(Expect things to be a little quieter until the New Year where season reviews, awards, and other goodies will pop up.)
-The Belmont imbroglio involving the firing/parting of the ways by mutual consent of former coach Lisa Howe continues to rage on (although you wouldn’t know it by the flaccid college soccer media’s typical non-reaction). Howe was forced out of her post after coming out to her players that she was gay without the “permission” of the school who failed to answer multiple requests from Howe for permission to disclose the information to her students because her partner was beginning to show signs of pregnancy as the pair are expecting a child in the months to come.
Particularly galling was Belmont AD Mike Strickland’s contention that Howe’s termination came about as a result of the violation of the school’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when team captain Sari Lin says she was given a different story:
He said you can hide your sexuality, but you can’t hide a baby. He pretty much told me that once the baby was born she was going to get fired anyway, so it’s better to do it sooner than later.
It was just one of many gaffes from Strickland who has had a busy few weeks trying to extricate his foot from his mouth as players continue to relay the string of lies and doublespeak the school’s AD has been running rampant with in private meetings with the team and in other circumstances. It’s quite likely that Strickland had expected things to blow over quietly, but enraged players, parents, and alumni have jumped to Howe’s defense with a series of protests while also voicing their displeasure at the Christian school’s lack of equitable treatment in their hiring policy.
Meanwhile, Howe has conducted herself with great dignity considering the circumstances of her exit and has responded positively to non-discrimination statements by Belmont president Bob Fisher over the past few days while speaking through her attorney. The same really can’t be said of some of the not-so-brave souls commenting anonymously on The Tennesseean‘s coverage of the story or on vile cesspools of the dull witted like the erstwhile Georgia Soccer Forum. The crux of their argument seems to be that bigotry by private organizations is just fine (just make sure you have it in writing first!).
SI writer Jeff Pearlman (of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won fame) has written an article savaging the university for their treatment of Howe that is a must read for anyone interested in the situation.
-It’s the offseason, which means it’s time for lots of disenchanted collegiate players to find new homes through the transfer process. There just aren’t too many that are going about it in such a public manner as now ex-NC State midfielder Kara Blosser is. In a truly bizarre piece, Blosser speaks out about how she wants to compete for titles now while making it abundantly clear that she thinks NC State won’t be in a position to do so before she graduates. Blosser’s newfound public mercenary ways don’t seem to have dissuaded teams from pursuing the talented midfielder, the free agent mentioning visits to Georgia and Ohio State while also dropping in West Virginia and Notre Dame as possible destinations. Blosser may find it easy to find a new home and set of teammates but also seems to care little about the bridges she’s burning on the path to that new team.
-There have been a handful of job openings and searches since the season closed for many teams some weeks ago, but few have been draped with the cloak of buffoonery that has enveloped the Clemson job hunt. Once a reasonably formidable program in the uber-tough ACC, the Tigers were driven into the ground by ex-coach Hershey Strosberg in three seasons, having lost twenty-six straight conference matches amid reports of locker room unrest. The Tigers had earmarked Memphis coach Brooks Monaghan, Hofstra coach Simon Riddiough, and ex-Georgia coach and current Rollins coach Patrick Baker on their shortlist.
Of course Clemson being Clemson, first choice Monaghan turned the job down, followed in short shrift by Riddiough. The Tigers apparently had cooled on Baker as well, meaning Clemson were now on their fourth choice. UNCG coach Eddie Radwanski, considered a natural choice three years ago before the shock decision to appoint Strosberg, seems to also have passed on the job. Which means now Clemson may be on their fifth choice for the job.
The major hangup seems to be the school’s insistence in only offering a two year contract under the faultless logic that a mess that was three years in the making will only take two years to clean up. In the toughest league in the country. With virtually no depth on the roster. Tiger fans and alumni have already been wringing their hands as the days roll on with no announcement. The position still being vacant through the holiday season will likely be seen as another disaster for a program that’s become used to them in recent years.