Here’s the kind of newspaper column that really irritates me…
On the heels of Mack Rhoades’ decision to bolt from the athletic director’s job at the University of Missouri and take the same post at Baylor University, The Star’s Sam Mellinger posted a column slamming Rhoades as an abject failure during his 15 months at Mizzou. (Rhoades had come from the University of Houston, so it’s not too surprising that he would return to Texas.)
Mellinger is a pretty good columnist, but, unfortunately, I’ve seen indications of slippage. For example, he has offered precious little insight into the Royals’ swoon this season. And he doesn’t seem to be writing as much as he used to…I hope he’s OK. If he’s got some problem — physical, personal, family or other — I would profusely apologize. In the meantime, though, I can only go by what I see.
Let me explain why today’s column galls…In the seventh paragraph of his column about Mack Rhoades, Mellinger dropped this bomb:
“Nobody thought Rhoades was a long-term fit at Mizzou, and he did very little in his 15 months on the job to endear himself to the university or its sports fans.”
Really? Well now, that’s fine and dandy but, as far as I can tell, at no time during Rhoades’ layover in Columbia did Mellinger or anyone else at The Star suggest Rhoades wasn’t at MU for the long haul or that he hadn’t endeared himself to the school and its fans.
I read (present tense) the sports columnists faithfully — the rest of the section, unfortunately, has thinned and slipped appreciably — and I don’t recall one negative column about Rhoades from any of the three columnists who would be in a position to write biting commentary.
Besides Mellinger, the other columnists with standing to take on Rhoades would be Vahe Gregorian, who has a long history of covering MU sports here and at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and college sports columnist Blair Kerkhoff, who would have had any number of opportunities to analyze Rhoades’ performance.
But nothing…And yet, today, out of the blue clear sky (thank you, George Strait), Mellinger makes a grand pronouncement that the guy who treaded water in front of his waterproof goggles the last year or so is a numskull.
Here’s more retrospective insight from Mellinger…
“He (Rhoades) earned a reputation as a poor communicator, both internally and externally, which limited his ability to solve or at times even identify problems.”
…I sure wish somebody had clued us in on that. By God, that’s interesting! (and would have been more interesting several months ago).
“He was hired as a fund-raising savant, but while alumni pride can be seen with the academic side setting an annual donations record, Rhoades has frustrated many by essentially stalling the renovation project at the south end of Faurot Field.”
…Well, I’ll be go to hell — as a friend of mine used to say. The revelation about Rhoades stalling the Faurot Field project is worthy of being carried down a mountaintop on stone tablets, although I would have settled for seeing it in black and white in The Kansas City Star.
“If it’s remembered at all, Rhoades’ tenure will mostly be marked by the football team’s strike and subsequent administrative shakeup, a continued slide for men’s basketball and the mess around the softball team — that last one was an unforced error and could’ve been easily avoided by a more capable leader.”
Now, the investigation of softball coach Ehren Earleywhine, who allegedly bullied and mistreated players, has been in the sports pages quite a bit. But I haven’t read any suggestion in The Star that Rhoades has somehow botched the investigation.
I would have appreciated somebody at The Star weighing in on Rhodes in regard to the Earleywhine investigation. That would have made a compelling column a few months ago. With The Star, though, sometimes you just gotta be happy getting “late-breaking” revelations.