Tuesday, February 14, 2012

McCaffery's Iowa outburst creates auction item

For two seasons your Hoopscribe had the pleasure of sitting at the scorer's table for home Siena men's games, immediately next to the team bench, which meant immediately next to then-Saints' coach Fran McCaffery.

It was an eye-opening experience, particularly because one in that position truly had to keep eyes open.

McCaffery is known for his passion, and maybe some emotions that went beyond that description.

The end of the scorers' table was the perfect target for McCaffery, on those semi-regular occasions when he would lose it, who often banged his plastic clipboard on the side of the table. More than one was shattered, and it was a running joke that the company that provided clipboards for the Siena coach was doing a brisk business.

Little did anyone know that, maybe, those clipboards might have been valuable.

Another inanimate object the now-Iowa basketball coach treated with similar disdain earlier this season proved to be a valuable piece of merchandise.

That would be one of his bench's chairs that, during an Iowa game at Michigan State, McCaffery slammed to the floor in an effort to fire up his team in a lopsided loss, an act of "passion" captured by TV cameras and widely viewed over the internet.

McCaffery's actions weren't viewed as favorable by Big Ten officials.

Reports indicated that league commissioner Jim Delaney said the league communicated its concern to Iowa's athletic departments about McCaffery's outburst.

McCaffery, according to an ESPN report, was largely defiant, saying he wasn't going to sit on his hands and watch his players get blown out by 40 points without "fight" and "coaching with passion."

The mini-controversy appeared to die out quickly until the infamous chair found another use recently ... as a fund-raising device.

Iowa officials recently disclosed that the chair was sold at an auction/steak fry benefiting the school's baseball program.

The chair included McCaffery's signature along with two hand-written messages "Go Hawks!" and "Coach with passion."

The price for the chair was $2,100.

Iowa's baseball coach Jack Dahm, according to reports, came up with the idea to auction off the chair so he called his counterpart at Michigan State for help in securing it. Michigan State officials agreed to mail a bench chair to Dahm, asking only that Iowa pay the $50 shipping fee.

The only catch to the arrangement was that Iowa cannot be sure the chair auctioned was the actual one McCaffery hurled to the ground in his attempt to get his team's attention. (Editor's note: Maybe he should have some real damage to it).

Still, McCaffery's autograph and hand-written messages on the chairback made it a unique, fun piece of memorabilia. Proceeds from the chair's sale will help pay for equipment and travel costs for the Iowa baseball program.

Credit McCaffery for having enough of a sense of humor about the incident to agree to the auction and autograph the chair.

But, that's a trait the coach showed regularly at Siena. Several incidents of similar "passionate" coaching that took place when he was with the Saints always quickly became fodder for his good humor once games ended.

Now, if only Siena had the foresight to have retained a couple of those shattered clipboards...

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