ESPN’s Mike Tirico criticizes Big Ten coaches’ ‘childish’ antics toward refs after Fran McCaffery’s late outburst
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery’s latest excitable example of displeasure at Big Ten officiating gave ESPN broadcaster Mike Tirico a gift-wrapped segue to a soapbox moment Tuesday night.
The veteran announcer chastised the general behavior of the league’s basketball coaches toward referees during the final minute of the 17th-ranked Hawkeyes’ 76-69 loss to Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
McCaffery abruptly moved toward the officiating crew on the court during a timeout after Aaron Craft wasn’t called for shuffling his feet on an in-bounds play with 43.9 seconds to go in the game. He later had to be guided away from the officials by one of his assistants, causing Tirico to express his disdain for coaches’ agitated demonstrations.
“Calls have gone both ways against both coaches,” Tirico began. “And I understand their anger, (but) something’s got to be done about decorum in college basketball coaches. If these guys want their players to play with poise, their actions on the sidelines — and that’s all coaches in this league — needs to be better.
“Candidly, it’s childish and embarrassing.”
Color analyst Dan Dakich, who assisted Bob Knight at Indiana for more than a decade and was a head coach himself at Bowling Green from 1997-2007, concurred with his play-by-play partner.
“As one who was a complete maniac, I agree,” Dakich quipped.
Tirico was quick to steer the tone of the complaint away from a direct attack on McCaffery, who was ejected from a 75-71 loss at Wisconsin on Jan. 5 and later forced to sit out a game by the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes’ head coach also received a technical in a 71-69 overtime loss Jan. 28 to Michigan State, another game on ESPN that had Tirico on the call.
“That is not kicking on Fran, who’s been suspended for a game,” Tirico said.
But he clearly expressed that equal expectations of dignity should be demanded of anyone involved with the play on the floor.
“You’re asking kids to play with poise,” he said of coaches. “You’ve got to do it as well.”
Perhaps in a parting shot several minutes later, Tirico pointed to McCaffery’s in-state power-conference counterpart at Iowa State as someone with a model on-court demeanor.
“Fred Hoiberg’s effective,” Tirico said, adding that the Cyclones’ leader doesn’t often respond to calls against his squad with exaggerated outbursts.