Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Thinking out loud: Mark Whipple's mistake doesn't define who he is

John Rooke
October 05, 2018 - 3:43 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering if October can qualify as the best sports month of the year…

  • Mark Whipple’s suspension at UMass is a sure sign that political correctness continues to run amok. Context people, context.  Consider what he said – which had absolutely zero to do with sexual assault. A poor choice of words?  Absolutely.

 

  • But let’s not lose our minds over this.  And the school should be ashamed of their actions, but it isn’t a surprise they reacted the way they did.  Way to stand behind your man.

 

  • I’ve known Coach Whipple for more than 20 years.  Honest, good coach, a leader.  He made a mistake.  One mistake does not define a person, or their character.  I feel quite certain we all have made mistakes in life, professional or otherwise.  We’re all held to standards we can’t possibly meet, because we all make mistakes.

 

  • Consider this adage – “those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”  Which means “It is uncouth, hypocritical, or unacceptable to criticize or judge other people for faults or misdeeds of which one is also guilty.”  If you find Coach Whipple’s words unconscionable, do step away from the glass behind you.

 

  • URI’s Rams are ranked 17th nationally in the FCS heading into this weekend’s Governors Cup grudge match with Brown.  The Bears are 1-2, having beaten Georgetown last week, while the Rams are 3-1 after winning at Harvard.  The Crimson beat Brown 31-17.

 

  • Which means zero.  It’s the 103rd time for the two state rivals to meet on a football field dating back to 1909, and Brown holds a decided (73-27-2) advantage.  But in the Cup era, it’s just a 19-17 margin for the Bears.  And this one is at Meade Stadium in Kingston, RI. 

 

  • It says here URI’s revived passing game (shades of Air Ehrhardt?) might be a bit too much for the Bears to handle this time around, but then again, rivalries have a distinct way of making overconfidence disappear rather quickly. 

 

  • 3-1 Bryant is back on the field Saturday after a bye-week, playing at Duquesne.  The Bulldogs are 15th nationally in FCS scoring, at 37 points per game.

 

  • In the second half of the Patriots’ conquest of the Colts Thursday night, it sure looked like the team’s 3rd game played over a 12-day span. 

 

  • Andrew (keep wanting to call him Oliver) Luck sliced his way through the middle of the NE defense like a knife slices through butter.  Wonder what wunderkind Patrick Mahomes might do next week?

 

  • Some rivalry, Indy.  The last time the Colts beat the Patriots was Nov. 15th, 2009 – eight straight wins now for New England.  A lopsided rivalry, maybe.  The Pats even had an edge when Peyton Manning was running the show.

 

  • Think Josh McDaniels wishes he could have a do-over?

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but it had been 31 games since Brady, Gronk, Julian Edelman and James White were all on the field together in a game that means something.  Which means something.

 

  • It’s time to go, Thursday Night Football.  It won’t happen, unless the players stage a revolt in their next CBA negotiation with NFL owners.  But it should.  Momma always told me I’d get a tummy ache from consuming too much of a good thing. 

 

  • But mainly, the NFL is hypocritical.  Saying they want to make the game safer for present and future players, more opportunity to crash, collide and crunch each other – on a shorter work week than normal – isn’t the way to go about creating successful, meaningful change.

 

  • If you’re a sufferer of PDS – Patriots Demise Syndrome, as detailed by NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran – have the antibiotics kicked in yet?  You should have felt at least a little something by halftime of last week’s squishing of the Fish.

 

  • Edelman’s return featured seven catches for 57 yards, and nine targets from TB12.  It’s a start, but it will have to improve.  It’s the offense having to carry the defense again this year, over the long haul.

 

  • TB12’s career accomplishments (500 TD tosses to 71 receivers being one of them) are almost becoming too many to remember.  Can we just agree to call him the G.O.A.T. and leave it at that?

 

  • Tweet of the Week I, from @adamschefter: “Some numbers from first quarter of the NFL season - *3,030 points scored is most through Week 4 in NFL history (2,986, 2012) *344 touchdowns are most through Week 4 in NFL history (332, 2015) *228 touchdown passes are most through Week 4 in NFL history (205, 2013).”

 

  • Offense rules, defense drools.  12 NFL QB’s have thrown for 400+ yards in a game this season, the most ever through just four weeks.  Four of those came last week – tops in a single week, ever.

 

  • Defense is now all about situational play, anyway.  Get off the field on 3rd down, squeeze tight when the opponent gets in the red zone.  Yards allowed?  Rule changes dictate those.  The only numbers that really matter are on the scoreboard.

 

  • In case you were wondering, we’re just a month away from the tip-off to college hoops season.  Nov. 6th is Opening Night across the country – and around here, too.

 

  • Friar junior Alpha Diallo is a candidate for preseason Big East Player of the Year, but I wouldn’t expect his candidacy to receive serious merit from fans or the media.  It’s likely St. John’s Shamorie Ponds gets the nod, perhaps in contention with Eric Paschall at Villanova and Jessie Govan at Georgetown.

 

  • But Diallo should, at the very least, be a 1st or 2nd team preseason pick for all-Big East.  From this viewpoint, I’ll take Ponds, Paschall, Govan, Marquette’s Marcus Howard and Diallo for the 1st team. 

 

  • Expect Butler’s Kamar Baldwin, DePaul’s Max Strus, Seton Hall’s Myles Powell, Nova’s Phil Booth, Xavier’s Naji Marshall and Creighton’s Martin Krampelj (if healthy) to receive some run, too.

 

  • As for the team order – it hasn’t varied much from the end of last year.  Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence, Georgetown, Xavier, Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall and DePaul is my selection today.  But throw numbers’ 6 through 10 in a barrel and pick one.

 

  • New St. John’s AD Mike Cragg spent 30 years working in the athletic department at Duke, before taking over as the leader of the Red Storm this week.  His biggest accomplishment while with the Blue Devils may have been overseeing their nationally-renown men’s basketball program.  It stands to reason his biggest task in New York will be to return the Johnnies to a similar pedestal, at least within the Big East.

 

  • The new Ruane Friar Development Center on PC’s campus is a ‘wow.’  The weight room ranks right up there with any I’ve seen on a college campus – including those at much larger schools who have football programs.  That’s my biggest takeaway from a first-impression standpoint.

 

  • URI picked up some future inside help this week, with 6-9 Australian Marial Mading giving a verbal commitment to David Cox and the Rams.

 

  • The NCAA hoop scandal and federal corruption trial underway this week may have inadvertently snagged a Big East program.  Creighton was mentioned as a team, through intermediary Christian Dawkins, that allegedly offered Brian Bowen “$100K and a good job” according to his father, Brian Bowen, Sr. on the witness stand.

 

  • Within minutes of the testimony becoming public, Creighton issued a statement saying they have not been contacted by the FBI or the NCAA, and that they have conducted ‘a thorough review’ of their men’s basketball program.  Stay tuned, the trial is expected to last most of this month.

 

  • We’ve told you, as have others, this story is likely to become messier by the moment.  And likely to draw in a few ‘wows’ and unintended scapegoats along the way.

 

  • The preseason Hockey East polls have Providence either 1st or 2nd, depending on whether you believe the coaches (1st) or the media (2nd).  Which is it?  The coaches are likely focused on their own teams, so…

 

  • The nationally 5th-ranked Hockey Friars open Saturday night at Schneider Arena on campus against American International.  The early, big test comes next weekend, Oct. 13th – likely against the team that knocked them out of a Frozen Four appearance last season, Notre Dame.

 

  • Tweet of the Week II, from @Rockies, in response to an @espn tweet that read ‘Life says you have class. Sports say ditch it and cheer the @Rockies to their 1st playoff berth in 9 years’: “*Whispers* We were in the playoffs last year.”

 

  • Anyone else surprised at the Cubs’ flop to the Rockies?  And the Milwaukee Brewers should put the momentum theory to the test, as arguably the hottest team headed into the baseball playoffs.  Christian Yelich?  En fuego, as Dan Patrick used to say.

 

  • Don’t sleep on Colorado, however – the Rockies were just as hot as the Brewers in September.

 

  • Last two years – two AL East titles, 1-6 record in the postseason.  How, pray tell, will 2018 be any different for the Red Sox?

 

  • It can be, if the Sox play with the lead and not have to consistently come from behind. Hitting needs to bail out the pitching before the pitching can even think about flopping.

 

  • And, can home field advantage make the ultimate difference?  They didn’t have that the past two years.

 

  • Sox-Yankees in the postseason?  Yes, please.  It’s the matchup we’ve been looking forward to for an entire regular season.  I get the sense even the rest of the country will tune in for this occasion, reveling in the rivalry once again, meeting in the postseason for the first time in 14 years.  As it should be. 

 

  • And a repeat-type performance from ’04 would be welcome.  A ‘Yankees suck!’ chant broke out at Gillette Stadium Thursday night.  Just sayin’.

 

  • And the Yankees also crossed a picket line of hotel workers checking into their Boston hotel this week?  Perfect.  Any reason you can conjure up to get PO’d at the Pinstripes works for me.

 

  • Johnny Damon – who won a World Series ring with Boston in 2004 but also won in New York – was quoted this week as saying “New York’s my team.  The Yankees, that’s who I want to win.”  Damon is dead to me now.

 

  • I realize we were giving up the ‘home course advantage,’ but fellas, really.  The Ryder Cup flop last week was so bad, you might need more than just your passports to come home.  Remember to bring back your games, too.  You were “pantsed.”  And to USA Captain Jim Furyk?  Use your head, not your heart, when it comes to the team next time around – if there is a ‘next time’ for you?

 

  • Tweet of the Week III, from @danjenkinsgd: “That golf course outside Paris mainly exposed how easy our PGA Tour courses are set up. Golf used to reward skill.”

 

  • Anyone else surprised the NBA GM’s rank Brad Stevens as the #1 coach in the league?  His fellow coaches may have snubbed him a year ago, but the guys who hired those coaches appear to agree.

 

  • And speaking of surprise, NBA ‘No!’ and NHL ‘Si!’ in Seattle.  The city’s expansion application has been approved, and a vote from the league’s Board of Governors should come in December.

 

  • Tweet of the Week IV, from WBZ’s @JoeGiza: “In the next presidential election I will vote for the candidate who promises severe punishment for drivers who go to the front of a long line of cars in traffic and cut in.”

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez he took his wife to a disco last weekend, hoping to rekindle the flames of youth from years ago.  When they arrived, there was a guy on the dance floor who was doing it all – break dancing, moon walking, black flips, gyrating to every beat booming through the sound system.  Mrs. E turned and said, “See that guy out there?  He proposed to me 40 years ago, and I turned him down.”  Big E, never one to miss his own beat, fired back.  “Looks like he’s still celebrating.”

 

  • Around here, March is treasured for the Madness it brings every year – especially when the locals are involved in the NCAA Tournament.  April signals the start of spring and baseball’s regular season, which to Red Sox and Yankee fans is the only time of year that really matters.  And for football fans there’s no time like September, with the autumn wind rolling in like a pirate, blustering in from sea with a rollicking song he sweeps along, swaggering voicelessly.

 

  • For my money, I’ll take October as the best sports month of the year, if you’re into thoroughness and the big picture.  There’s playoff baseball…which is doubly good if you’ve got a team in the hunt, and we do.  There’s the face-off to the college hockey and NHL seasons – which didn’t start out too well for the Bruins (a 7-0 loss to Washington?  Really?) – and there’s basketball on the immediate horizon, with the Celtics ready to begin play as THE favorite in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

 

  • And of course, football is already well underway, with the Patriots in the middle of their annual battle for credibility with their own fan base after stumbling out of the starting gate.  Again.  But that’s part of the fun, reintroducing the games and stories to fans who need a constant reminder of how good they really have it around here. 

 

  • 10 championships by the aforementioned pro teams since the start of the new millennium.  Five straight NCAA’s and a Big East title for Friar fans, and a resurgent URI hoop (plus football?) program with an A-10 crown and NCAA berths to boot.  It’s all good.  But I’ll take October, when all is new – and all is good again.  For just about everyone.

 

  • Nick from Missouri posted on Facebook this week on the Patriots’ current personnel shortcomings: “I worry we’re still short a cover guy in the secondary or a dominant pass rusher. I think you have to plan for later meetings with mobile quarterbacks…I see a trade coming?” 

 

  • Nick:  I certainly agree with your assessment of the secondary and/or pass rushing department.  Those are hand-in-hand, however.  While it would help to have another ‘cover guy’ with someone to apply pressure on the QB, it tends to naturally help the secondary out with any shortcomings.  Bringing heat always helps the back end.  That’s what I see as an on-going battle this year.  Trades?  It takes two to tango, so unless another team has a definite need, I don’t see anyone helping the Patriots.  At all.

 

  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Southern New England Sports Saturday!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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