Rugby World Cup
This Week's Issue
Life of Reilly
SI for Women
CNN/SI - TV
Golf Pro Shop
MLB Gear Store
NFL Gear Store
SI FOR KIDS
Barnett’s bad week gets worse
Posted: Thursday December 03, 1998 08:54 PM
By Brian Hamilton, Special to CNNSI.com
EVANSTON, Illinois -- Gary Barnett's week reads like a trip through concentric circles of football hell. Start with a flurry of media lashings over a perceived flirtation with Oklahoma's head coaching job, then add the Armani phalanx of Justice Department and NCAA officials that on Thursday issued indictments for federal perjury charges to four of Barnett's former players. Convicted felons do less hard time than Northwestern's football coach has endured since the season ended, and they stand a better chance of time off for good behavior.
And you thought his greatest challenge was playing Frank Lloyd Wright for a dormant Northwestern program. As it turns out, there is a crack in the foundation, one that may give Barnett's terminally blond hair a gray scale. Players -- Barnett's players, though not recruited by him -- allegedly wagering on their own games, and what's more, allegedly throwing those games to win the bet. Suddenly, reconstructing a football program looks like building a sandcastle. Tough to say which washes away more easily.
Northwestern has seen dire times before; the program practically wrote the book. Before Barnett, the only thing the Wildcats were consistently good at was being bad. This, however, makes 30-game losing streaks look like pregame stretching. There is a new low in Northwestern football's storied history of lows, and every single person associated with the program would swap a precious Big Ten win to avoid this, if they had any from this past season to trade. Next gambling scandal that pops up, you'll sooner than later hear the name Northwestern University, the ironic poster child for the NCAA's omnipresent gambling issues.
While U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar and Co. ambled to the podium Thursday afternoon wearing somber black suits and even gloomier expressions, it was hardly a funeral procession. Bill Saum, the NCAA's Director of Agent and Gambling Activities, said that there's no evidence that would spark sanctions against the university.
But when the indictments against former Northwestern basketball players came down, backlash was limited by the fact that not one coach remained from the 1994 team. Barnett, though, can't shrug it off as an incident on someone else's watch.
Put those Barnett hallelujahs on hold, especially after a 3-9 season capped by a gambling scandal. Northwestern athletic director Rick Taylor erased from official school records the names of those found guilty in the basketball point- shaving investigation, and should he hold form, the White-Out will reappear if the football quartet is found guilty as well.
Wish it were that easy, this time.
Brian Hamilton is Deputy Sports Editor at the Daily Northwestern.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.