One Man To Blame In This Tennessee, Schiano Mess

Monday, November 27, 2017

I've never seen anything like what we witnessed yesterday. In fact, I don't think anyone has ever seen anything like it. When I first heard Greg Schiano’s name come up in this search, I couldn't believe it. But this post isn't about football. It's not about what he's done or hasn't done as a coach. It's not about X's and O's. It's not even about Schiano.  

This is about Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie. This is about one man's arrogance and ineptitude. I know there are others who likely played a large role in this (looking at you Haslam) but ultimately, this comes back on one man. Every failure in life is a leadership failure. 

Today's day and age, the idea that you are "innocent until proven guilty" is a completely unrealistic and naive narrative. It's simply not true. It's not fair, but it's reality. When you talk about child sexual molestation, or covering that up, that idea is even further from the truth. I don't know what Greg Schiano witnessed. I don't know what he covered up. I won't speculate on that. It's not fair to him. But the reality is that, under oath in a court of law, he was accused of witnessing Jerry Sandusky molesting a child in a shower. Schiano himself was never prosecuted, not because he was proven innocent, but because the case was purely based on hearsay, with the absence of proof.  

If you are an athletic director, or anyone tasked with the responsibility of hiring someone to work with youth, especially hiring someone who will be the face of your program, this goes well beyond a red flag. You don't touch it. Period. When it comes to an accusation of this grave nature, you don't vet or investigate to find out if it's true. You stay away from it. If I'm hiring a counselor to work with kids at camp, or if I'm hiring someone to babysit my children, it's not sufficient for me to say "there's no proof." It's not worth the risk, regardless of how glowing a character reference someone like Bill Belichik or Urban Meyer may give. If Schiano is innocent, and he likely is, I truly feel sorry for him. I hate it for him. But I wouldn't touch him, or anyone from that Penn State staff, with a 10 foot pole. The protection of kids isn't worth compromising on. It's never worth the risk, no matter how small that risk may seem. It can ruin you. It's toxic.  

The fact that John Currie couldn't see that tells me everything I need to know. He is either grossly incompetent and naive, or he's arrogant beyond anything I've seen. I lean toward the second option. This is a man who took on this task without a search firm, who vacationed in the Bahamas last week. From all accounts, he's never consulted with guys like Phillip Fulmer. He's dug his own grave. And I'm not sure what his next move is. I can't imagine a coach wanting to work for him. I can't imagine him having the respect of anyone in, or around, the Tennessee program. You can put the blame on the fans if you so choose, but I put the blame squarely on the man who thought this was a good idea from the start. It's your job to anticipate these things and to consider every possible reaction. When you go it alone in life, and cut out people who would help bring you to the best possible decision, you are destined to fail.  

From day one of this search, I've said Currie would either come out of this a hero or he'd look like a fool. Today, he looks like a fool. And in the process, he's made the university look foolish. 

Sad day for all involved. 

Samuel Pineda



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