Hawaii football coach Todd Graham still has job despite numerous complaints of abusive behavior

Todd Graham, “hands down the worst guy I’ve ever met in my life,” says one player.
Image: AP

Todd Graham answers the question that absolutely no one was asking.

What if there was a version of Urban Meyer that didn’t really win?

While Meyer himself answered this question in his NFL stint last year, Graham, the University of Hawaii football manager, gives us the NCAA answer we weren’t waiting for.

In a state Senate hearing Friday night on the state of Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors football program, the toxic culture that Graham somehow managed to foster in just two seasons was laid bare by distraught former players. After losing 19 players to the transfer portal and being called, among other things, “a tyrant” and “arguably the worst guy I’ve ever met in my life,” Graham’s boss, the athletic director of Hawaii David Matlin, decided it was time to get down and swing for this dude.

According to a relationship from Atletico, Matlin listened to hours of player testimony about Graham’s verbal abuse and mental health issues resulting from his behavior, the athletic director decided to tell the virtually assembled group of players, families and state senators, “not all that was. said it was true, “and then proceeded to complain that testimony was allowed. Former athletes and their families were uncovering their hearts, talking about how their love of football had waned due to Graham’s overly poor treatment of his players which could only really be described as bullying, and Matlin has them. deleted.

As I have repeated several times on this site, these “student-athletes” are already in a largely helpless position, thus depriving them of the simple ability to openly share their experiences regarding the alleged verbal abuse of a coach and feel rather listened to. that having their problems wiped out is just a terrible move on Matlin’s part. He’s defending a manager who went 11-11, and while that certainly doesn’t mean offensive behavior is acceptable in cases where a team is successful, it’s a bit of a mystery where Matlin’s motivation for this defense lies.

Graham’s purchase price, which the university has never even come close to paying to get a coach out, could play a role in this. But when asked, Matlin would say that even if the school could afford the takeover, it wouldn’t go that route. So while this was a public meeting with the state senators who will fight for these athletes, you have no choice but to wonder how many of these cases have gone under the rug over the years as players try to report abusive behavior to superiors. , only being told that they are lying, or that it will be okay, or getting no response.

For example, Meyer’s true colors showed up when Jaguars players publicly shared the type of coach he was, but the only reason was because he had entered the pros. College players have far less power, no income, and are desperate for a chance for the NFL, which means getting time to play and being on the good side of the manager. This audition was also made up of former players, arguably the safest option for current players, as Matlin and Graham seem to have no intention of making a major change to the schedule after hearing these testimonials.

In light of this, it’s even more frustrating when Kirk Herbstreit makes comments like last week’s, extending judgment to players who skip pétanque matches and saying they don’t have the “love” for the game that they should, or when it does. people complain that the transfer portal gives players too much freedom. These are some of the few forms of freedom they have within the NCAA system, and with cases like this, I have no doubt that athletes should be able to leave a Todd Graham situation without suffering serious consequences.

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