Assessing the Technical Heard Round Los Angeles

By this point in time, most of you know who Stan Holt is, and in all honesty, I'm not so sure he's thrilled by this. During Saturday's Pac-10 game against Oregon, Holt, a third year student manager, was whistled for a technical foul with 4 minutes 35 seconds left and Oregon leading, 49-47. The call proved to be a huge momentum swing and helped to propel the Ducks to a ten point victory over the Trojans. 

But while the notorious play was certainly a factor in USC's demise, most of the controversy surrounding Holt has centered on the way Kevin O'Neill handled the situation in the moments after. According to an initial report from the Oregonian, O'Neill fired Holt, who received the technical for yelling obscenities at the officials, on the spot. O'Neill walked toward to Holt, who was sitting on the opposite end of the bench and kicked him out of the gym. After the game, O'Neill explained his rational to the media:

"That's on me and that will be rectified. It already has been. He's gone. If somebody's getting a technical foul, it's going to be me."    

But while he rescinded his remarks later that evening in order to "reassess the situation, " O'Neill confirmed on Sunday to the Orange County Register that he had in fact decided to fire Holt: 

"He's no longer with us. My thought process was exactly this: That's inexcusable. I didn't hire this guy. I kept him on. I've never heard of a manager getting a technical foul. Moving forward, that's all there is to it."

"I'm not saying that it lost us the game, but it changed the momentum of the game. But it wouldn't have mattered if we were up 20 or down 20. He has no business talking to the officials, nor does anybody on our bench except me."

It's tough to really know what happened and who is in the wrong in this situation, considering that there are conflicting reports at this point in time. From the LA Times

While the impact of the call was certain, there is uncertainty about what caused it. O'Neill said official Bobby McRoy did not recite what Holt said, only to say "he was screaming obscenities at him." O'Neill said McRoy didn't warn him about Holt before making the call.

One team source said he could hear Holt jawing with officials during the game. Another source said that Holt, who had been with the team for three years, had been warned about that on previous occasions.    

If this is the case, then I see no reason as to why O'Neill isn't justified in canning Holt. With prior warnings and a history of similar behavior, Holt had to know what was coming next. So, the fact that he was kicked off the team and subjected to 7,000 Oregon fans chanting "you got fired" shouldn't come as a big shock.

However, if these reports are inaccurate, then it may be a tad bit difficult to justify O'Neill's behavior in this circumstance. Provided Holt made one error in judgement, I have a tough time saying that O'Neill made the right move to fire him on the spot. At the very least, he should waited until the game was over and spoken to him in private like a professional. Lashing out in public and subjecting a college student to ridicule and embarrassment may have been a tad bit excessive. 

Of course, at this point in time, it's tough to know who or what to believe. 

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