LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Discussing four-day old Tweets is typically an air ball in the toxic world of social media. The conversation has accelerated, exploded, subsided and moved on.
I'm making an exception for one of my favorite guys in college basketball — Fran Fraschilla, a savvy and unfiltered ESPN analyst who once served as the head coach at New Mexico, St. John’s and Manhattan.
On Sunday night, Louisiana State announced the school had reinstated basketball coach Will Wade.
On the brink of being voted coach of the year in the Southeastern Conference, Wade had been suspended for the final three weeks of LSU's Sweet Sixteen season after Yahoo Sports reported Wade said some embarrassing and alarming things while talking about recruiting in a conversation recorded on a federal wiretap.
Not an NCAA investigation. A federal wiretap.
Now Wade was back. LSU administrators said the coach had answered all their questions and denied all wrong-doing. Nothing to see here. Back to recruiting and (expletive) strong-ass offers.
Before Wade could roll out the first rack of basketballs, Fraschilla Tweeted this:
All of you college coaches who have had your heads down during these FBI investigations, you can officially commence cheating. 😉👍🏼🏀— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) April 15, 2019
For me, that was an XXL LOL.
Textbook Fran. He's worked the game. He's called the game. Won in the game. Lost games and jobs. He's seen — and smelled — the way the game is played.
Fraschilla's Brooklyn bluntness always shines through his DNA. In a world of happy talkers, Fraschilla gets to the point.
"I don’t know," Fraschilla said. "Maybe he was talking about some strong-ass offerings on the basketball training table or the chance to play in a strong-ass league."
Maybe he was. But by the time Fraschilla and I finished our conversation Wednesday afternoon, Wade was still in charge of the Tigers' basketball program and Joe Alleva, one of the guys who suspended him, was no longer in charge of the LSU athletic department.
On Wednesday, Alleva, not Wade, was reassigned.
After the initial blast of news and harsh national publicity forced LSU (and perhaps the SEC) to make certain that a coach saying strange things on a federal wiretap was unable to command the stage during the SEC and NCAA Tournaments, LSU is back in the game with Wade.
"People who know me know that I love the game and that I can be snarky," Fraschilla said. "I can also be a little facetious. Sometimes I see things that are disheartening and I’m going to talk about it."
At last count, Fraschilla’s Tweet earned 827 likes (including one from me) and 151 re-Tweets (ditto).
"I got a bunch of calls and texts from head coaches and assistant coaches, encouraging me to keep it up," Fraschilla said. "Maybe 30 or 40 of those, 10 from head coaches. They loved it. They told me not to stop."
They just didn’t love it enough to retweet it or like it or craft their own tweets of support. Fraschilla told me the names of four head coaches who texted their encouragement but asked me not to use them.
Two have coached in the Final Four during their careers. Two have made it as far as the Elite Eight.
When I checked Fraschilla's likes, I found Jim Sarra, director of athletics for the University of Illinois -- Springfield. But no Power Five ADs.
When I checked his re-Tweets, I found several people who described themselves as Louisville fans as well as Laurence Williams, the head basketball coach at Monsignor Kelly High School.
No Final Four coaches.
No Elite Eight coaches.
Even with additional information from the federal government, the situation has barely budged from the one I lamented last fall:
Coaches who are in the field and know the nonsense going on are still too timid to speak the way that Fraschilla speaks.
"It's disheartening to see guys who try to do it the right way get fired for not winning enough games," Fraschilla said.
Fraschilla resigned his job at New Mexico after three seasons in 2002 because he did not win enough games. Fraschilla said that he cannot say that he or his staff never broke any NCAA rules. The rulebook is thick and complex. Rules might have been broken.
"But I never paid any players," he said. "Not a dime. Did guys ever ask for things? Sometimes in recruiting, guys look at you like they think you're an ATM machine.
"But I never paid a player. If you're paying somebody, I don't see how you can coach them because they have you where they want you. They’re in control."
Fraschilla said his friends in the coaching business, especially the ones who sent him text messages Sunday night, agreed.
But they need to start saying it on the record.
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