Twelve months. Two programs. Two young coaches trying desperately to break into their profession and stay there. Two decisions. Two radically different outcomes. Multiple tragedies.
In the late summer of 2003 brand new Baylor men's basketball assistant Abar Rouse turned in his boss, Dave Bliss, because Rouse would not participate in a cover-up that would eventually ruin the program.
Rouse has been blackballed ever since.
Sometime in 2002, Penn State football graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary walked into his team's locker room and allegedly saw his team's former defensive coordinator sexually assaulting a young boy.
McQueary was a former Penn State quarterback who had a tryout with the Oakland Raiders, and certainly was big enough to physically challenge a man well over 50 as he sexually assaulted a kid.
McQueary left, called his dad, told his boss, and went back to work.
McQueary has been promoted ever since.
The examples provided by Rouse and McQueary are flagrant examples of just how shameless big-time college athletics has become and the lengths people will go to protect the norm, and promotion.
In the summer of '03 Rouse had just been hired as a foot-in-the-door assistant with the Bears when forward Patrick Dennehy was shot and killed by teammate Carlton Dotson.
A large investigation of the entire program was already under way by the time Bliss asked his assistant coaches to cover up and to lie to investigators, to say that Dennehy had been dealing drugs to pay for school.
This had nothing to do with covering up a killing. This was about being complicit with Bliss' lies to the NCAA about his improperly paying Dennehy's tuition, and for failing to report players' failed drug tests.
Whatever his motivation, Rouse secretly taped a conversation with Bliss about this, which appeared in this newspaper. In the grand scheme of the NCAA, Baylor's transgressions were so egregious and improper that they nearly resulted in the NCAA's death penalty.
Rouse was either unable to rationalize what his boss was doing, or he wanted him to fry because he did not like him. Both are plausible.
For his actions Rouse has been all but eliminated from his profession. He, along with everybody else from that Baylor staff, left. He briefly worked as a graduate assistant at Midwestern State. The head coach there now, Nelson Haggerty, said Wednesday that he's not sure where Rouse is but that he heard he went to Louisiana and wanted to get back to Dallas.
One Division I men's basketball coach in Texas said he thought Rouse was still living in Wichita Falls. He also thought there was a "murkier" reason, beyond this Baylor scandal, that Rouse has been unable to break back into the profession.
Attempts to find Rouse were unsuccessful.
McQueary, meanwhile, continues his job as a coach at one of the most prestigious, and until the last few weeks, most pristine football programs in America.
Around the same time Rouse was being jettisoned from his profession, McQueary began moving up in his.
The year after he witnessed Jerry Sandusky sexually assault a minor, he spent the next season as an administrative assistant for Joe Paterno, and the following year was promoted to his current role of wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.
McQueary has been in this job for eight years, but it is hard to envision how he can remain in that position after his grand jury testimony revealed he saw what he saw and did the minimum. Reach a certain age and most of us have likely all rationalized something we wish we could undo; I don't know how you wrestle with something like this.
On Wednesday, Penn State trustees fired Paterno and university President Graham Spanier hours after Paterno announced that he planned to retire after the season.
There is some debate as to whether McQueary will coach in Saturday's final home game against Nebraska.
There should be no debate as to which of these assistants, Rouse or McQueary, did the right thing.
Whatever his motivation was, and whatever type of coach he was, Rouse at least did the right thing by not being another Division I men's basketball or football coach patsy.
The story of these two assistants paints a clear message about the current condition of big-time college football or men's basketball that appears will have no solution: Protect and serve the best interests of the head coach, even in the face of a criminal and amoral tragedy, and you may just get promoted.
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Mac Engel, 817-390-7697