We knew it was just a matter of time.
Ball State alum and prominent online journalist Jason Whitlock has come to the rescue of his alma mater, tore apart Michael Wilbon's piece on former men's basketball coach Ronny Thompson, and smacked around Thompson all at once.
In his FoxSports.com column entitled 'Real Talk,' Whitlock says what we've been saying about Thompson and that Ball State athletic department all along. Thompson was distant with fans and media. He was shady toward co-workers. He cried racism when things got bad; most of it brought on by himself.
The athletic department, headed by Tom Collins, is poorly operated. From the extra-benefits (books) violations to the firing of the women's volleyball coach to this Thompson fiasco, that office is dysfunctional.
Check out this excerpt:
The turmoil within the athletic department and Thompson's total lack of people skills combined to throw the basketball program into chaos. Thompson has claimed that the rampant stories about his poor relationships with longtime boosters, trainers, secretaries and other Ball State coaches are all exaggerated, distorted or a byproduct of racism. It's just not true.
My first meeting with Ronny Thompson was terrible. He was aloof and short with me and three of my former teammates — all black — inside a restaurant on campus. Two weeks later, Thompson saw me filling in for Wilbon on Pardon The Interruption and he called me enthusiastically, kissing my rear end and asking me to wear a Ball State basketball jersey the next time I was on PTI. I accepted his calls and forged a bit of a relationship solely out of respect to his father and my love of Ball State.
Muncie Star-Press sports writer Doug Zaleski has weighed in on Wilbon's column, basically calling it a fluff piece. This is a must read.
Thompson told Wilbon he took over a program that was at "ground zero."
"There were no jump ropes, no workout gear, no shoes, nothing," Thompson was quoted in the Wilbon column. "I'm talking nothing ... like number two Boys Club on North Capitol. I drove to a store and bought basketballs."
Thank goodness Wal-Mart was open that day. Imagine what Thompson's record would have been had he not rescued the program from this potentially catastrophic void of basketballs. The Cardinals might have lost all of their games last season instead of just a school-record 22.
Make sure you read some of the comments, too. It gives some perspective from the fans about the character of Ronny Thompson.
Here's some good stuff from The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy, too.
The Indianapolis Star has picked up the story.
And, of course, our favorite blog (besides our own, of course!) The Big Lead weighs in.
Some actual basketball fallout from Thompson's resignation has begun; two of his eight recruits signed in November will leave the program and transfer.
Also, here's a decent Ball State Daily News story on the new coach Billy Taylor and the mess he's been left with.