Geno Auriemma, UConn Streak* Victim of Gender Bias
NEW YORK -- Geno Auriemma made coaching history Sunday. Great, now would somebody please give him a real job?
Not that coaching UConn women's team isn't legitimate employment. It's just that no matter how many games Auriemma wins, they will come with a gender-biased asterisk.
The latest: UConn 81, Ohio State 50 at Madison Square Garden. Though it wasn't exactly just another day at the slaughterhouse.
"We knew this game was special," Maya Moore said.
It was the 88th* straight win for the Huskies, reportedly tying the Division I record set by UCLA men's teams from 1971-74.
I say reportedly because most sports fans think Bill Walton and other creaky 60-somethings Bruins could still beat the current UConn team. And just because most sports fans are knuckle-dragging male chauvinists doesn't make them wrong.
It also doesn't make them right. What it inarguably does is leave them thinking Auriemma could win 888 straight games and he won't be considered one of the all-time great coaches.
Frankly, I think the Huskies could easily handle the 1972 UCLA team, especially if Walton's knees are acting up. I also think Auriemma is as good a coach as Mike Krzyzewski, Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach or Dr. James Naismith.
Sunday was just the 88th* straight example. Ohio State came in 8-1, ranked No. 10 and had absolutely no chance against Geno's Death Star.
"You don't stumble and bumble into history," Auriemma said.
Sunday's crowd of 15,232 was the largest to ever see a women's game at Madison Square Garden. UConn fans have a passion usually reserved for the fever swamps of SEC football.
If only all women's basketball programs were as vibrant. Heck, if only four or five were as vibrant, it would be a lot harder to snicker when UConn's streak is compared to UCLA's. But it's not Auriemma's fault the competition is generally about three decades behind the Huskies.
A college looking for a men's coach could do a lot worse than Auriemma, and quite a few of them have. Geno has never really pursued another job. But why haven't schools pursued Geno?
There are two major reasons: many athletic directors are closet knuckle-draggers, and there really is a difference between men's and women's basketball.
If you don't think so, you must not have seen all those missed layups and put-backs Sunday. I stopped counting at 20. Being an admitted knuckle-dragger, I ran out of fingers and toes.
As different as men's and women's basketball are, there are plenty of similarities. You don't win seven national titles if you don't know how to run a program. You don't go 7-0 in title games if you don't know Xs and Os. And you sure don't go 99-1 in your last 100 games if you don't know how to motivate human beings.
Those are the main qualities an athletic director looks for when hiring any coach, yet Auriemma's name is never seriously mentioned when men's jobs open. I don't think there should be a Rooney Rule requiring all schools to interview at least one women's coach when the men's job opens, but come on.
On resume alone, Geno would be a man among boys. He would bring national attention and unparalleled curiosity. Sure, his 745 career wins are with women. But if it's that easy to pillage and plunder, why hasn't anyone else in NCAA history done it?
Geno doesn't stay up nights hoping to get a men's job, but he'd listen if the right call came. As much as he has proven at UConn, he knows he hasn't proven a thing to a lot of people.
"It's women's sports," he said. "Some people are not going to give it the respect it's due."
It had the respect Sunday of no less than Gail Goodrich. The UCLA guard/legend was Auriemma's guest at the Garden. When Auriemma spotted him in the crowd afterward, there was a knowing look.
"They understand," Auriemma said. "We're a team. We do what teams do. We go out and play together and accomplish what teams do."
After 88* straight missions being accomplished, his team gathered at midcourt for pictures. Fans swayed as the P.A. system blared Sinatra's "New York, New York." They chanted, "88-88! 88-88!"
If Geno can make it here, it doesn't mean he can make it anywhere. But if a men's team wants to be king of the hill, why not take a chance on someone who lives there?