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Stretching the Field: Rice deserved to be burned by Rutgers

By Shawn Clarke, Contributing Editor

(Sports Network) - There is nothing more irritating than a fake tough guy.

They're entrenched in all levels of sports, ranging from players to coaches.

Having problems with a bully or an antagonistic person? Confront the agitator or simply pop 'em in the nose.

That is what some of the Rutgers men's basketball players should have done the first time former coach Mike Rice spit an insulting remark or violently tossed a basketball in the their direction.

But cooler heads prevailed since no incident occurred in terms of player retaliation, and wisely so in this day and age with everyone and their grandmother out to make a quick buck in the judicial system.

The Rutgers family rid itself of further headaches Wednesday by giving Rice the boot one day after ESPN released video of the coach's over-the-top coaching style, and then it went viral. Initially, Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti suspended Rice three games back in December and fined him $50,000. Seems like a slap on the wrist for Rice when he was slapping his players around.

And Rice isn't an intimidating guy by any means.

A squirrely man at best, Rice may have believed his military-type approach would sink in with the players. Did he think he was Bobby Knight? If so, Rice is not only out of line but delusional.

Former Rutgers director of player development Eric Murdock was the whistleblower on Rice's irrational practice antics.

"Unbelievable to me that someone would feel that technique can be successful," Murdock told ESPN. "To witness that video and see your coach physically putting his hands on players, physically kicking players, firing balls at players at point-blank range ... the verbal abuse, the belittling. Yeah, I was in total shock that this guy wasn't fired."

Murdock got his wish Wednesday.

The former basketball star put the wheels in motion late in 2012, leading to the suspension and hefty fine of Rice. Murdock should be deemed a hero for his actions and college officials around the country should take note. Raise your hand if a quick response would have curbed Jerry Sandusky's disgusting act early on at Penn State.

Pernetti may have acted quickly in handing down a penalty. What's bothersome is how he felt the original punishment would suffice since Rice was remorseful and confronted the issue by seeking help. That's usually what happens to people convicted of felonies or misdemeanors per order by a lawyer.

"I am responsible for the decision to attempt a rehabilitation of coach Rice," Pernetti said. "Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community."

Many believe Pernetti should follow Rice out the door as well. Rice did say he was deeply sorry for his conduct, but it's too little too late to repent.

Imagine a professor at a university tossing a book or chalk at a student. Can you conceive the backlash that would result from that? Did Rice think he was Rip Torn's character Patches O' Houlihan from the movie "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story."

"If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball."

Coaches usually inherit carte blanche with their respective teams, but when it goes too far, actions must be taken.

It sets a bad example for prospective recruits and puts the university in a poor light. Coaches around the country have come into harsh situations and stemmed the tide, and it will happen again.

Some Rutgers recruits have already jumped ship from the Piscataway, N.J., campus in pursuit of greener, and less abusive, pastures.

As Rutgers begins its search for a new men's basketball coach, more extensive background checks on style and behavior are imperative. If proper hiring tactics are not met, the next man in charge may not be as fortunate player redemption-wise as Rice was on his way out.

04/03 12:20:57 ET