By Jim Reed
The thing so perplexing about the serialized Rick Pitino scandal is this: Most everyone you talk to offers a knowing wink and mutters that thereâ€™s â€œmore to this than meets the eye.â€ Well, do tell. Somebody, please, do tell. The few facts that dribble out raise more questions than answers. Does no one have anything definitive? We want the facts, all the details; weâ€™ll smugly apply our own prejudices and personal biases if need be. Then, just maybe, we can put it all behind us.
Doesnâ€™t it seem that, in large part, the local news media has been circling the wagons in defense of the man whose white suit is becoming more famous than that of Colonel Sanders? Â I am weary of the breathless whispers, the unfounded rumors, the unsubstantiated accusations; give us the true nitty-gritty.
Loosen the news hounds. Must we wait for the tell-all book? Where is Deep throat when we need him? Letâ€™s hear some juicy tidbits from confidential informants whose story has been verified by an independent source. Tie up the loose ends! Right now, I feel like TVâ€™s Monk: â€œI know they did it; I just donâ€™t know how they did it.â€ Letâ€™s get all the cards on the table.
Fox News assures us, â€œWe report, you decide.â€ Fair enough. Then give us the scoop; weâ€™ll analyze whatâ€™s in the shovel. What weâ€™ve been getting, though, is a reluctance: News sources seem to be â€œfumbling for the check.â€ Why the timidity? Whatever happened to the rush to be the â€œfirst to report.â€ About all Iâ€™ve learned from TV is that, nights when heâ€™s out late, Coach likes to go to Rallyâ€™s.
If he has to squirm a bit now, so be it; heâ€™s a public figure, of his own making, until now an icon of hard work and noble purpose.
Yes, The Courier-Journal has taken the lead in breaking this story open, with open-records requests, etc., but thereâ€™s still a sense their heartâ€™s not in it. Every time I read something new, there are more loose ends than clarity; I feel like Peter Falkâ€™s Columbo asking: â€œJust one more thing.â€ I mean, whatever became of that post-Watergate investigative reporter, no stoned left unturned mindset? We need a local version of Woodard and Bernstein assigned to sniff out the facts. The devil is in the details.
Itâ€™s not just the press that seems to be dragging their feet on this, though. Iâ€™ve seen no local villagers gathering at sundown, armed with pitch forks and torches, to march on the castle demanding an explanation for what, based on the sketchiest reports, appears to be outrageous behavior by a pillar of the community.
Even university leaders, among the last bastions of morality, have developed a blind eye. Despite a good degree of pillorying of the coach in the national media, the prevailing attitude locally seems to be merely, â€œWell, boys will be boys,â€ and â€œBut heâ€™s such a good coach.â€ Where is the outrage?
Personally, I do believe in double standards. To wit: I have no problem with one set of rules for celebrities and another one for the rest of us. Celebrities who gripe about their lack of privacy can â€œtalk to the bank.â€ For the record, Iâ€™ve been an ardent supporter of Rick Pitino. I was so taken by his public persona that, years ago, I hiked down to the belvedere just to watch him relay the Olympic torch. When he trotted past, the moment touched me.
In subsequent years, he basked in our admiration; he didnâ€™t demur when we put him on a pedestal; he sought the spotlight; he also cashed the big checks. Success is a choice. If he has to squirm a bit now, so be it; heâ€™s a public figure, of his own making, until now an icon of hard work and noble purpose. But: To whom much is given, much is expected. And itâ€™s time to take some questions. As Desi often told his TV wife, â€œLucy, you got some â€™splaining to do.â€ How can we be judgmental and pious if we donâ€™t have all of the cards on the table?