I have tried to stay away from weighing in on the Rich Rodriguez-WVU divorce. I have felt that I was too close to the story. It has been too personal. Like most WVU fans, I feel like a child caught in a nasty custody battle. Like most divorces, nobody comes out unhurt or clean. I have felt in someways that we fans have been stuck in this eye of the storm and it still hasn't made landfall. After reading so many negative slants towards West Virginia and just plain lazy journalists, I feel it's time that the other side be heard. I guess I have to do this, because I, like many others, need my catharsis. I need my faith restored.
This past week Rich Rodriguez's deposition was released. Nothing new really was learned in the deposition than what really has been previously reported. It's all now out on the table.
From the start of this whole exercise, I have been trying to determine how West Virginia has been the villain in this whole soap opera. First we were called racists by Rod's top assistant, Calvin Magee because he was not considered for the head coaching position. This made national headlines. Yet, when a sworn affidavit from former Mountaineer Athletic Club official, Larry Aschebrooke, comes out calling Rod and his team on his bluff, it barely makes a ripple. Rod's only response was that were more than twenty lies. Well, my question is what are they and can you back it up with your own affidavit?
Chuck Finder, a writer and I use that term loosely, was covering this situation for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It was he, who first reported the racist claims without getting verification. Then he cited claims of harassment and threats towards Rod, his family and his coaches. This made national headlines. Rod went on ESPN crying. Yet, the Monongalia County Sheriff and the West Virginia State Police investigated and found nothing. There were no police reports filed, yet nobody, again, in the national media picked it up. Rod found his conduit in Chuck to help spread his PR battle against WVU. After the affidavit broke, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette did not cover it. In it, Aschebrooke, claimed that Rod said that Chuck (Finder) would take care of things in the media. Chuck Finder was "reassigned" to cover the penguins in the NHL playoffs and a new beat writer was assigned to cover WVU.
My question is that how does a journalist like Chuck Finder get away with writing false stories and yet there is no punishment for him? I'm all for freedom of the press, but Chuck and the Post Gazette should be held accountable. The problem is how do you prove libel. That's the problem with modern day media. They go for the tabloidy, sensationalistic stories and there is no reprocussion for their actions. It is a sad state of affairs.
When Rod's deposition was released, the ESPN.com headline read and I quote " Rod Says W. Va. Officials Pressured Him to Sign in 2007". How about calling it down the middle and reading the actual affidavit? Rod does make these claims, but yet again, somehow the headline reads that West Virginia is in the wrong.
Rod's lawyer Marv Robon claimed that the $ 4 million buyout was akin to slavery. Rod had it rough living in his $ 2 million slave quarters on Cheat Lake. I guess two million dollars a year and getting all new upgrades to the locker room, the new academic center, the new suites, and the new scoreboard weren't enough, yet Rod said we hadn't done enough.
I guess it hurts more when it's one of your own. It hurts more when you buy into it and to find out that the man is Charlatan. One can only hope that John Lennon was right and, "Instant Karma is gonna get you."
Maybe I'm sick of the West Virginia stereotypes. Maybe I'm sick of getting talked down to, but enough is enough. We are a proud people. West Virginia has no pro sports teams. We don't have much in the way of well paying jobs or great highways, but the one thing we do have is WVU and I'm sick of the bashing. We were raised on Jack Fleming. We were raised on the arms of Jeff Hostettler and Major Harris. We were raised on the exploits of Jerry West, Sam Huff and Hot Rod Hundley. We were raised on the coaching of Don Nehlen. We were raised on the three pillars, Friday night high school football, Saturday afternoon WVU football and Sunday morning church. If you have a problem with that, kiss my hillbilly ass! Whew, I feel better already...