ESPN And CNN In Death-Cage Opinion Brawl Over Yates High School

Yates High School's basketball team continues its roll to a state championship, a role that's included some very large blow-outs of over-matched opponents

It's attracted nationwide attention, and now two of the biggest brand names on television are getting into it.

First came Rick Reilly, writing for ESPN The Magazine about Yates coach Greg Wise. The headline was "Somebody Stop This Man," and it didn't get better from there:

I am not generally a spiteful man. I pat toddlers' haircuts, donate to the glee club and mostly greet the world with open arms.

But when I think of coach Greg Wise of Houston's Yates High School, I become darker than Johnny Cash's closet.

The things I would like to do to Coach Wise would curl an executioner's toes. For starters, I'd like to see him dipped in seal butter and dropped into a polar bear's cage.

Coach Wise is the hammerhead who believes it's his right to toast other basketball teams by 100 points. Sometimes more. He thumped Lee High School this season by 135 points, 170-35. Wise's team was up at the half, 100-12. And full-court pressed to the very end!

Wise is to sportsmanship what tsunamis are to beach chairs. So far this season, he's beaten teams by 135, 115, 99 (twice), 98, 90 and 88 points. Trying to get to 100 points in a crushing of Westbury, his players intentionally fouled to stop the clock.

I'd like to clock him.

Reilly's remarks didn't sit well with CNN's Roland Martin.

Martin, a 1987 Yates grad who is now one of the cable station's most prominent political analysts, took to CNN's opinion pages to blast back:

Reilly uses his column to personally attack Greg Wise, the boys head basketball coach at Jack Yates High School in Houston, Texas. In the despicable piece, Reilly tries to link Wise with a fight in the parking lot after Yates destroyed archrival Booker T. Washington. Apparently shots were fired, and in Reilly's world, it's all tied to Yates beating them 132-68.

So I wonder if Reilly blames Gary Williams for Maryland upsetting No. 4 ranked Duke, this leading to fans going bonkers -- some say riot -- and 28 people getting arrested.

I've seen folks fight after one-point losses; that's just what happens when dumb folks talk trash in the parking lot. They either duke it out with fists, or these days, pull out a gun to make their point.

Reilly then has the gall to say that the school district in Houston needs to intervene to "stop" Wise, even suggesting that Yates Principal Ronald Mumphery should "grow a pair." So what do you propose Rick? Tell him not to blow other teams out? So the next time we see a 59-0 or 77-0 score in football, are we to scold the coach and tell him he will be suspended if his teams keeps scoring points?

Martin does note his prejudice in the matter, noting he's an alumnus.

"Yates has a great group of kids (I've met most of them)," he writes. "They study, are polite, don't get into trouble and are all-around good kids.

At the end of the day, they are damn good and folks like Reilly just don't like it."

Next: NBC and Sports Illustrated debate Westbury football.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly