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SportsTalk Throwdown

You know that old, now-useless adage about never picking fights with people who buy ink by the barrel? Well, change it to never pick fights with people whose parents' employers buy wattage by the....watt, I guess.

After Mike Wilbon crushed the Ball State folks this AM over the Ronny Thompson fiasco, Father John took up the baton this afternoon, having his son's lawyer on his WTEM show so he could press him with tough questions like, did "your client" act appropriately? "Your client?" And so he could describe Ball State's security force as "basically people who carry flashlights." And so his cohort, Brian Mitchell, could essentially say the Ball State president was unworthy of her position.

Fair is fair, I guess, since the Muncie paper continues to shred Thompson. Here's what the beat writer had to say after the new hire was made:

The Cardinals didn't go for the glitz and glamour of a "name" hire like they did a year ago. Instead, they chose a man who doesn't think the universe revolves around him and is eager to correct what is wrong with the program.

And here's the hometown paper's staff editorial from late last week:

By hiring Billy Taylor to run its basketball program, Ball State University appears to have found a way to make the community forget the disasters wrought by previous coach Ronny Thompson. Taylor seems to be everything that Thompson wasn't -- genuine, humble, engaging and most of all, willing to reach out to others for help and support.

Sounds like they have a balanced view of the situation. So I guess if you need to turn to other media outlets to get your side across, you might as well turn to your father's radio show. Still, "your client?"

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 14, 2007; 2:51 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball , Media  
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It was funny to hear Big John say that. But he was somewhat up front at the beginning that this was a difficult topic for him, etc.

I trust Wilbon to have a balanced take on this situation, and on Big John's show they didn't really stray too far from what ran in the column today. This is ugly no matter how you look at it.

But, obviously, this is a difficult topic, and I can't even pretend to know the protocol of addressing a sticky situation involving your son when you have your own radio show.

Posted by: tmc | August 14, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I love Wilbon, but what knowledge does he have on this subject other than what he's heard from the Thompsons. I seriously doubt he flew to Muncie, IN to gather information for his column. I can't see how he's impartial in this case. Did he even talk to any school officials or boosters?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Here's one idea ... Don't address it on your own show. Go out of house, be a guest on another one, and then field the questions that someone else threw to you.

I like Big John, and I think he's always pretty good, but he should have done here the same thing he did with his son at Georgetown this past year ... stay out of the press conference and the headlines. It's Journalism 101 in terms of Ethics.

Posted by: G-Unit | August 14, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

No doubt, tmc, no doubt. If it were me, I'd probably just let my colleagues handle this, esp. since it's not really local. Either that, or just go all-out and defend Ronny to the hilt. But the weird "I'm sort of his dad and sort of trying to be an objective-ish radio host" vibe was just bizarre.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | August 14, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

He's a talk show radio host, not a journalist. He has a medium in which he can get out a message and give an opinion on an important topic with insider information, and he should not be criticized for it.

Posted by: Azrosh | August 14, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

John posse.

Posted by: Kim | August 14, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Ronny has been dead to me since he heaved that brick at the buzzer against Syracuse in '91 when he had a pair of hall of famers in the blocks. The real story, however, is his brother. Why doesn't he have an extension?

Posted by: Hoya | August 14, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, was pretty surprised to hear the Ronnie Thompson side of things. For weeks, he has just been getting destroyed for leaving Ball State the way he did. The school was totally fine with the implication that he left because he was caught bending NCAA rules. I have to wonder, though; after airing his grievances in the Festivus-like fashion of a Wilbon column, will this hurt Ronnie Thompson's future coaching prospects even more than leaving Ball State under a cloud of NCAA violations? If you were an AD, who would you rather hire? An EEOC whistle-blower or someone who plays loose with NCAA rules? At a minimum, that's a pretty tough call.

Posted by: DY | August 14, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Is Wilbon just phoning it in these days? Was that a column? Or just a re-hash of lunch with Ronny?

Posted by: gidge | August 14, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Look, they've clearly decided they need a PR offensive. So they get their buddy Wilbon to do a one-sided puff piece. Thompson and Walker both talk about it on their shows. Wouldn't surprise me if Wilbon gets it on PTI sooner or later, etc. etc. Who knows what happened? But given that Ronnie is John's son, it wouldn't be so difficult to believe that he was aloof and arrogant, would it?

Posted by: Joe | August 14, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, the available public records in this case contradict many of the things Ronny Thompson is saying. I'm not saying BSU is totally innocent, but Wilbon's story has a lot of false statements in it. Its scary that someone would publish this story without checking Ronny's statements for validity. But, I've come to accept the fact that the Post doesn't seem to care too much about the truth.

There was only 3 weeks between coaches, not 2 1/2 months as Ronny stated. There were 10 scholarship players on the roster when Ronny took over, not 5 as Ronny stated. All 10 of those players were academically eligible when Ronny was hired. But, Ronny had stated in Wilbon's story that the players "weren't going to class" under the previous coach. If they weren't going to class, they probably wouldn't have still been eligible. Ronny also claimed that the BSU players had been in trouble for selling "free books" under the previous coach. The NCAA did investigate that incident and found that there wasn't any evidence to support that claim.

All of the above is public record, check it out for yourself. Then come back here and tell Mr. Wilbon what you found. If all of these statements made by Ronny were false, it kind of makes you question anything else the man says.

Posted by: bsu grad | August 15, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Come on a D-1 program without basketballs!!!! PLEASE Ask Ronny to show the bill of sales where he puchased these basketballs from. And ask his brother to show the shipping records that he sent him basketballs. What a joke.

Posted by: Gary | August 22, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

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