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The race to the bottom

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A few words on Todd McNair and the race to the bottom:

The folks over at Bruins Nation have had a good week for themselves, and it's only Wednesday. Apparently one of their commentors just happened to be googling USC's coaching staff, as you do, and found that Todd McNair had been convicted in New Jersey in 1996 of charges of cruelty to animals and neglect. The initial charges also included keeping dogs for the purposes of fighting, but this was not proven.

The BN commentor's diary was put on the front page by Nestor, who also noted that McNair allegedly knew about Reggie Bush's improper benefits, and who challenged the local press to do something about it. That latter challenge to the local press in Los Angeles was fair enough - whatever the motivation, BN evidently put more effort into connecting the dots about the opposition than the LA Times did their beat reporting subject - Google is freely available, after all, and I bet the LA Times has Lexis Nexis access as well.

Well, Gary Klein of the LA Times duly did look into the story, noting the post on BN, and confirmed it. Klein also found a 1994 incident, again in new Jersey, where one of McNair's dogs killed a neighbor's dog, as well as a 1993 charge of animal neglect when McNair was in Kansas City.

When asked about the charges, Pete Carroll said, "We looked into it to make sure we knew what happened," Carroll said. "That was a long time ago."

So, apparently we have now entered a race to the bottom in terms of finding coaches with criminal records. I will happily admit to having a good laugh about Eric Scott's summer escapades; I don't find this particularly funny. But turn about is fair play, and it's fair to ask if Pete Carroll et al knew, and if they knew and didn't care. Speaking only for myself, if they knew and decided to hire him anyway, and we've stooped to the level of UCLA in hiring practices, so be it. I find animal abuse reprehensible, but if nothing else it's not like McNair is OJ Simpson. At some level, you have to let people prove that they can demonstrate reformed behavior, and that's as true of Eric Scott as it is of Todd McNair.

I'd be more upset if it emerged that McNair, like Scott, was (allegedly) involved in repeat criminal behavior now. As it is, eleven years have elapsed since the last apparent instance of McNair's bad behavior.

So, in summary, it's worth a review of what BN might actually proving here. I'm leaving aside the comments about the Reggie Bush allegations because BN Goggles of Justice render the word "alleged" as "GUILTY AS HELL," and instead focusing on the stories that have been proven. They've been able to demonstrate that: 1) USC also hired an assistant coach who has a record, just like UCLA, so we're even there; 2) USC could have looked into their assistant coaches past more, just like UCLA, and we might be even there; and, 3) USC assistant coaches appear to have trouble with recidivism? Well, we're not there yet on #3. Keep hope alive on the race to the bottom, BN faithful!

In the meantime, you'll excuse us if we don't spend all of our time trying to dig up new dirt on our rival programs so that we can feel better about our team's missteps.

Update [2007-8-29 16:26:1 by Paragon SC]:

DC Trojan has written a great piece but I want to throw my thoughts out here on the McNair situation.

First and foremost I am a blogger, and while this story has put USC in a bad light and disturbs me deeply you have to give BN a hat tip for flushing out a story that the MSM either ignored or completely missed. Regardless of what I may feel about their site and their contributors it would be hypocritical of me to bitch and moan about this story just because I don’t like what the story is about without at least giving credit where credit is due. A rising tide raises all boats and this only gives bloggers MORE credibility in a medium in which we fight for credibility everyday. We may not like the results of their methods in regards to this piece but the methods, in the end, are something that we all have access to and it is an individual choice to search the internet for the salacious past of others lives. We choose not to.

We have stated time and again that we will not go scouring every nook and cranny to dig up dirt on our rivals because again it has no bearing on what happens on the field. Of course if a story comes our way we will comment on it, make note of it and move on. I think our handling of the Eric Scott case was indicative of that. Our commentary on that story was more about the information of the case as it was presented to the public, the speculation of who knew what and when and the irony that a fan base that has tried to tout a holier than thou attitude about morals and character was itself embroiled in its own controversy about said subject. If the Scott case came out for some other reason other than the fact that he was arrested in the alleged commission of a similar act we would have also noted it but the irony angle would still apply based on Scott’s past. Todd McNair like Eric Scott have paid their debt to society in the name of fines and probation. If the government is happy with it then so am I, as both deserve second chances and the opportunity to become productive members of society.

As for the McNair situation I have a couple of thoughts. I am disappointed and disturbed about this story. I am not a rabid animal rights activist, no pun intended, but I am also smart enough to understand that this is something that you Do NOT Do. I learned at an early age, when my family owned a number of animals, about the responsibility of caring for a pet, as an adult I still understand those responsibilities and because I understand them I choose not to own a pet because I just don’t have the time or the room to take on that responsibility. I have more important things to do, but if I did own a pet I certainly would give it all of my effort to offer that pet a happy home. What inspires people to this is beyond me. I am an avid bird hunter and I take the responsibility of the sport very seriously that by no means makes me animal abuser as I eat what I shoot and only shoot the bare minimum to enjoy the experience.

McNair has been involved in controversy in the past with his alleged knowledge of the Reggie Bush affair and his involvement with the whole FaceBook/White Nation thing. I am not going to speculate as to what Pete Carroll knows or what he should about it. It is his ship to steer and he will bear the brunt of responsibility if things are more than they seem. But I want to reiterate something that I said in the past. I am a fan not an alum so I don’t live by the whole school pride thing. Those who have attended USC take their affiliation with the institution seriously where as I only care about how the team does on the field, I may not be happy about some of the issues that have come up in the past few seasons but I won’t lose sleep over it either simply because it isn’t about the game itself. There are those who live for this sort of stuff and that is fine, I choose not get I the gutter and roll around in the mud. As we have stated in the past we will comment on issues that come up but we won’t obsess about them.