In general, really old stuff on the Internet tends to age poorly. We’ve changed as a society — mostly for the better — and what may have been acceptable in the days of the iPod Touch doesn’t quite fly in 2018.
So if you dig back and look for some early work from the most mockable columnists of today, you find some gems. It just so happens that Bill Simmons — a modern-day Mr. Dink who thinks he’s Gavin Belson — has one of the best (and most problematic) I’ve ever seen, and it’s related to mid-major basketball. Holy Cross, to be exact.
The first half of it, while hilarious and wrong, isn’t all that offensive, so let’s start there. Here’s the lede:
My readers have sent me some crazy e-mails over the past decade. I’ve been invited to weddings, bachelor parties and high school proms. I’ve been asked to kill myself, have sex with myself and repeatedly punch myself in the face. I’ve received naked photos of girlfriends and had a corrections officer ask for my address so he could send me a used prison shank. Even crazier, I gave it to him.
We’re going to have to see that prison shank, Bill. Just tweet a pic of it. Also, if you asked Bill Simmons to prom, please come forward. We would like to interview you and perhaps buy you a milkshake.
Now I have some small quibbles with the rest of the first half of this column, like how Holy Cross isn’t supposed to win NCAA Tournament games, so he can shut up. Or how the NCAA Tournament consisted of eight teams in the days of Bob Cousy, so no he was not psyched when they made the non-existent Round of 64.
There’s also this:
Now that full scholarships have been reinstated for basketball, and with only Bucknell challenging us for that automatic bid every winter, the Cross should be landing top New England recruits and emulating Gonzaga’s success out West
Why, exactly? Because Holy Cross was good once in the 1940s? I guess that makes sense. After all, just look at national powers San Francisco and CCNY. This is actually something we see pretty often — other mid-majors saying they want to be the “Gonzaga of ____.” It’s fair to want to do that. Also, let’s give Bill props for actually knowing what part of the country Gonzaga is in.
Mark Few has turned the Bulldogs into annual Final Four contenders, basically out of nowhere. But, uh, you have to have the money, infrastructure, and administration to make that happen. Holy Cross has none of that. And that’s OK! They shouldn’t have to! It’s not who they are!
You can’t blame the students for turning into soccer moms; they weren’t there when the Cross was respected athletically and don’t know any better.
What the hell does that mean?
You can’t blame coach Ralph Willard, who loses every blue-chip scholar-athlete to the Ivies and every big-time recruit to the Big East or ACC; he’s clearly a glutton for punishment. So what’s the problem then?
Imagine being a Patriot League school and losing recruits to UConn or Boston College or Maryland! That’s inexcusable!
Anyway, on to his proposals to fix the Crusaders, which are almost all problematic as hell:
1. Give one scholarship every two years to a stud recruit who has no business getting into the school. Even if he can’t read the scoreboard, we don’t care. Think of it as an investment: For 120 grand and a few professors looking the other way, we gain exposure, make some serious TV money and lift campus spirits. It worked for BC, it can work for us.
Love too openly campaign for my school to ignore NCAA rules. It is, in fact, good. Also, what stud recruit in his right mind is going to go to Holy Cross, regardless of whether he can get in? This hypothetical stud recruit should do what all the stud recruits did in 2007: have someone take their SATs for them and lead Memphis to the National Championship game.
2. Replace Willard with a disgraced coach looking for a second chance, someone who doesn’t mind bending a rule or 10 to get the program humming. Think Todd Bozeman or Larry Eustachy. In exchange, the Jesuit priests can offer around-the-clock availability to take the coach’s confession. This is a guy who’d deserve to have his soul saved from eternal damnation.
To be fair, at the time this was written, you can reasonably argue that Eustachy should have gotten a second chance after seeking treatment. But hoooo boy did this suggestion not age well.
Then there’s Bozeman. If you’re not familiar, Bozeman was forced to resign from Cal and was given an eight-year show-cause order from the NCAA in 1996. His admission to paying a recruit’s parents $30,000 can be forgiven — or at least you can justify giving him another shot after that. But the sexual harassment complaint and alleged lewd and threatening phone calls made to a female student? Maybe best not to openly campaign for bringing him on campus and do what he wants while saying the priests can hang around to hear his confessions.
3. Get the new coach a plane ticket to Cameroon. It’s apparently a basketball hotbed now -- every mid-major seems to have one Cameroonian. So let’s get on that. “Coach Eustachy, you’re booked at the Cameroon Holiday Inn for the month of May. Go find us a rebounder.”
I don’t want to make light of racial stereotypes, no matter how bizarre (and seemingly complimentary?) they might be, but forget about that for one second. You don’t need me to explain that to you. Think about this instead: IF 2007 BILL SIMMONS HAD HIS WAY, HE TOTALLY WOULD HAVE BROUGHT JOEL EMBIID TO HOLY CROSS. This is what I choose to believe and you cannot convince me otherwise. You know what, maybe this was a good column after all.
4. Remember when Swish dressed as a guy in “Fast Break?” We’ll convince a WNBA player to come back to school at the Cross as a “man.” I’d give you more detail on this one, but I can’t name a single WNBA player.
Nope. Never mind. This is not good. At all. And this probably looks worse today than anything else in the column to this point.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you to watch the WNBA. If it’s your thing, great. If not, there are plenty of other ways to spend your time. I also don’t need to go into how problematic Simmons’ statement here is. I don’t read much of his stuff now, but I hope he doesn’t use his platform to belittle a league that has done so much good for so many women and is still struggling with fending off garbage like this.
5. Pay Playboy big bucks for a “Girls of the Patriot League” spread. It’s just the kind of propaganda that lures potential recruits. Of course, we’ll outsource our posing duties to top models so our female coeds aren’t humiliated, suspended, stalked by Coach Eustachy or sentenced to eternal damnation. To help our cause, the other Patriot League schools will be “represented” by villagers from Kazakhstan, although Bucknell will be given the option to use its actual coeds.
JESUS BILL. HOW WERE YOU ALLOWED TO WRITE THIS? HOW? In one point here, Simmons manages to degrade women, make light of Eustachy being a creep, say something racist about Kazakhstanis, and say it’s OK for female Bucknell students to pose for Playboy in order to draw recruits to his alma mater. This is the kind of stuff that people wrote in their high school paper in 2004 that ultimately got them fired in 2015.
6. Make me an unofficial “friend of the program.” Then I’ll start a pen pal correspondence the NCAA would frown upon with any top-200 prep prospect in the class of 2008 who e-mails me his address. Ever open an unmarked envelope that contained a wad of $100 bills? It could happen to you! Repeatedly. I want to be a booster. I want to break rules. I want to make a difference.
Bill Simmons aspires to have the bag, and honestly that’s the most relatable thing in his entire column.
7. You know how Greg Oden is taking History of Rock and Roll right now? Well, Holy Cross has that class too, but why stop there? We need to make other additions to to our 2008 curriculum: Plagiarizing Other People’s Fiction, “The Hills” vs. “Laguna Beach,” Gum, Madden NFL 08 and BC’s Greatest Gambling Fixes.
Who put Bill Simmons in charge of scheduling classes at North Carolina? AMIRITE FOLKS?
Good God, Bill. Why were you allowed to do anything after this was published?
The friggin’ Sports Guy.