Jason Whitlock called into Jim Rome’s radio show this afternoon talking about Charles Barkley’s outspokenness on the Auburn coaching hire. One of the points Whitlock stressed is that Barkley should be given some credit for being openly and vocally involved with his college and for genuinely caring about what goes on there. The former Ann Arbor News columnist wrote about it on Fox Sports:
I’m glad Barkley has the courage to use his clout and platform to participate in the hiring process at Auburn. He’s engaged, and that’s good. Too many black athletes lose contact with their universities when their playing careers wrap up. They forfeit their opportunity to influence the process.
I love Sir Charles, and I’m fine with Whitlock’s take here. It is cool that Barkley cares about Auburn and its direction, whether or not you agree with the Chizik hiring. And I agree that it’s important for pro athletes to support their schools. But as Whitlock was making this argument he offered some examples to make his point and said (paraphrasing), “Where’s Charles Woodson supporting Michigan?”. [Update 12/18: Thanks to Matt, I have the audio. His exact quote is “How involved is Charles Woodson with Michigan?”]
That’s a specific blast aimed at a specific guy and by the way, it’s wrong.
You read on this site in March 2008 when the Heisman trophy winner created a $150,000 scholarship to help students needing financial assistance. Then in July of this year, Woodson promoted his wine in town with the proceeds going to Mott Children’s hospital. And that’s stuff we know about.
While you may think $150,000 and proceeds from a wine sale is nothing to a guy that has a multi-year contract with Green Bay, certainly you’d acknowledge a) there’s a stack of guys in pro sports right now who give $0 as far as we know, and b) that at a minimum it excludes Woodson from any bad list (of all professional athletes) that a reporter like Whitlock should spout.
But Whitlock said it, and now there’s a million or so folks out there on the radio who just heard a sound clip saying Woodson’s a bad guy.
Update 12/18: To Whitlock’s defense, after listening to the audio again his comment was more around guys like Woodson being there to influence/support the inclusion of African American candidates in the hiring process. But that doesn’t excuse the comment. Whether it was directed at Michigan or Woodson (or more likely, both), it’s wrong.
It’s not like Michigan didn’t include a former Heisman trophy winner and other African Americans on the coaching search committee. And U-M hired back-to-back black head coaches to lead its second biggest athletics program. As for Woodson, did Whitlock expect Chuck to play a key role in the football hiring process which coincided with the NFL playoffs last year? To me this doesn’t excuse the Woodson blast because Chuck is clearly “involved” with U-M and to contrast him with Sir Charles is unfair. I still don’t get why Whitlock took the shot at #2.