After Mick McCabe’s Sunday Free Press column, and the attendant explosion of chatter Monday morning, things seem to have died down a bit. Ron English contacted Terry Foster and explained what he meant.
“I was saying I want players with a man in their lives.”
That makes a big difference.
“I would be stupid to say I would not recruit single parent households,” English said. “Why would I limit myself?”
Perhaps just as importantly, AnnArbor.com gave the entire quote, in context:
At media day, English was asked about his incoming class of recruits. In a conversation that also talked about a lack of toughness exhibited by his team, which was 0-12 last season, English said:
“You know what the real focus was? We wanted to recruit football players that love football. I felt like we had a lot of guys who really didn’t love football. They maybe were playing football so that they could go to school or whatever, but not for the love of playing football.
“So when we went out, we wanted to do two things. We wanted players who love football, who have the physical ability to play football and then the other thing we wanted was guys that could be coached. We wanted guys that had a father in their background because if you don’t, the hard part is, some guy like me coming in and corrects you. So you’re working – that’s a whole another dynamic. A guy that’s raised by his mom – and please don’t take me wrong – but the reality is, you have to teach that guy how to be taught by a man. That’s part of it.”
As I admitted yesterday, my feelings on this went back and forth a bit. In the end, I don’t really have any problem with what English said, though I think he could have chosen his words more carefully, especially considering the already-difficult job he faces. He’s the head coach of a FBS program, and he needs to be aware that everything he says is facing a certain level of scrutiny, often by people who don’t want him to succeed. That said, I think if you read the entire quote, in its context, and then compare it to what McCabe wrote, you have to conclude that either McCabe is a moron, or he deliberately took English’s comment out of context. McCabe’s column is even more absurd when you consider English’s own upbringing:
His mother, who was divorced from his father at the time of English’s birth, died when her son was 18 months old. A legal battle followed and English was raised by his grandmother without his grandfather being present until the age of 13. English then was forced to turn to uncles and youth coaches for positive role models – a point he said he was trying to make during his comments in Detroit.
If anyone was “moronic and sexist” in this episode, it was surely McCabe, who seems to have deliberately taken English’s quote out of context, and then used his column to suggest that the presence of a father is irrelevant.