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John Groce To Illinois: Reporters Ruin Everything And Life Is Unfair


Something they don't stress in college is the necessity for t-crossing and i-dotting. And why would they? People are bored enough during class. But in the real world — which includes small pockets of offices and contract negotiations even on university premises — these are vital. You need specific dollar values and clauses to make sense in case a lawyer tries to find a loophole. It's important to make sure processes are followed.

It's a hard lesson that OHIO Bobcats basketball players are starting to grasp. It's a more complex one, too, when compared to the one from last week when they fell to North Carolina in overtime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament regional semifinals. Sometimes, despite all best efforts, you will lose to someone who is clearly bigger than you. It's something any Mid-American Conference player needs to learn because it happens quite often. And it sucks when it happens — no question. Crying is an acceptable reaction. Same with not only losing a game, but losing your coach. You're saying goodbye to a mentor and father figure. Holy cow, that's got to be tough.

And here's how players were reacting:

And I can understand their frustration. They learned that John Groce was almost certainly going to leave ... and they learned about it on the Internet. CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman was the first major person to break this news last night, giving details that it was going to happen and press conferences would be Thursday.

I think Reggie Keely beyond everyone else understood the nature of the game. "It's a business," Trey Zeigler famously quipped when his dad was canned at Central Michigan, and now they have both left CMU. If you wanted to be sappy and realistic at the same time, college sports is a business of dreams. Yes, for the players. They want to play basketball, be good at it and win something. For the fans: they're watching this stuff because it makes them happy or, at the very least, provides them emotions not felt outside the arena.

Feelings of disloyalty and backstabbing are only perceived when not taking into consideration the desire for dreams and the necessity of processes. The most discordant thing here: the way you hire a college coach is completely different from the way a national college basketball reporter breaks news. They're leaning on insiders to give them information before official decisions can be made, because fans thrive on this information. (In this case, Illinois fans, not so much OHIO fans.) So when the news tells you about it before it happens, how on earth can a real organization, especially a school like Ohio University, be equipped to be on call 24/7 to answer questions that players may have when CBS lives, breathes and tweets around the clock?

But now a new process begins, this time for the Bobcats. They're going to start a hiring process, doing their best to ensure that their business of dreams remains steady. They have a veteran and accomplished team with some disgruntled players. And some, albeit considerably fewer and less prominent, reporters are going to drive the speculation bandwagon (and some actual facts). We bloggers are going to add to the confusion. Players will want to know what's up. But in the end, it's all going to work out.

I mean, maybe the coach will suck. You never know. That's a whole another lesson entirely.