By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
So when Arizona State University's new basketball coach expresses ill-concealed contempt for his employers, it's quickly relayed to Tempe.
And when Frieder playfully indicates that Arizona is some kind of cultural backwater, that also soon becomes part of the public record here.
Frieder is a loose cannon. He talks so fast that he continually outsmarts himself. A self-centered hustler, Frieder is his own worst enemy. Nobody has to be out to get Frieder. Just give him enough time to talk. Frieder will put the gun to his own temple. Frieder already shot himself in the foot last March on a national scale. That occurred when he accepted the Arizona State coaching job only a few days before his Michigan team was to begin play in the Final Four of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament.
Incensed by Frieder's disloyalty and lack of sensitivity, Michigan's athletic director, Bo Schembechler, told Frieder to stay in Arizona.
Michigan found someone else to run the team. And without Frieder, they won the NCAA title.
Last Sunday, the New York Times reported a conversation Frieder had about the negotiations leading to his ASU basketball job.
"I played hardball with 'em," Frieder boasted to Malcolm Moran of the Times. "They said okay to everything I requested." I know we've all become numbed by sports salaries these days. But even so, Frieder's contract at ASU is something the state legislature should investigate.
Bear in mind one thing. No one pays to see Frieder stand on the sidelines with a towel on his shoulder while he shouts and screams at his players and the referees.
Nevertheless, Frieder brags that his Arizona State salary can reach $700,000 this year, with bonuses included.
The first question I'm inclined to ask is: Who is the imbecile who gave away the store?
He isn't hard to find.
For months now, Charles Harris, ASU's athletic director, has been walking about with his chest puffed out over his theft of Frieder from Michigan.
He has even been buying huge quantities of expensive space in the daily newspapers boasting about the joys the so-called Frieder era will bring. This prompts a suggestion. When law and order raises its head again at Arizona State, athletic director Harris should lead the rest forced to walk the plank. Incompetence and foolishness should still be reasons in this country to get a man sacked from a responsible job. I understand why ASU would be envious of Lute Olsen's success with the University of Arizona's basketball program. But instead of taking the high road to catch the people down in Tucson, the gullible Harris has opted for the opposite direction.
By hiring Frieder, Harris has made it clear he intends to achieve a quick fix no matter what the consequences.
Harris will embrace the philosophy made infamous by Jerry Tarkanian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Jim Valvano at North Carolina State.
The financial rewards come quickly. But the damage to the reputation of the universities is terminal. Tarkanian has always been frank about his philosophy of recruiting basketball players to UNLV.
"If you bring in a kid that can't read and write, somebody nobody will touch, and you keep him here four or five years . . . at the end if he can read and write a little, you've done him a favor." It is this philosophy that has made Las Vegas a regular camping ground for NCAA investigators.
It was also this philosophy that made ASU laughable as a university during the Frank Kush era when football players left school after four years without minimal reading skills.
Harris made it clear in recent years that he would like to go back to that period. Not long ago, Harris publicly fought to have a football player's eligibility reinstated despite failing grades.
Harris' reasoning was that the football player's only chance to make a living after school was to play professional football. Keeping him on the sidelines because of academic failures would prevent the young man from demonstrating his prowess to the pro scouts.
If you embrace the Harris theory, you are left with very little reason to have anything more on a campus than athletic facilities.
All of those classrooms, science laboratories and libraries are really unneeded. All you need are the playing fields on which to showcase the football, basketball and baseball players.
In this light, let's look at one of the many questionable clauses in Frieder's ASU contract.
For those who think that they are supposed to be running an educational institution in Tempe, the Harris-Frieder alliance has set us all on the downward path to wisdom.
Frieder receives an extra $20,000 each year his Arizona State basketball recruiting class is ranked among the Top 20 in the country by basketball organs such as the Basketball Weekly or the Basketball Times.
Last week, Frieder proudly announced he'd recruited four of the top high school basketball players in the country. Frieder expects more to sign up with him before the year ends.