The “administrative leave” of Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino has done many things to the city of Louisville and the UL fanbase. But what might have been most interesting yesterday was the reaction (and relief) of some in the media with their departures, especially that of Jurich. UL color commentator Bob Valvano, also a radio host in Louisville, said Jurich had treated him like “dog crap” for upwards of 10 years. If you listen the Valvano’s show, and just his general connection to the university for over a decade, you would know that he is as big a UL supporter as any. But he also plays no favorites and thus when UL needed to be criticized, I am sure he did. Somewhere along the line, that must have pissed off Jurich.
The Big EZ, Zach McCrite, former producer for KSR, told the story about how Jurich essentially blocked his employment in radio in Louisville. He blackballed him. Why? Because EZ dared to criticize some game at some time in some year.
You can really feel that many in media have felt the strain of the Jurich bullying over the last 20 years. But then you might ask “but I thought the media in Louisville protected him?” If he was so terrible to them, why did they protect him? Well, the answer can somewhat be explained in this article that I came across on twitter this morning. It is written by Chadd Scott, who didn’t work in the city in Louisville but his wife, also a sports writer, was doing a story on Jurich. Jurich offered to “show them around” and then:
I write he was “frantically” driving us around because he was late — we were late — for dinner. Unbeknownst to us, Jurich had included us in his dinner plans at one of Louisville’s finest restaurants where we would be joined by his wife, who we’d never met previously, and two long-time family friends of theirs, who we’d obviously never met previously.
He included us in his dinner plans with his wife and two old personal friends and we’d known the man for a couple hours.
That’s the Tom Jurich I know.
OK, so maybe Jurich is just very hospitable, right? No reason to rip the guy for that. The article continues:
Tom Jurich invited us to fly on the team charter to the UConn football game the following season. My wife couldn’t go, but I went. We’ve met dozens of athletic directors, none have offered anything remotely similar.
I sat across from Charlie Strong on the team charter, stayed in the team hotel, ate dinner with his staff, didn’t go to my wallet once, and left the trip with hundreds of dollars of Louisville gear I didn’t ask for, but Jurich insisted I accept because he didn’t want me not to feel like a part of the group.
That’s the Tom Jurich I know.
To me, a journalist should NEVER feel like “part of the group”. A journalist should feel like an outsider. Nonetheless, we haven’t gotten to the gold standard of lines written about Tom Jurich:
He loves people. He collects people. He loves doing favors for people and helping people and believes the best in people — to a fault (see everything).
HE. COLLECTS. PEOPLE. A journalist actually wrote that line and considered it a compliment! He was too blinded by all of the goodies and tours and dinners and plane rides and “help” that Tom Jurich gave him to recognize he was being played. Do you really think that Chadd Scott was ever going to seriously criticize Tom Jurich after that? Of course not.
Even now, after multiple MAJOR scandals in the main program at UL, Scott still manages to write a “why Tom Jurich is great” article. And that is what Jurich wanted all along.