“1st Day on the Job-1st Controversy”
It is Brian Dutcher’s show now at San Diego State, taking over as head coach, the first day of practice, after 17-years as the lead assistant to Steve Fisher.
Excitement about what he inherts. Ambition to put his own stamps on the program. Uncertainty as to how complete a team he has. And controversy too. As he called it the demons of basketball out there.
His first preseason press conference involved all the typical basketball questions, about his 3-return starters, led by guards Trey Kell and Jeremy Hemsley.
There were questions about the transfers coming in, the 7’1-C-Kam Rooks from Cal, and USF high scoring guard Devin Watson.
And questions about 3-young freshman, led by the highly regarded 6’9-jumping jack Jalen McDaniels.
But there were also lots of questions about the story of former Aztecs coach Tony Bland.
A transfer from Syracuse, he helped lay the ground work for all the great things Fisher built at SDSU. Then he came back and served as a Fisher assistant and a recruiter.
Gone to other jobs, noteably a 4-year stint as an assistant at USC, now Bland’s name is back in the news.
Arrested, handcuffed in Tampa;. Indicted as part of an FBI probe into pay for play scandals, involving assistants at 4-big time programs.
Felony charges Bland, plus assistants at Arizona, Oklahoma State and Auburn were part of an Adidas slush fund program. Those coaches paid money, in some cases 110,000-to steer players to certain player agents and financial advisors.
An Adidas rep was also arrested for making 6-figure payments to players to sign with schools, and then sign with agents as they headed to the NBA. Included are players who wound up on Rick Pitino’s team at Louisville.
Bland had it made as a fast track assistant coach. Why he would do this is stunning. Chuck Person, who had a great NBA career with the Indiana Pacers, was also in handcuffs last night, for doing the same at his Alma Mater-Auburn.
Bland was trapped in a sting in Las Vegas, given 13,000 to deliver to playes, and giving $9,000 to two USC players with the promise he would deliver them to a specific agent once they filed for the NBA draft.
Coaching on Andy Enfield’s new staff, that has turned around the program, the Trojans removed Bland from the coaching staff as the NCAA indictments were handed down.
Dutcher was beseiged with those questions, but had no answers. He said he worked well with Bland. There were never a hint of problems here with Bland. And that he had no knowledge that the NCAA has been on campus to question San Diego State about Bland’s tenure here.
Welcome to Day 1-of the rest of your life, answering questions about your players, your program, its history and success. Coaches hate to answer questions about what happens in the middle of the night.
Whether it is on campus at SDSU, or in this case, Tampa, with an ex Aztecs player and assistant coach, if it’s happening in the middle of the night, it’s not good news..
Tracking the Tony Bland story, with hopes it does not become part of the story of Brian Dutcher’s first year at SDSU..