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Dead Man Walking

February 18, 2008

Saturday night, I was a torn individual. I watched the Indiana/Michigan St. game, and I saw Kelvin Sampson get all emotional. I watched as the outcome of the game became less and less unknown...kind of like the outcome of the investigation that is set to wrap up at the end of this week. It was like Sampson knew what was coming, and he was taking that moment to celebrate and thank the kids who mean so much to him. It was a very emotional, very touching moment.

And I was torn.

On one hand, here is a man who is an excellent coach and, from most reports, a very nice, well-respected person (taking the NCAA violations away for a moment). It was never more evident that he loves his players and his players love him back as it was at the end of the IU/MSU game. I felt bad for wanting him fired last week. How can you put such a nice guy out on the street?

On the other hand, he was an idiot with the phone at Oklahoma. He brought that with him to Indiana and go pinched again for more impermissable phone calls. His graduation rates are dismal (and that's probably an understatement). And, according to the NCAA, he lied to both them and Indiana.

Let's get one thing in the clear, here. Hubert Davis, during the pregame, made an excellent point: he didn't pay his players, he didn't bribe them with cars, he didn't bribe them with bags full of money. He participated in three-way calls, which are not impermissible by the NCAA. They were for Sampson as part of his probation. His violations were minor, at best, but the NCAA termed them major. I think, honestly, the major issue here is that Sampson was boneheaded about it.

Seeing the way that he was celebrating a big win--possibly the biggest of his stint at IU--with his players and their response to him made my sour thoughts about him sweeten. The chant by the student section at the end of the game further softened my stance. Now, I'm unsure of what should be done.

I think, possibly, the best thing would be for Sampson to resign, effective at the end of the season, kind of like how Davis did it. There doesn't need to be a lot of turmoil. There doesn't need to be a lot of drama. This way, we know how things are going to end and IU can get the jump on a new coaching search and possibly salvage what could very well be a very special season. IU should also do the honorable thing and release their recruits from their binding letters of intent. I'm sure Bruce Weber will be all over that, if it happens.

Again, I don't know. This is just my opinion. But, I do know this: however this whole mess plays out, it is possibly one of the saddest endings to what could have been a promising career.

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