So, Pitt was routed by Louisville on Tuesday night but the bigger story seems to be what he reportedly said to Cardinals fans during the game.
Kevin Stallings to fans: “at least we didn’t pay our kids 100 thousand dollars”— Lyndsey Gough (@LGonTV) January 3, 2018
This, by the way happened not once, but twice, according to Gough.
Stallings was, of course, referring to Louisville recruit Brian Bowen, who is believed to have been paid $100,000 by the school, according to reports.
To be fair to Stallings and in the interest of full disclosure here, he said that fans were saying something about his players. He declined afterward to elaborate. Here was Stallings’ response in the presser in case you wanted to see/hear it for yourself.
Pitt's Kevin Stallings on why he told Louisville fans 'at least we don't pay our players $100,000'— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 3, 2018
'I probably said the wrong thing but I'm not going to let people talk crap about my players'
(via @ericcrawford) pic.twitter.com/rE8fW2WzCx
And with national media picking up on this already, you can expect it to only grow from here.
January 3, 2018
Afterward, Louisville coach David Padgett was asked about it. Unlike Stallings, he actually had the correct response.
Padgett: “it’s not anything we’re going to talk about or pay attention to.” https://t.co/rggPD085OG— Lyndsey Gough (@LGonTV) January 3, 2018
In case you’re wondering as a Pitt fan, no, this isn’t acceptable.
I can understand Stallings wanting to defend his players if things were, in fact, said. And when you consider that he’s repeatedly said this year that he has to treat these guys with a little more care because it’s a freshman-dominated team, it makes even more sense. Heat of the moment, getting blown out in an ugly game, I get it.
/whispers But you still can’t say that, coach.
In all honesty, I’ve never been a big Stallings guy but as I’ve said numerous times this year, he deserves a chance (like any coach) to run the program the way he wants. What shouldn’t be acceptable, though, is stooping to the level of fans. Fans are nuts and often shout irrational things at games. We’ve all heard it and, in some cases, have said dumb things ourselves. But coaches have to be bigger than that. They shouldn’t be publicly saying anything remotely what Stallings is reported to have said and they should even be cautious about saying anything privately in this new crazy world of social media.
The biggest problem I have here is that Stallings is not only the coach of the team, he’s a full-fledged representative of the university. Taking it a step further, the men’s basketball coach is often the biggest or second biggest representative at any school. When you have that kind of a platform, you have to be even more guarded.
I’m interested to see where this goes. Does Stallings get fired purely for this comment? No. And to be honest, coaches have said and done dumber things, obviously. But when you couple the bad attention this will get with the embarrassing state of a program that was competing for Final Fours inside of a decade ago, it’s not going to help him buy more time.
Simply put, Stallings has to know better.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.