The Distinction Between Coaching Players Hard and Abuse

Late last week, WatchStadium’s Jeff Goodman (who is a friend of Chris Beard by the way) dropped a heck of a story on Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall.

You should read the story because it has significant allegations about the mental and verbal abuse that Marshall put on his players. One of those players is Jamarius Burton, who was granted his release to be eligible immediately for Texas Tech about a week or so before this story came out. I’m sure that is not a coincidence.

Marshall allegedly punched a player twice, chocked an assistant coach, mocked players, and was generally an asshole . . . allegedly.

Rob Dauster had a terrific piece about abusive coaches, something that Texas Tech knows all too well:

Billy Clyde is the former UTEP, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Texas Tech head coach. He was fired by Texas Tech after another Goodman exposé, in which he dug up serious allegations of mistreatment and NCAA rule-breaking. I reported on Billy Clyde for NBC Sports back in March — you can read that story here — and included some never-before-reported stories from his past.

Put succinctly, Billy Clyde was, is and always will be a sadistic piece of shit.

Allowing him to be in charge of young adults is heinous.

But the reason that I had to write that story in March was because Billy Clyde got himself another job.

He’s now the head coach at Tarleton State, a transitional Division I program in Texas whose athletic director understands the value in finding a coach that can win while under-resourced. Billy Clyde may be a sociopath, but he wins.

I know that BCG went though a whole kidney transplant and the woman who saved his life maybe deserves some recognition for just saving someone’s life. But Billy Clyde Gillespie was an absolute monster the way he treated players in the very short time that he was at Texas Tech and I don’t know that I can really ever forgive him for that. BCG doesn’t need my forgiveness, so I’m not worried about that.

Texas Tech has recently fired two head coaches, Marlene Stollings and Adrian Gregory, although the allegations are quite different for both coaches, I think generally speaking, the players were not treated that adult human beings deserved to be treated. Across the board, from the player on the end of the bench to the best player.

The point that Dauster makes at the end of the article is about Tom Izzo, who caught all sorts of heat for yelling at a player and as Dauster notes, that the relationship that Izzo has with the players is second to none and that he absolutely loves his players. Dauster doesn’t mention Chris Beard by name, but I’ve always felt that the hard coaching and the yelling is part of coaching. Does he love you as hard as he coaches you?

And Texas Tech has been a beneficiary of Marshall’s treatment with Burton’s transfer and now eligibility. With Mac McClung’s waiver still hanging in the balance, having Burton available is significant for sure.

Players will see right though coaches who don’t really care about the players and the treatment of players is some sort of sadistic game to improve your career or to think that players are motivated continually getting punched in the gut (both literally and metaphorically).

If the players don’t believe that the head coach gives a shit, then the players will just bail.

We see Beard lay into players from our television and for those of you who attend games, you actually get to hear it. Miss a defensive rotation? You’re probably going to get an earful. And make no mistake that Beard coaches players incredibly hard. I have no doubt about that.

Beard has had his fair share of transfers, and I don’t think that’s because of player treatment, but because Beard obsessively churns the roster. That very well may come back to haunt him one day, but I’ve always sort of thought that if he is honest with the players and they know the deal if they sign, then I’m okay with that. Beard most likely wouldn’t sign the players he signs if it wasn’t a two-way street.

And maybe this is a lesson for every coach that wants to enter into this profession, which is that if you don’t love your players in a public and outwardly manner, then you might be somewhat successful like Marshall at Wichita State. However, the most successful coaches are emotionally invested in their players (FN 1). That’s probably a better description than love, but I think it’s all the same. Players are not pawns to your coaching success, they are human beings and your job is to teach them how to play together and play as a cohesive unit.

Love’em as hard as you coach’em and you’ll probably be fine.


FN. 1: I’d love for some insight on Tim Tadlock, he doesn’t strike me as an outwardly emotional sort of guy, but he does seem like a guy that will absolutely be there for you if the need arises.


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