Greg McMackin’s terrible choice of words today at the WAC football preseason media meetings will resonate far beyond Salt Lake City, the Western Athletic Conference, and, perhaps, college football. And in this case, the old one about any publicity being good publicity is not true.
The story will be repeated in many places because it is Notre Dame football — merely the most storied and well-known college sports program in the world — whose dance/chant McMackin made fun of with a slur related to sexual orientation.
Also, with this being a dead time for sports talk, national radio and TV hosts will gleefully grab on to this one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it become fodder for the late night network variety talk show hosts, too.
I spoke with athletic director Jim Donovan today. He refused to comment on any possible disciplinary action citing privacy laws applicable to personnel issues. He did indicate that at this time, McMackin is still running the UH football program. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a couple of unpaid days off in the near future, though.
The coach, at the very least, will be expected to “make amends” to those he may have offended, Donovan said.
There will be people who call for a suspension at least, and there will be people who call for his resignation or firing. And this is bad whenever, but horrible timing now — McMackin just added to his work and stress load just a few days before the start of fall camp. Assuming he is not suspended or fired, at the very least he has a huge distraction with which to deal.
Other than Donovan calling the Bobby Curran Show to get ahead of the situation (repeatedly referring to McMackin’s “stupid” comments), early attempts at damage control failed miserably. McMackin apologized profusely but ineptly, botching it by asking reporters with tape recorders running to not attribute the offensive word to him. From transcriptions of what he said, it sounds like he tried to ad lib his apology. He should’ve been reading from a carefully worded statement crafted by UH and WAC media relations personnel.
By the way, scrap the ha’a/haka already. It’s proven to be more trouble than it’s worth. Focus on playing winning football, make that a UH “tradition.”
-By Dave Reardon