Have you heard? Tennessee messed up! Royally!
The saga of Tennessee signing a memo of intent with, then reneging on, Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is by now well-known. Here’s a helpful primer from the Mothership if you’re confused.
But a non-insignificant part of the outrage from rank-and-file Tennessee fans has taken a dark turn. That, the thesis of this stupid piece I’m having to write in the Year of Our Lord Delany 2017, is fucking unacceptable.
And that’s the fact that Schiano was named in one passage of the depositions surrounding the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case. Per Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel, quoting the Mike McQueary deposition, McQueary relayed that Tom Bradley had mentioned that Schiano had said something to him about Sandusky abusing boys. Schiano has denied this.
You see, this has become the popular reason in a significant portion of Volunteer Nation as a reason not to hire Greg Schiano.
IMPORTANT APPARENTLY-NECESSARY DISCLAIMER: NONE OF THIS OPINION PIECE CONDONES CHILD ABUSE IN ANY FORM AND UNEQUIVOCALLY CONDEMNS THOSE WHO KNOWINGLY AID IN ITS PERPETRATION, ACTIVELY OR PASSIVELY
Take, if you will, these three tweets from SBNation’s Stephen White:
By the way, I haven't seen a single Tennessee fan complain at Schiano isn't a "big name." Its the whole "being a shitty person" that's the issue, here.— Stephen White (@sgw94) November 26, 2017
We hired Derek F'n Dooley and nobody protested. It is amazing the way people are trying to paint this shit like Schiano is some kinda victim. Fuck him, he isn't entitled to the Tennessee job. https://t.co/Ll9jRFnrl4— Stephen White (@sgw94) November 26, 2017
What's wild is none of them seem to get that the message they appear to be pushing is "the best Tennesse can do is a shitty person who may have covered up child rape at Penn State." Gonna go ahead and say I'll take a worse *coach* who has none of that baggage. Sign me the fuck up— Stephen White (@sgw94) November 27, 2017
And then Spencer Hall’s comments on this morning’s mostly-hilarious Shutdown Fullcast (which you should listen to if just for the wisconsin “Daguerrotype of Doom” and Auburn having a 12th man—Jesus—on the field) set me off. You can pick it up at the 48:30 mark, as Spencer Hall, Jason Kirk, and Ryan Nanni stop teasing us about discussing the Tennessee hire and go all in on it. Which...well, here’s my transcript beginning at 53:47:
“Now I will tell you this—that’s also a lot to run with to say that this was an uncorroborated hearsay allegation in an investigation combined with the Twitter mob, the social medias bringin’ this guy down. No! No, no no. That’s horseshit. That’s not how this happened, OK? This happened at a grassroots level; this happened because people at Tennessee were repelled by the idea of this guy being their coach.
And, frankly, that's bullshit. First, because something happening “at a grassroots level” does not automatically make it a good thing! Like...what the hell?
Second, if Greg Schiano could win 10 games a season at Tennessee, the good ol’ boys in Vol Nation would have snapped him up so fast and brayed that all the allegations were hearsay and that he was the right man for the job. These are people who count Phil Fulmer as a paragon of coaching! (Yes, that Phil Fulmer!) You know, until he was shown the door when he stopped winning...
But almost the damn moment that these people were supposedly “repelled” by the idea of Greg Schiano as their coach, they went to the Penn State scandal. They invoked Schiano’s proximity to underage victims as the be-all, end-all reason he was disqualified to coach Tennessee Volunteers football.
“Alright? And just not for that reason, but that’s what ends up on The Rock, and I know that’s what everyone’s gonna see, right, when they do this...”
Right! And that needs to be condemned.
“...but at the same time, that is totally not why this happened, OK?”
Ah! Now it’s totally OK that they painted “SCHIANO COVERED UP CHILD RAPE AT PENN STATE” on a huge fucking rock! Please, enlighten me why this happened and why it’s OK that it happened.
“This happened because people started pulling money out of the situation when they saw that this is who the AD picked and was running with.”
Well no, it was really Clay Travis getting on Twitter and whipping up the braying lunatics of VolTwitter up in arms, but hey, that’s about as grassroots as certain...parties...with tea...
[/looks at spiders creeping out of the corner]
Take I-75 to I-59 and head about two and a half hours southwest of hallowed Neyland Stadium. Look around and talk about the importance of underage victims and how it disqualifies a human being for a high-paying, prominent job.
Not a human who heard from another human about something happening to an underage victim, mind you. The actual perpetrator him-fucking-self.
NOTE: NONE OF THIS IS TO EXONERATE GREG SCHIANO, IF HE WAS INVOLVED IN ANY WAY, IN THE COVER-UP OF THE PENN STATE CHILD ABUSE SCANDAL. NONE OF THIS.
But let's not pretend that mindset—that now we are 100% behind prosecuting anyone who had anything to do with the abuse of underage victims—-just flips when you walk over the border from Huntsville to Murfreesboro, huh? There's a lot of fucking overlap on that shit sandwich of a Venn diagram.
In fact, let me walk you through how that thought process worked for about 75-90% of Tennessee Volunteers fans:
(1) I DON'T LIKE THE GREG SCHIANO HIRE.
(2) I NEED TO FIND REASONS WHY I DON'T LIKE HIM.
(3) HE IS BASICALLY JOE PATERNO WITHOUT THE FOOTBALL-COACHING ABILITIES!
If you thought using the lives and traumas of real, actual victims could justify whatever insecurities you have about college football...you’re a pretty damn irredeemable human being.
I should be clear. Continuing immediately after the section I quoted above, at 54:34, Spencer went on:
“For football reasons alone, you can get this—because, do you get who likes working with Greg Schiano? NO ONE.”
Greg Schiano was a mediocre-at-best candidate AS A FOOTBALL COACH—someone who wins games and avoids player abuse and lack of departmental control—for the University of Tennessee. He was a bad choice for on-field reasons. Period. Full goddamn stop.
If the next sentence or clause out of your mouth [or the 45 seconds of audio immediately preceding it] is something like "and that's before all the Penn State stuff!" just stop. Put it back in that dark corner of your brain. You can invoke Schiano being an asshole, a Butch Jones clone, an average coach -- anything else!
[57:07] “If your line of scrimmage in that context starts at ‘Well, you know, he didn’t know about this, but was mentioned in the case,’ that’s a bad place for you to even start!”
I mean, look at this fucking shit:
Yes I agree but it is about time for a group to stand up and tonight #VOLNATION #VOLTWITTER .. did .. against child sexual abuse... let everyone else see what we have done and follow in our footsteps ... # epic night— ron buchanan (@ronbuchanan44) November 27, 2017
You don’t even need to start there, Spencer. You don’t even need to start there, Tennessee fans who painted that on The Rock. You don’t even need to start there [don’t click this link, I’m just putting it there to be thorough], Clay Travis. Triple-fuck you for kicking this all off. If you’re not one of the hypocrites condoning certain candidates but drawing the line at football coaches, you should have a level-headed enough view of the world to realize that there are plenty of perfectly valid reasons to object to this hire.
But don't bring Penn State up because you think you're entitled to more, and don’t rationalize the behavior of those people who do. Don't you goddamn dare. That something began at the “grassroots” does not automatically justify it. And that people are condoning that self-masturbatory hypocrisy as “grassroots” activism is sick.