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And Another Thing

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Associated Press
Trent Mays, 17, left, Ma'lik Richmond, 16, before their conviction in Steubenville.

A culture run amok

Regular Blobophiles ought to know by now that the Blob has been historically averse to the firing of coaches. That's especially true at the high school level, where 35 years of experience has taught the guy driving this sentence that there are far more coaches out there doing it the right way than not.

That said ... Reno Saccoccia needs to go. Because the culture he represents is rotten to the core.

He's the head football coach in Steubenville, Ohio, infamous as the home of a handful of vicious little sociopaths who dragged a semi-conscious girl from drunken party to drunken party last August, assaulting her sexually and -- this being the social media teens -- getting it all down on video. Two of these charming examples of high character and top-shelf morals just got sent up for rape, and good riddance to bad rubbish.

Saccoccia's role in this?

That's where it really gets disgusting.

Rather than punish any and all football players involved -- if for nothing else, being out drunk at 4 in the morning -- Saccoccia, according to numerous accounts, not only did nothing, he went out of his way to make the whole thing go away. He even provided character testimony on behalf of the two young men who got sent up -- and threatened a snoopy reporter who wondered why he hadn't punished any of the players involved.

"You're going to get yours," the reporter quoted him. "And if you don't get yours, somebody close to you will."

Why is this guy not gone?

Well, the rest of the story is that Saccoccia is a local legend. In more than three decades at Steubenville, he's won three state titles and more than 300 games, and he's in the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame. And when he prowls the sideline on Friday nights in the fall, he does so on a patch of ground named after him; the field was christened "Reno Field" in 2007.

Yet today he represents failure, not achievement. Failure to exert control. Failure to teach his charges that playing high school football is a privilege, not a right. Failure to snuff out a culture of entitlement instead of feeding and encouraging that culture.

It's time for the decent citizens of Steubenville to teach this guy he's not entitled, either, no matter how many games he's won. Time to show him the road, give the program a much-needed fumigation, and start doing things the right way again.

There are plenty of coaches out there who'll do that, given the chance. I know. I happen to know several.

Ben Smith's blog.

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