Coaches Gone Wild: The fine line of cheating in sports

In one of New York’s five boroughs, a brand new basketball coach coaching in a brand new basketball arena tries something never before seen on the sidelines, a trick straight out of a Bad News Bears movie, just to see if it would work.  In Pittsburgh, a head football coach takes a page out of the Woody Hayes playbook by narrowly tight-roping the sidelines in an effort to tackle an opposing player his own players can’t seem to.  And back in the good old Northeast, we hear repeated rumblings of a team illegally spying on its opponents.

If it’s one thing we can’t stand in sports, it’s cheating.  We watch sports because we consider them to be the last bastion of something we can believe in.  We expect our players and the teams we root for to give it their all without breaking the rules.  We denigrate players for the rest of their careers when they use performance enhancing drugs to get an edge.  It ruins the game, we cry.  Even the mere hint of someone gambling on the sport they’re involved in is enough to warrant a life time ban.  These are crimes we can’t forgive but when it comes to other forms of cheating, where do we draw the line?

Jason Kidd spills drinkOn Wednesday, November 27th, Jason Kidd’s Brooklyn Nets were playing, and losing to, the Los Angeles Lakers.  They’re losing is not a shock considering, at 5-12, the high-priced, underachieving Nets are one of the worst, and certainly most dysfunctional, teams in the league.

With seconds left in the game and out of time outs, Coach Kidd did two things I’ve never seen an NBA coach do on the sidelines: 1) with a full drink in his hand, he walked up to his players as they were walking off the floor and 2) “intentionally” had one his players run into him, spilling said fountain drink, so that the referees would have to call a time out to clean up the spill.

Kidd has since vehemently denied that he spilled the drink on purpose.  No matter.  The league fined him $50,000 for the incident.  Someone should have told the rookie head coach the NBA is not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe.

I’d like to call Kidd’s antics industrious but more than anything they demonstrate how unprepared he is to coach in this league.

Mike Tomlin has already won a Super Bowl.  For a brief minute he had us all asking who Bill Cowher was.  That was in 2009.  In 2010, the Steelers won another AFC North division title and made it all the way back to the Super Bowl, losing to Green Bay.   Since then, they’ve made it back to the playoffs only once, losing to a miraculous, last second Tim Tebow completion to Demaryius Thomas.  The Steelers finished 8-8 the following year and this year, at 5-7, they’re essentially out of the playoffs once again, a far cry from Steeler standards.

Tomlin sidelineFrustrations in the Steel City are mounting.  That became obvious on Thanksgiving Day when Coach Tomlin tee-tottered the sidelines and allegedly interfered with Baltimore Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones.  The Steelers lost that game 22-20.  Tomlin has since defended himself saying he was looking at the Jumbotron which gave him a better view of the runback, as if the sidelines aren’t already the best seats in the house.

The league has yet to fine Tomlin and the Steelers but reports are that the penalty may be in the six figure range.

In 2007, the New England Patriots were found guilty of videotaping opposing coaches’ signals to get a leg up on their competition.   What ultimately became known as SpyGate cost them dearly.  Head coach Bill Belichick was fined a half a million dollars.  The team was fined another $250,000 and they were docked a first round draft pick.

Now there are rumblings that the Patriots may be up to their same old tricks, pulling out the video camera for old time sakes.

Belichick arms crossedAll three of these incidents show just how far coaches and teams will go to assure victory.  The days of drawing up X’s and O’s on the chalkboard are over; the days of resorting to antics like these have just begun.  Fortunately, their respective leagues aren’t having it, doling out fines that would put a healthy dent into any Christmas shopping spree.  But is that enough to stop coaches from doing things like this in the future?

I get it.  Coaching at the highest ranks of any sport is a pressure cooker.  You’re constantly looking over your shoulder, doing whatever it takes within reason, to ensure yours is not the next coaching vacancy.  Just ask Will Muschamp.

But aren’t coaches still supposed to lead by example?  While winning at any cost might assure one keeps their job, it still doesn’t make one a winner.  In fact, it does exactly the opposite.

25 thoughts on “Coaches Gone Wild: The fine line of cheating in sports

  1. Pingback: Coaches Gone Wild: The fine line of cheating in sports - BallHyped Blog Network, NBA | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. I am not so sure he said “hit me”. I honestly don’t care much if they are bending the rules…seems creative to me. Tomlin should have been penalized, but again I am not sure if it was intentional. Jones would have been tackled in another 3-5 yards anyways. Tomlin watched the big screen the whole time. He may not have put two and two together. Billy Donovan spends almost the entire game outside the coaches box and on the court. Much ado about nothing these days in the world of sports.

  3. I can see the creativity in the Kidd move, D. I can also see the desperation.

    Speaking of Donovan, I may be heading up there for that Gators-Kansas game. Got any extra tickets there, Rock Chalk?

  4. No…Puckett might have some…they are still selling them through the box office as part of a three game set…Kansas and 2 scrub games but might be worth it anyways. You can also get Kentucky and 2 scrub games if you would prefer. I saw the commercial last night for the 3 game set.

  5. I’ll text him.

    I just know the game is on a Tuesday night and works perfectly for my schedule.

    I may bring clubs. You gonna be able to take time off or no?

  6. ANYTHING that stops an NBA game (home of the league controlled ping pong ball draft) is a good thing! LOL!

    Back in the Raiders’ glory days Al Davis said it… “Just win baby!” He didn’t say “Just win fairly…” And if you’ll recall, year in year out, the Raiders were the most penalized team in the league by far… Everybody but Raider Nation hated their guts, including the NFL’s front office but the Raiders won anyway… Tough!

    It’s too bad your video didn’t show the jumbotron’s version of Jacoby’s run back against the Steelers. It may very well vindicate Tomlin… He jumped out of the way just in time and never looked as Jones approached… I’m not a Steelers fan by any means but I think I’d give the man a pass on this one…

    Sour grapes concerning the Pats… Bunch of sore losers groping for straws is closer to the truth…

    How about Ohio State under Urban Meyer? I’m hearing Buckeye fans going on and on over their team’s 24-0 record in two seasons like they’ve accomplished an impossible feat… I call BS. How many SEC teams alone, if playing the cream puff schedule Ohio State plays with the majority of those games in their home stadium, would go undefeated year after year… I know a couple of PAC-12 teams that could do it too… I see another massacre in the making if OSU makes it to the BcS championship game…

    There ya go Chris!

  7. Funny, Dwin.

    Actually, Carmelo Anthony stops an NBA game, or at least the flow of one, and he’s not a good thing, so you stand corrected.

    I’m still not convinced about Tomlin’s innocence. Sure he was watching the Jumbotron but he could easily tell by looking at it where he was on the sidelines in relation to Jacoby’s path.

    And so now it’s looking like Ohio State versus Florida State in the BCS title game? I remember when two other teams I couldn’t stand, FSU and Tennessee played for a national championship years ago. I couldn’t bring myself to watch.

  8. Wussup Chris! Back at it again. Been MIA for a while. We loved the J.Kidd “Hit Me” video… amazing what people would do or try to do to save their job. Such bad coaching there in Brooklyn.

  9. Chump,

    I agree that Kidd is in over his head and it appeared that the drink debacle was overtly schemed so penalize him

    Tomlin… not so much. He was not on the field of play. By watching the jumbotron he maintains plausible deniability which DC has shown is the only legal standard that remains

    And… as an long time Buckeye… can I say that I agree that their “D” has been suspect for a long long time… not that their 24-0 mark deserves the open hatred seen in the media with so many spoiled SEC fans claiming that any one or two loss SEC team is better…

    if you think so then don’t lose… its easy…

    …those sour grapes are going to make for some interesting raisins…

  10. I’m an SEC guy, Tree, but listen, if they don’t make it in this year, I’m perfectly okay with that. This isn’t a lifetime achievement award. Despite playing against worse competition, Ohio State may very well be a better team that either Auburn or Missouri. If that’s the case, then they deserve the bid.

    Here’s hoping this weekend’s matchups will provide a little more clarity.

  11. Al…

    Don’t forget Kidd’s DUI for which he was suspended the first few games of the season. You’re getting paid millions of dollars a year, J. Get a damn driver.

    You know how the Steelers are about their coaches, man. Tomlin will have to do a hell of a lot more than teeter the sidelines and have a few losing seasons to lose his job.

    The ‘Hawks are good, Al. Real good. I know I’m going chalk on this one but I really like a Denver-Seattle Super Bowl.

    And of course Auburn’s AD said that. What’s he supposed to say? That Ohio State deserves in and that his school doesn’t?

    Let the jockeying for that number two spot begin!

  12. “Let the jockeying for that number 2 spot begin!”

    aaaaaaaahhhhh buulllllllsshhhh_____tttttt…

    For whatever their current warts, and there are plenty, the Buckeyes have run the table. Twice. Consecutively.

    Let any and ALL whiny SEC naysayers stand in line behind their own perfect schedules and then speak.

    Wow did it get quiet all the sudden or what?

  13. Chris,

    Give Raven returner Jacoby Jones some smart future insight. He refused to blame Tomlin for anything. Stating, “my fault for not scoring TD.”

    The Houston Texans claiming NE knew their game plan. LOL!! I guess Belichick told the team to fall behind double digits and we’ll get’em late with a Gostkowski field goal. Kubiak needs a health re-evaluation. They need to check for paranoia. He sure as hell ain’t head coaching material. Reminds me of his playing career…….a perennial backup.

  14. It doesn’t just happen in college and pro sports. It happens at the high school level as well. In Texas, Odessa Permian High School is legend. This is the team that Friday Night Lights was based upon. In band, we were constantly reminded that Permian was perfect; if they were standing at attention and were about to be hit by a car, they DID NOT move (yet, let the 268 members of the Monterey High School marching band launch into Star Wars as soon as they finish the same tune right in front of us, and they all turn around to see what hit them). But I digress.

    Permian has been penalized numerous times for “recruiting” irregularities (if your parent works in the oil industry and you show any sign of talent, your parent is transferred to Odessa and your family has a rent-free, all utilities paid residence within the Permian attendance boundaries).

    Permian’s most recent encounter with win at all costs came in 2010. Back then, the end all, be all basketball player at Permian was a “16 year old sophomore” named Jerry Joseph. He led the Panthers to victory after victory including a run in the state playoffs. There was just one problem- he wasn’t Jerry Joseph and he wasn’t a 16 year old sophomore. He was a 22 year old who had graduated from a Florida high school in 2007.

  15. Tomlin got his, Al. To the tune of one hundred mil. I guess we’re still waiting to hear if they’re going to dock them draft picks as well. Ouch!

    I haven’t paid much attention to what the Tigers are doing but Jacoby Ellsbury should have himself a pleasant Christmas.

  16. Tree…

    Like I said, Ohio State vs. Florida State should be a nice little championship game.

    But I am down for some inter-conference co-mingling during the regular season to give us an idea of how good Ohio State actually is.

    I’d like to see them do another home and away with a team that’s actually worth a damn.

  17. Al…

    The Knicks and Nets are a combined 8-26. On the flipside, the Spurs and Pacers are a combined 33-5, yet which are we talking about more?

    I’m just wondering if Jason Kidd makes it through this season. Have we heard whether Prohkorov has given him a vote of confidence like Foley did for Muschamp? If so, they’re probably smoking the same pot.

    Re: Tomlin, I don’t care how much you make. One hundred grand is a nice chunk of change.

    NFL Europe? I don’t see that happening. But after last night’s fiasco in Mexico City, I see NBA Latin America happening even less.

    Not enough evidence to support a claim against Winston. Can’t help but think though that some Heisman voters might still be leery.

  18. Al…

    Kidd is useless. Wasn’t it ultimately Prokhorov’s decision to hire him? Or did someone convince him to do so. Either way, they got sold a bag of goods. No way he makes it through the season.

    Re: The Heat, I’m wondering if they’re just going through the motions at this point. I know Wade is hurt it looks like they didn’t even try last night.

    More than half the teams, Al? There are only two Eastern Conference teams, Indy and Miami, over .500. The Hawks are in third place and they’re 10-10!

  19. Not my code but seems like the old,
    “If you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin”
    addage is in full effect these days.

  20. Al…

    The NBA might have a little mini-crisis on their hands. There are a number of really bad teams in the league.

    I wonder if Silver would ever consider contraction.

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