Southwestern Christian University this week hired Dave Bliss to be the head coach of its basketball team. A small 800-student school located in Bethany, Oklahoma, and playing in NAIA, it's a long way from the bright lights of the big-time NCAA. And being away from the bright lights is probably the best thing for Bliss. But holy crap, some school hired Dave Bliss to be its head coach...
Some of you might remember that Bliss literally almost killed two major conference NCAA basketball programs (he paid SMU's Jon Koncak while Koncak was a player, but the NCAA took pity as the SMU football team was dealing with that whole death penalty at the time.) He's been living under a ten-year show cause letter from the NCAA based on his despicable and disgusting actions while head coach at Baylor. The private high school he coached after his Baylor departure changed leagues rather than face punishment for Bliss's actions while coach. And now he's back as a head coach on the college level.
Southwestern Christian states that it believes in redemption and that Bliss has transformed his life -- never mind that Bliss was a supposed Christian before his big fall from grace. But that's all in the past because the school believes he deserves a second chance.
Do you know who really deserves a second chance? Patrick Dennehy. Dennehy, a former player for Bliss at Baylor, deserves a second chance at redemption. But he's not going to get one, because he's dead. Dennehy was murdered by Carlton Dotson, another player of Bliss's at Baylor.
When the NCAA began sniffing around (because one player killing another player is probably something that should be investigated), it started by asking how Dennehy paid his tuition because Baylor was out of scholarships. Afraid that the truth would be disclosed, Bliss ordered everyone involved with the team to say that Dennehy was a drug dealer and that he paid his tuition out of that income. The truth was a bit more simple: It was paid by Bliss in a clear violation of NCAA rules. Do you know who else isn't getting a second chance: Abar Rouse. Rouse, one of Bliss's assistants, was disgusted by Bliss's actions and taped conversations of Bliss going into the "drug dealer" strategy. Rouse eventually turned these tapes over to a newspaper, and it all went public. The NCAA came down hard on Bliss, rightfully, but Rouse, the man who revealed these disgusting actions, had been blackballed by big-time college athletics. He worked for a few years as an $8,000-a-year grad assistant for Division II Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls before giving up on his dream.
Maybe Rouse just wasn't Christian enough for a second chance. Except of course he deliberately sought the job at Baylor not because of Dave Bliss but because he was a Christian, and it was his Christian beliefs that compelled him to tape Bliss. So maybe it's just because he hasn't begged for forgiveness, unlike Bliss, who has done the whole church-redemption-tour thing.
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Any normal person might be thinking: Why should Rouse have to beg for forgiveness? Didn't he do the right thing? A normal person would think that. But apparently not the natural leader of men, purveyor of moralistic truth that is Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski: "If one of my assistants would tape every one of my conversations without me knowing it, there's no way he would be on my staff," he told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" several years ago.
Rouse was also condemned by the paragon of moral fortitude that is Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, who also went after Rouse on ESPN. Of course, Krzyzewski allowed one of his players to stick around on the roster for a year after learning of sexual assault allegations against the player. Boeheim was just penalized by the NCAA for running a program that ran wild over NCAA rules, lacking the most basic institutional controls since at least 2001. But hey, at least they didn't rat out a coach who lied about his dead player being a drug dealer.
So it's not Rouse who gets the second chance. It's the guy who paid players, repeatedly broke the rules and who smeared the reputation of a dead man in an attempt to sidestep the NCAA. And of course, there's no second chance for Dennehy, because he's dead.
So here's the thing, Southwestern Christian University: Is Dave Bliss really the man you want leading your students? A serial rule breaker who smeared the reputation of a dead man? Then again, maybe Southwestern Christian deserves some credit. After all, it's not like the school hired one of the bastions of hypocritical morality like Krzyzewski or Boeheim.