And Great Lakes values are superior to the rest of us?
Brennan studied journalism at Northwestern and is a member of its Board of Trustees. She’s disgusted with the decision also because she thinks the conference caved to President Trump, who urged the conference to play ball.
Maybe the Big Ten looked at the other conferences and thought we’ve learned more about the virus and there are ways to go ahead. Now the Pac 12 has made the same decision, saying it watched the science and now feels they can go ahead,
The darkest day in Big Ten history?
No … maybe they’re just trying to find a speck of familiar like the rest of us and we don’t need Christine Brennan in our way.