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Big Ten Basketball: Is Fran’s Latest Meltdown a Big Deal?

Should Iowa or the Big Ten do anything about Fran McCaffery’s latest meltdown last night after the 84-76 loss to Maryland?

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, following the 84-76 loss to the Maryland Terrapins, Iowa Hawkeye coach Fran McCaffery launched into a tyrade aimed at the head referee as soon as the buzzer sounded. McCaffery was angered at apparent no-calls down the stretch in the game where Iowa had spent the majority of the second half chipping away at a 15 point deficit before finally taking a brief lead with under 5 minutes to play in the game. McCaffery then proceeded to barely make it back to the handshake line and avoided Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon’s handshake, who had to pat him on the chest and tell him good game as Fran angrily walked by without a word.

The question is: Is it a big deal, and if so should the powers at be do something about it?

DJ: I’ll play the new to the conference card here and state that outside of this season I did not know Fran’s history of meltdowns. So prior to googling this last night, the wife and I were rewinding the TV in disbelief that a grown man was freaking out the way McCaffery did. Not only that, but he almost missed the handshake line and appeared like he was forcing himself through it. Grow. Up. To me, I liken this to how you teach athletes to leave it on the field and after the game it’s back to normal. You see people get fired up in football but afterwards everyone shakes hands and many have brief conversations. You presume this same aspect of sportsmanship is taught in basketball as well to leave it all on the court. Fran 100% did not do that, running after the referee to scream at him at the top of his lungs after attempting really hard to get a technical in the last ten seconds of the game that the referees refused to give him. Mark Turgeon had to pat him on the chest to say good game because Fran is too big of a baby to shake his hand because he’s mad at the ref? Get out of here with that. That’s not what you’re supposed to be teaching your players, especially a team full of freshmen.

The Iowa AD and/or the Big Ten would be right if they were to fine or discipline Fran for his latest meltdown. Just because we’ve come to expect it from him, and many have made a makeshift scale of his meltdown status, does not mean it should be happening.

Stew: [with some MNW prodding along not noted]: That’s erupting? Whatever. Turgeon did worse during the game and didn’t even get a warning [DJ note: you’re right, although it wasn’t for lack of effort but it seemed ref’s weren’t buying into either coach]. He yelled at the refs when the game ended, he was not restrained, he was not out of control. I wish he didn’t do that, but that particular episode seems to me like his reputation making it bigger than it actually is. I wish Fran wouldn’t do that stuff, and because he’s had other incidents it means that a smaller one gets blown up a bit.

There probably is a bit of normalizing the actions because ‘he’s my coach’ but he didn’t follow them off the court and he lined up in the handshake line, too. It wasn’t good, I’m not defending what he did, it wasn’t smart, it was bad. The biggest difference between that and what Turgeon did was the going across the court, and as has been noted, it was at the end of the game when that doesn’t matter as much. I also missed it live (putting my daughters to bed as soon as the game was over) and only saw the video from the link, so if there is more to it I am willing to amend my thoughts.

After sleeping on it, here are my final thoughts.

Fran does have a history, and that has to be taken into context. I also, generally, don’t like anyone blowing up at refs. It’s plain not acceptable behavior. It wouldn’t be acceptable almost anywhere else, it shouldn’t be in a sporting event, either. That being said, it is, for the most part, a part of the game. I really think refs should call way more techs to curtail this stuff, and really, if there’s a pattern of behavior, maybe even fines, escalating to suspensions, and then ultimately, firing. At this point, I would think that for something like last night, a relatively small fine would probably be in order.