Skip to main content

I believe that healthy non-attacking debate is good and I disagree with the closing of the previous post on the Oklahoma baseball situation.

I do not believe it is OK to have racist coaches or make racist statements at any level of any sport.

Several years ago during the Spring of 1995 I was a sports writer in New York City. I wrote a story about then-St. John's University coach Joe Russo being charged with racism during a school investigation.

Here are some of the things he was accused of doing:

1 - St. John's represented the USA at the Pan American Games that year because it was during the college season. The Red Storm volunteered to go play in the Games.

Russo took all his scholarship players, but one, and several non-scholarship players as well. The lone scholarship player not attending the event was the only African-American player on the team.

2 - He has used a racial slur when he and an African-American girl collided while they were both jogging on a cold wet day in New York City. He allegedly called her a n----r and other things.

3 - When asked if he thought his coach was a racist the player replied very quickly that he didn't think his coach was a racist...he knew he was a racist.

There is a lot more to the story, but you get the idea. To the credit of the staff at St. John's I was leaked information that helped get this story onto the front page of the paper. However, to their discredit the schoool administration did not force this coach to resign until after the fall season was over in 1995 - and that was due to pressure from the NAACP.

IMHO people like that do not need to be coaching at any level. I was brought up not to hate people because of their color and find the support for the Oklahoma coach by some posters very questionable and to be honest very scary. I am completely in Dad04s corner on this issue.

And for the people who believe this was an issolated instance - that is ridiculous. The coach made the comment to two different reporters of whom he does not even know very well. I'll bet he has made it to many others as well.

If the resignation was forced I commend the Oklahoma administration for acting properly and quickly. Think about it this way, if a college professor used the same word to describe a student he would be fired right away - no matter how much tenure he had.
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

...Think about it this way, if a college professor used the same word to describe a student he would be fired right away - no matter how much tenure he had.

If this were true and justice was administered equally it would be difficult to argue with you. But, it is not true.

BTW, a tough topic, maybe the most difficult topic, discussed well, without incident, yet cvsting has to show his authority.

How tall are you?
Last edited by Teacherman
I am not condoning the coach’s choice of words but I think we all know what he was trying to say even if we aren’t supposed to talk about it. We can’t publicly admit that young back men in a much higher percentage are leading a life that is a drag on society. How can we fix the problem if we can’t admit there is one? Not being able to talk about it doesn't change the fact that way too many young black men are being raised without a father. Too many are unemployed because they chose not to become educated. Too many choose to do drugs. Too many choose to make babies out of wedlock. Too many become divorced and too many choose to live a life of crime in greater proportion to their numbers.

I don’t see the problem as being as black and white as Jesse Jackson and others seem to want to make it. I see it being more of an issue of good people not wanting to live next to bad people. Decent people of all colors would prefer to not live next to unemployed, uneducated gang banging, woman demeaning, drug infested predators. (You know the kind of people and lifestyle gangsta rap glorifies)

Right now there are a substantial percentage of young black males who neither decent white people nor decent black people would want for neighbors. There’s also plenty of “White Trash” that neither decent black people nor decent white people want to live next to either.

It’s all about choices and not excuses. Young people of all color need to choose to stay in school, choose not to do drugs, choose not to steal from others or to cause them harm. This country needs more leaders like Condi Rice’s, Colin Powell’s and Clarence Thomas’. And leaders like these need to come in all colors.
The debate is a good one and important to our entire society. cvsting was way out of line is closing the topic.

As for me, I don't see as how the OU administration had a choice. Cochell is not the youngest guy and probably grew up in an area where his words were accepted. They cannot be any longer. I do hope he gets another chance somewhere and soon. I cannot imagine he has not learned his lesson, but at what price?
How about another spin

The remarks were supposedly made off camera and in normal discussion between coach and the ESPN reporters--I am not condoning the remarks but what gives ESPN the right to air the remarks when they were not part of an interview etc---ESPN of late has truly become "spicy" in their reporting--this is sort of a tattle tale thing--

Does this mean that you and I can have our conversation aired on ESPN if their peoiple overhear it.

Now I know why some players wont talk to the press
Last edited by TRhit

That's exactly what it means, especially if you are the coach and you are speaking directly to the media and you understand from the start that you are representing your entire school, not just yourself.

But do the math yourself. Cochell is 65. IF he grew up in the south, that would have been in the 40s and 50s. The south was an extremely racist place when I grew up there in the 60s. In the 40s and 50s, it was nearly the entire nation. I'm not surprised at what he said and I don't doubt he meant it, which means he had absolutely no business coaching at a state university supported by dollars paid by taxpayers of every race. I guarantee it wasn't the first time he made such remarks, either.
I have a feeling there is more to the story than the coach is a 65 year old racist but we probably won’t hear it. As I mentioned previously it is that taboo subject that people with either more brains or less balls than some of us will even touch. This is perhaps evidenced no better than when a moderator quickly shut down the previous related thread.

Why has the coach been silent? Has OU paid him off to simply go away?

I would like to hear from the coach. If after hearing him we learn he is indeed a racist, then off with his head.

I would hope that he would regret his choice of words but I’d like to hear if he has something that might be worthwhile to move this important subject forward.
Last edited by SBK
I have little respect for media writers to begin with as they will turn over every rock or pebble for a story but if this was just conversation between individuals what gives ESPN to run with it

That is what bothers me

"Shoot the messenger" rationalizations. If I don't like programming I change the channel.

The bottom line is that no one can coach at a public institution with that vocabulary. If a private school wants to hire him that is fine.

I know a high school coach who thinks its wonderful to single out black players because of their skin color. He believes blacks don't make good pitchers because the ball shows up better coming out of their hand. Gods truth.

That cretin lost his job too.
Last edited by Dad04

It is not so much a commentary on this particular coach or individual, but on the culture of the south. I lived it and (based on what the man said at least twice) it is pretty clear where he is coming from and the culture in which he was raised. I have heard it many, many times and more often than not in the ugliest and most derogatory of terms. And, the fact is, Cochell's inferences are as derogatory and bigoted as it gets.

As for ESPN, it is the media. That is what they do. I understand that most folks who do not deal with the media every day would have the point of view that is being expressed here. But Cochell is a professional at this and very acclimated to dealing with the press. Not only should he have known, he did know and I bet he would tell you that himself.
I can't speak for ESPN or the broascast media. I can tell you the rules under which I play when I write.

If I'm there in a professional capacity, everything said is on the record unless we mutually agree beforehand that it is not. If I hear it, see it or learn it, it's up to me and my superiors whether or not to write it. If is has news value, meaning we think folks need to or will want to read about it, we're writing it.

If I'm there in a personal capacity, as I am when I watch my children, everything is off the record, regardless of what I hear, see or learn. And I will not allow myself to be a source for any story in this way. In fact, this year I asked that a booster club meeting I attended go to executive session just so I could ask a question that came from a media mind, but a parent's heart. I did it so the answer was off the record not only for me, but everyone else.

I'm not saying this to do advocate any chest-beating morality. And I know some folks will disagree with my rules. But I write this to give folks a sense of what is at play in this discussion about my profession.

If you come away with the belief that a journalist's job often stinks, you're right.
Last edited by OldVaman
First of all the coach was stupid for making the statement(s) and is an embarrassment to Oklahoma just as Senator KKK Robert Byrd is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party for also using the same word. No outcry about Byrd and he still sits as a US Senator representing a lot of African Americans from West Virginia. But Jemaz and SBK have brought
up a different angle about this incident.

Jemaz says that ESPN is the media and anything they hear of note should be reported.

Really? How about something their wife tells them in private? How about their golfing buddies after a few rounds on the 19th hole? How about the inlaws at Thanksgiving? How about a coach having a casual conversation before the cameras are rolling?

There is a line and that line should be "This is for the record" or "The interview is now
beginning". Oklahoma's coach was wrong and stupid for the remarks he made and has suffered
the consequences for his actions but I have been in Major League locker rooms and have heard much worse back and forth between white and black ballplayers that never made the news because writers, coaches, and players knew that nothing was meant to demean each other. It was all in good fun and everyone took it how it was meant. Writers now wonder
why players clam up when they approach-right. Is there any question?

Again, Oklahoma had no choice in the matter,IMO, but why is Byrd still a Senator?????

I agree on Robert Byrd, but that is an issue for the voters of West Virginia. Are you surprised that he remains a senator?

As for the press, I am sorry to tell you, but that simply is not how it works -- anywhere -- and I was a reporter for a decade and have worked regularly with the press in Congress and in the corporate world.

It may not be what I want it to be or what you want it to be, but, as OldVaMan said, it is what it is and it is not going to change any time soon.

And, as I said above, Cochell knows this. He let his guard down when he should not have and in a way that maybe was predictable (maybe not) but was certainly stupid. He is paying the price to the hilt. I hope at 65, for his sake, that he has qualified for retirement benefits.
I'm with Dad04 on this. The whole thing sickens me. I am a relocated yankee living in the south and I hear comments made like this from "well-meaning" people frequently. To suggest that what he said was in some way a compliment shows how deep rooted the bias is.

The comments were, without a doubt, the dumbest remarks conceivable for a coach in his position. To blame ESPN for reporting the story should be the least of our worries. The comments should never have been made. Period.

Thank goodness they finally removed the Confederate flag from our state house. Good grief!!
I understand the people of WVa voted Byrd in, my question is why hasn't pressure been put on him to resign by fellow senators and constantly hounded by the press? Double
standard. A mistake is a mistake and it has no color or political persuasion. One is pressured to resign and the other is not. Although, I would think a Senator has more influence on our society and our youth than a college baseball coach. Maybe not, huh? Confused
A mistake is a mistake and it has no color or political persuasion. One is pressured to resign and the other is not.

I am sure Senator Byrd supporters would say he was in the Klan 60 years ago and times have long since changed.

Coach Cochell spoke with ESPN last Friday afternoon.
Last edited by Dad04
Reading threads such as this always makes me wonder which posters themselves have let remarks slip that they didn't intend at all to be offensive. I know that I've heard various people say:

"He Jewed me out of..."

"...Dirty Jap Trick!"

etc. etc. It seems that we are all good at passing judgement on others. Too bad we haven't been reflective enough of ourselves. I believe that we are all victims and beneficiaries of our environment. It is a two edged sword. Sometimes we simply say things that we don't mean about things we would never support. That is called being human. I don't consider the one statement by a man as highly regarded as this coach as proof that he is a racist. I simply believe he made a mistake. I would bet that he was as horrified as anyone else when he realized what he said. Everything here is JMHO!
If the coach had said, "there's no hip-hop gangsta in him", is he still out of a job? I heard an intersting discussion of the double standard the other day on sports radio. A black or African American if that's preferred NBA analyst was discussing European American JJ Reddick of Duke. He was praising Reddick's improvements in his athleticism as evidenced in his taking people off the dribble and defensive improvements. The analyst said a lot of NBA analysts refuse to look at a white player as anything but a spot up shooter. Is this type of thinking less reprehensible than the OU coach's?
In my opinion, we often look at sports figures with higher esteem than we do politicians, even United States Senators.

So when they screw up, we turn on them, hard and fast.

A politician gets a DWI or is caught doing something else naughty, is often takes months for any sanction to be imposed, if one ever is imposed.

If it's a sports figure, the pressure is on usually starting the next day.

Ask yourself: How many politicians have fan clubs? Do we have an equivanent of a hot stove league for CEOs of major corporations? Does the "Supreme Court winter session" make folks as sentimental as "pitchers and catchers report?"

I submit that sports in general and baseball in particular spawns a faster and more intense discussion of real-life issues than just about anything in the so-called real world.
Coach Cochell was wrong for what he said but I wonder if he was made to resigned because he said both honkies and the "n" or just because he said the "n" word.

Many say he mad a generalization about the black race but he also made a generalization about the white race in the same content.

And in the webster dictionary : honky is a noun and is a slang or offensive word towards white people but I guarantee his generalization of white people was disregarded. Which proves to me that our society has a double standarded when dealing with race and we wonder why there is still so much tension among the races, especially in the South.

Scooter P
All of these points on the surface have a basis of logic that I fully understand and at one time supported. However, my thinking has changed. This change is highlighted primarily by two things:

1. My observation that the integration of schools in America has worked to bring about a society that is far more color blind (especially among those who have attended integrated schools from Day 1), and

2. If whites had been enslaved and then treated so poorly in nearly every way rather than blacks, we would have a different comparison here. There is a theory that says a group that is the at-large victim of racism by the much larger majority cannot by definition be racist itself. If you look closely, it is hard to argue with that. So, yes, it is far worse to use such commentary when discussing black players than discussing white players because in the discussion of white players it is in essence meaningless.

Of course we are all better off if we are all just people, which Coach Cochell seems not to embrace as evidenced by his own words.
Last edited by jemaz

I understand what you are saying but being a racist or using a racial slur is the same thing no matter what a race's history is or was. It should not be a one way street when dealing with people and if we are going to punish one for using such demeaning words, then we need to start punishing everyone.

I was listening to a sport talk show yesterday and one of the host was black and he made a good point. He stated in more words than one, that if someone lets a word offend them that much, then they are just as bad off as the person using the offensive word.

Scooter P
This is a subject that is a real issue for me.

Do I think that the coach was wrong in using the N-word even though he was paying a compliment to his Black player?

Yes! He was dead wrong. For a man of his
stature and in his position, he should have known better than to speak such a word in public even if he thought he was speaking "off the record", especially since he really did not know the reporter. (One would hope that he would never use the word even in private, but that is beyond anybody's control.)

Do I think he should be fired?

That's a tough one. I'm torn because he was attempting to give the kid a compliment. Had he been vicious, malicious and vindictive in his use of the word, I would not hesitate to say that he should have been fired. I cannot emphasize enough that he should have known better BUT, in his own way, he was trying to say something good about the kid.

If I were his boss, I would have asked this question, "From all that I know about this man, have his actions up to this point been such that I know he made a mistake and is truly sorry for what he said and is willing to give some thought into how hurtful that word can be for many Black Americans? If the answer is yes, then I would have lobbied for him to keep his job, have him make a public apology and place him in an environment where someone could sit down with him and discuss ways in which you can compliment a black kid without offending half of America. If the answer to my question is, no, and because of his past actions I know that this is a reflection of who he truly is and that's the way he thinks, then I would have fired him.

Many of you might wonder why any Black American would NOT want the Coach to be fired in this particular case. I read that even the kid's father did not want to see him fired, although he was "upset" with the coach. I can only speak for myself. If this coach is older than 55, he lived during an era when the N-word was used out in the open for Black people, on the radio, on television, everywhere! I can't tell you how many times I've been called that word to my face by White people and had to take it. I was raised during the late 40's and 50's in Mississippi. So I understand that if he hasn't done the necessary work to change his filtering system and realize that he is living in a time when that word and that kind of thinking is no longer acceptable in public and that he now lives and works in an environment that is diverse, then he is going to continue to "slip up".

For people of my generation, the N-word is a word that has no place in our society today. Yet, I struggle day in and day out with our young Black men, trying to get them to stop using the word themselves. It sends a mixed message. During a class at our Boys Club, I asked a group of Black youths why they use the N-word when talking to each other. The answer they gave me was a surprise. They said, "If we use the word ourselves, then that takes the sting out of it. And, we're not really saying the N-word, we're saying a different word." In other words, they were trying to say that they have chosen to neutralize the word so to speak. In a twisted kind of way they've almost suceeded in doing this because today the words, "My N---a" is a term of endearment among friends, even White friends. Notice that they have changed the word. For them ,it no longer ends in "er" it ends with an "a", which is actually a new word. In their misguided efforts, they feel that, "If we call ourselves the N-word, then Whites can't hurt us with it any longer." The incident with this Coach is proof that their logic is not working and I will use this as an example when I speak to this group again. My kids know that in our home, that word spelled and used any kind of way, is not acceptable.

I know it is probably a moot point now. But if the guy didn't have a track record of being disciminatory or racist, I think I would have voted for him to keep his job with stipulations.

On a lighter note: I have found that some Whites really do have a problem complimenting Blacks without bringing race into it. The issue with the coach was not an isolated incident. My wife was making a presentation about 4 years ago to a predominantly White group and her presentation went really well. At the end of the meeting while she was gathering her materials to leave, an older White lady came up to her and said, "Your presentation was excellent and you speak so well. You are certainly a CREDIT to your RACE." Now, my wife could have taken this in one of two ways. She could have taken it as a slam against the rest of her race and been offended OR she could have taken it for what it was...simply a compliment (at least in the lady's mind) for a job well done.

When my wife was telling me about it later, she said that she could have pulled the lady aside and told her that to any other Black person her compliment might have been offensive. But my wife didn't do that. For all she knew this could have been one of the few times this lady had garnered enough nerves to say anything to a Black person. Instead, she looked at her, and in the kindest manner said, "Thank you, Miss, for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoyed the presentation." End of story. My wife, who once was a teacher, said that was not the time to try to teach a lesson.

Good discussion, Guys. Keep it going. Believe it or not, learning is taking place for all of us.

Thanks for posting. I guess a simple "Really enjoyed your speach, Ma'am" would have worked, just as the coach Cochell saying "He's a fine young man" would have also.


I missed Byrd's comment. He is an irrelevent fossil that needs to just go away.

Saw TP got another win close by. Good job!!! Smile
Just some points to ponder.


I agree with you that Senator Byrd is an embarassment to West Virgina. There is no questions on that. The people who have elected that Democrat should have their heads examined.

But just because the people in West Virginia are ignorant does not mean the administrators at Oklahoma should be too. But you point is well taken about the fairness of the two situations.


I'm with you 100 percent.


Thank you for you comments. This thread has been very educational for me to see different people opinions without any trash talking. Each opinion, such as the two gentlemen above has been well thought out .

Finally, as a former reporter I will say that unless I and the other person both state that a comment or interview is off the record then it is on the record - simple as that.

A good reporter will know when to use comments like that.

In this case he spoke like to to each of the announcers separately and they happened to compare notes later. At that time ESPN called the school as a courtesy before they ran the story. I see nothing wrong with the way ESPN handled themselves as media members.

Remember, when talking to a reporter you are always on the record unless you both go off the record. If I tell a reporter something os off the record and he does not agree than everything is on the record.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.