|Sex, booze, gambling and coaching|
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist
Jim Harrick must be kicking himself right about now. Georgia got rid of him as coach and he didn't get to have any fun at all first.
Unlike Mike Price, Larry Eustachy and Rick Neuheisel, Harrick lost his coaching job due to boring old academic fraud. No strippers, no kegs, no drunk sorority girls, no NCAA tournament pools, no Crisco parties. Heck, he didn't even get to shout, "How 'Bout Dem Dawgs?'' during a lap dance at the Gold Club.
First, Iowa State suspended and later canned Eustachy for drinking with students on other campuses. Then Alabama fired Price before he ever coached a game there over a drinking binge with strippers. And now the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that the Huskies will fire Neuheisel for betting $6,400 in NCAA basketball tournament pools.
Sex, booze and gambling. Good Lord. You read the stories and the first question is, What, no assault rifles? Sex, booze and gambling. Suddenly, shipping a FedEx envelope full of cash to a recruit seems positively old-school. Sex, booze and gambling. Up to the dismissals, I kept expecting someone to place all three coaches on double-secret probation.
A stripper named Destiny, a winning NCAA bracket and your two best friends, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam? Those aren't fireable offenses, that's Bill Clinton's idea of a perfect weekend.
Some see the coaches as ridiculously reckless for risking their jobs with such wild behavior. I don't see it that way, though. After all, why should the players have all the fun in recruiting violations? I mean, if you're going to get fired, wouldn't you rather have brought some pleasure into your own life instead of merely providing it for some prima donna who's just going to sign with UCLA anyway?
The question is not whether any of the three coaches should have been fired or what they were thinking. Rather, it's which coach enjoyed himself more on the way to getting fired: Neuheisel, Price or Eustachy? Let's take a look at the film.
Pros: He played in a celebrity golf tournament. Away from his wife, he prowled the local strip clubs, drank himself silly and spent the night in his hotel room with at least one stripper (and possibly two). One stripper claims she shouted "Roll Tide!!!" during "aggressive sex," to which Price replied, "It's rolling, baby, it's rolling!" Sex, booze and free golf? You can't beat that. At least not in Tuscaloosa.
Cons: One stripper charged more than $1,000 for room service to his credit card. Price says he can't remember anything he did. And did you get a look at Destiny? Ouch.
Rick Neuheisel, Washington
Larry Eustachy, Iowa State
So who ranks No. 1 in the Page 2/BCS poll? I'm eliminating Eustachy due to relative lack of strength of schedule. Being a Big Man on Campus is nice; but when you're on someone else's turf as Eustachy was, you better at least be wearing a toga.
That narrows it down to Price and Neuheisel.
So the two coaches at last year's season-ending Apple Cup game between Washington and Washington State are apparently both getting fired in disgrace before the end of the school year. It's amazing to me that the reasons they're getting the axe have nothing to do with an athlete, recruiting, academics or a losing record. But anyone who knows the Washington-Washington State rivalry should find their behavior reassuringly appropriate. Price, like all good Cougars, was nailed after a night of binge drinking and cheap sex. A Husky through and through, Neuheisel just concentrated on the money.
Price may have a ready-made pickup line for his next night on the town -- "How would you like to order room service with the only undefeated coach in Alabama history?" - but he doesn't have a job or even the memories from a night of passion and sexual fantasy. There isn't much point in having a night to remember if you forget it the very next morning.
Neuheisel, meanwhile, can remember what he did. He can also wave $12,000 dollar bills in front of his friends' faces, wiggle his rear and shout "Who's got March Madness now!!!"
Besides, he doesn't need to worry. He's negotiating a big severance deal that should take care of him very nicely. And anyone who can pick two NCAA tournament winners in a row clearly has a very marketable job skill.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.