Wally Judge Supports Mike Rice
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Two Rutgers basketball players on Mike Rice's team say the fired coach wasn't the abusive tyrant he appears to be on a widely viewed video that ultimately cost him his job.
"You can't let those individual moments define what he was," junior forward Wally Judge said during a telephone interview Thursday. "In my past two years, me being an older guy and being under other coaches, I have grown from the moment I stepped in these doors, not only as a player but also as a person because of how he has treated me."
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Sophomore forward Austin Johnson agreed.
"He did a lot for us off the court, academically, socially," he said during a separate telephone conversation. "I have to say I enjoyed my time, even it was an emotional rollercoaster."
Rice was fired Wednesday, the day after a video aired on ESPN showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs.
"I feel if people had a chance to see the other portions of practice, or had been at practice, their judgment would not be as severe," Johnson said. "I am not saying what he did wasn't wrong, because I do believe it was wrong. But it is also tough because it was a highlight reel of his worst moments.
"I never expected for this to escalate as fast as it did," Johnson said. "We have to deal with this and it's new for a lot of the younger guys."
Judge believes some of those moments come across worse on camera than they really were.
"Honestly, a lot of the things that have been seen have been taken out of context. A lot of things that aren't seen are when we grab him and kid around," Judge said. "Like I said before, when people ask me why did I play for him, I told them `He's a players' coach.'
"Mike was almost like a big brother. He would get on the floor with us and go through drills with us. He made it fun. When you have a big brother-type of figure, you know you can play around like that. I have grabbed Mike and put him in a headlock and we joke around and kid. That was the type of relationship he built with his players."
Pitt guard Travon Woodall also defended Rice, who recruited him when he was an assistant coach there.
"They are going at my man Mike Rice too hard," Woodall tweeted. "He's the reason I came to Pitt."
Woodall later added Rice is "not the only coach to put his hands on a player, or talk the way he did."
Rice left Pitt to coach at Robert Morris before landing at Rutgers, where his record was 44-51 over three seasons. He posted a 16-38 mark in the Big East, after going 73-31 in three seasons at Robert Morris. The Scarlet Knights went 15-16 this season and 5-13 in the league.
Rice was hired by Rutgers in May 2010, and he brought assistant Jimmy Martelli with him from Robert Morris. On Thursday, Martelli resigned.
In November, when athletic director Tim Pernetti first saw the tape, Rice was suspended three games for improper conduct, fined $75,000 and required to take anger management classes.
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Still, Judge insisted Rice wasn't a "villain."
"He wasn't a guy we hated or despised," Judge said. "After practice, we would all go in the locker room and laugh. It was never a sad face or a hung head. What he did was he separated the court and he separated life. When we were on the court, we were on the court and locked in. That's why you see so many intense moments because he was so locked in on turning this program around. When we got in the locker room we were a family. We laughed."
Johnson hopes Rutgers' next coach can bring success to a program that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1991.
"I feel like winning solves everything," he said. "If we can get someone in and change the culture, I feel like all this stuff will be forgotten."
Said Judge: "We don't want a white-collar, clean-cut guy. We want somebody who understands us and will push us every day, like Rice did."
No idea how anyone, rough around the edges or not, could tolerate the treatment Rice and Martelli showed the players at Rutgers...Wally Judge looks like a completely moronic fool saying this...
Imagine someone saying "Oh, well you know...Sandusky was a really good guy, you cant let those few incidents where he raped little kids define him...I grew as a man under him"
It pains me to say but this is a guy I grew up loving to watch play. If his motive behind this tape is because he was salty about being fired and was looking for settlement money then I dont respect that. People are calling him a man of courage because of this...but if he knew about it and never planned to say anything until he was wrongfully dismissed then I dont know what that has to do with courage. Seems more cowardly to me. Maybe I am missing something here?
From my understanding of the whole situation, Eric Murdock was released from his job AFTER he reported the incident to the AD. Atleast that's what went across the bottom of my television on ESPN. At first I thought he was just salty about being fired too.
He wanted settlement money because he was fired for unlawful reasons. The reason he was fired was because he sent to the AD about Mike Rice's treatment of the players. That's when they decided he could no longer be on the staff. It was like a 'We dont want you here because you snitched" type of thing. Thats when Murdoch threatened to file a lawsuit if they didnt reach the $350,000 agreement.
So that's why people are seeing it as an act of courage.
thanks for clearing that up, like I said, I may have been missing something. I thought Murdock decided to do all this AFTER he was fired. what I heard was he was fired because he disobeyed Rice and went to his son's game or something and Rice needed him to be somewhere else. Murdock went to the game or function anyway and Rice dismissed him. then he went on this campaign to bring Rice down.
Trying to motivate a player by poking him in the butt, and trying to motivate a player by throwing a ball at him is two totally different things my guy. NO COMPARISON.
Even though Mike Rice may have been wrong, I had coaches who would motivate his players by getting alittle physical with them and more times than not it worked, I just think the public eye doesn't want to see things like that happen.
I have had coaches get physical. Its not unusual. The problem with Rice is, he crossed lines. Throwing a hard chest pass to a guy who isnt paying attention is totally acceptable I feel, but throwing the ball at the back of someone's head is not. Profanity and using vulgarity to make light of a situation is not uncommon either...however singling someone out and calling them a f*g is not too commonplace that I know of. Its like talking to your children, you can say something they did was dumb or stupid (the act of it) but its not good to call the child dumb or stupid. I actually dont have a problem with a coach getting physical to a degree and verbally lambasting a player. Its just that Rice was over the top and just took most of his actions too far be it verbal or physical. At a point what he is doing is more counterproductive than productive.