Thursday, April 5, 2007

Mitch Mustain's mother is a shrieking harpy... right?

One of the first things you learn when you become a lawyer, if you haven't already learned it in law school (or earlier), is that there are always two sides to a story, and often more. Sometimes, when you only hear one side of it, or only know parts of the story, one side appears to be almost monstrous in its wrong-headedness.

Then you hear the rest of the story.


If you haven't heard the story, the basic narrative goes like this. Mitch Mustain was a 5-star quarterback out of Springdale High School in Arkansas. He was one of the very highest rated recruits of the 2006 class. He was also a local boy for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, he wasn't a lock for Arkansas. to make matters even more complicated, he had a couple high school receiver teammates who were also D-1 calibre recruits, all of whom Arkansas wanted to sign. As a gimmick to help get them signed, they hired the kids' high school coach to be offensive coordinator. He was known for his wide open passing style as a high profile high school coach.

Mustain and the rest signed with Arkansas. Their freshman year was last year. Mustain started about half the season, splitting time with Casey Dick. The team had its most successful season in quite some time based on the strength of its awesome rushing attack behind Heisman runner-up Darren McFadden and Felix Jones (possibly the 2nd best running back in the conference behind McFadden). Mustain? Wasn't very effective. But he did win ever game he started (an overrated statistic for a QB, in my opinion).

At the end of the regular season, Mitch Mustain's mother and the other Springdale parents held a meeting with the Arkansas athletic director to complain about the team's style of play, claiming they didn't pass enough. This meeting eventually got out into the public knowledge, drawing intense criticism from all corners. Parents shouldn't be controlling how a D-1, BCS school runs its teams, should it? Mustain and his mother became a laughing stock. He eventually left the team, along with at least one of the other Springdale players. The high school coach, Gus Malzahn, also left after one year to go to Tulsa.

Like I said earlier, that's one side of the story, with incomplete information. Read the link above to the rest of the story. I don't know if his account is true or not, but I know that things are almost never how they initially seem.

You almost can't just quote from the article posted above. You have to read it as a whole. Upon doing so, you get the following story:

Houston Nutt hired Gus Malzahn strictly as a gimmick to sign the Springdale players, lying to them all along about his intentions with respect to the offense. He deliberately set up Malzahn to fail by running his offense against USC, one of the best teams in the country, and declaring it a failure immediately. He then stripped Malzahn of most responsibility for the offense and reconverted the team back to a strict pro-style running team. To make matters worse, he burned Mustain's redshirt in order to stem the tide of criticism against HIMSELF. Mustain wanted to redshirt all along to get five years in the system. Nutt then proceeded to sabotage Mustain's development by refusing to allow Mustain to run passing drills in practice, despite the fact that Mustain was the starting QB. This lack of respect even extended to the equipment manager, who refused to provide Mustain with well-fitting shoes, leading to blisters and back problems. Mustain's relationship with Nutt deteriorated steadily over the course of the season, as did the relationship between Malzahn and the rest of the team.

In the end, Malzahn was coordinator in name only. Mustain was wanted only for his name, while his talent was resented and his skill undeveloped. Then came the meeting with the AD, which was to discuss many topics, including the disrespect shown to the players and the lies told to them. The whole thing was supposed to be confidential, but this confidentiality wasn't kept, and information was released, selectively, to make the Springdale parents look as bad as possible. After all, how can they complain about not passing enough when McFadden and Jones were so good?

Anyway, give it a read. You won't regret it.

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