Towson football saga: Rob Ambrose is guilty of being tough…as are all quality coaches in sports

October 23, 2012 | Drew Forrester

Towson football saga: Rob Ambrose is guilty of being tough…as are all quality coaches in sports

Suddenly, Towson University football is in the spotlight.

In 2011, it was for an upstart season that literally saw the school go from bottom of the barrel to top of the league in one of the most shocking single-season turnarounds ever.

Now, head coach Rob Ambrose is on the hot seat for some alleged non-compliance issues surrounding practice time and a couple of malcontents who suddenly decided they no longer wanted to hear the coach’s foul language while running laps at 6am.

I’ll handle this the way I deal with everything else here at WNST.net.  I’ll give you the truth and the story-behind-the-story.  You won’t find this at The Sun and you most certainly won’t hear this on the FM station in town because most of the people on the air over there wouldn’t know how to get Johnny Unitas Stadium or the Towson Center if you gave them a GPS and a free meal for showing up.

If you’re interested in knowing the truth, here it comes.

First, let me offer a friendly reminder of how sports works.  This isn’t meant to endorse the practices that take place in the locker room or on the field, but it’s just the way things go.  There’s an old saying when guys or gals hop on a plane and head to “Sin City” for a bachelor or bachelorette party — “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  It’s seedy and dirty and almost comical that the Las Vegas visitor’s bureau markets themselves as a destination to forget about your core values, but that’s what they do and, frankly, it probably works wonders for their revenue stream.

Substitute the word “locker room” in place of “Vegas” and there you have the sports theme.

“What happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.”  Or, it should.

Think back to the scene in A Few Good Men when Private Santiago reported one of his peers for an illegal fence line shooting.  He was dealt with by the two young Marines on trial because he violated the credo — “what happens in the field, stays in the field.”

It’s the same thing going on at Towson, except no one ordered a code red.

And no one got hurt.

Ever.

The two young men who stepped forward – only one was willing to publish his name, if that matters to you – suggested that Ambrose filed incorrect practice time logs in an effort to hide from the compliance folks that he was “over-practicing” his football team.  They also claimed that Ambrose used inappropriate and foul language, most notably prior to the team’s September 18 home game vs. Saint Frances.

Always remember this:  Just because someone says “this is what happened” doesn’t actually mean that’s what happened.  It might mean that’s what you PERCEIVED happened…but that doesn’t mean it went that way in real-life.  We at WNST – and me, specifically – found that out nearly two years ago when a former media member in town filed a completely baseless and fraudulent lawsuit against the station.  Immediately there were folks in town who said, “Did you hear what those guys at WNST did to xxx-xxxxx?”  Well, as it turned out some 6 months later, we didn’t really “do” anything.  Once of the odor of $800,000 disappeared because there wasn’t any REAL evidence in place to support such a lawsuit, the whole case was suddenly dropped like a Lee Evans touchdown catch in the AFC championship game.  So, I know firsthand about the whole issue of “just because someone says this is what happened doesn’t necessarily mean that’s really what happened.”

Now, these two young men who stepped forward (and there are rumors that others are in the process of perhaps doing the same thing in the next day or two) obviously felt strongly enough about their “case” that it led them to go public with all of it.

Are they wrong for bringing those issues to light?

They’re not wrong, per-se.  Sure, they might have violated the unwritten rule that most college and professional sports abide by which, as I noted above, is to consider things that happen “in the family” need to stay in the family.

But if they felt as if they were in danger, somehow, they had every right to “report” their coach.

The fact of the matter is that at no time were those two players or anyone else ever in danger or was their health ever at risk.

Here’s what I know about Rob Ambrose.  He’s a tough coach.  He wants to win.  And he’s one of the biggest reasons why Towson has been winning over the last 13 months.

I also know he’s loud and over-bearing and very capable of salty language…sort of like the Wyoming coach who lost his mind last weekend when they lost a close game to Air Force.

Is Rob Ambrose capable of lashing out at kids who are late, not paying attention or insubordinate, as one of his star players was just an hour or so prior to last Saturday’s game against Old Dominion?  Absolutely.  Guess what?  Coach K at Duke is not only capable of doing the exact same thing, he wrote Chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the book on “How to scream at your players and still love them and get the best out of them.”

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8 Comments For This Post

  1. charlie Says:

    good for you, drew. this does sound like malcontents who want to get noticed by denigrating towson’s recent grid success. you are right on. it’s good for towson to have a winning team, and ambrose is a winning coach. what’s better, losing but having your coach speak sweetly, or winning even if (because?) he’s tough? duh!

  2. Vince Fiduccia Says:

    Thanks Drew for a great article. A couple of immature and disgruntled teenagers cannot tarnish the amazing job Coach Ambrose and his staff has done at Towson. I hope the other players take care of these nitwits behind closed doors. This is just another example of the lack of respect our society has for authority. Sadly, it is two people blaming others for their own failures.

  3. TimNATC Says:

    We want Rob Ambrose in that position & most people cant handle the truth! Drew you are dead on with this. Rob Ambrose is an excellent coach and an even better person. I have spoken with athletic administrators at Towson and they would do anything to keep him or if they were at another school they would do anything to get him! The disgruntled players need to either get over it or leave the team it’s that simple. I for one would not want them on my team they are a cancer!

  4. P Gavin Says:

    Disgruntled athletes?? Who knew such creatures even existed. Probably think that Coach is ruining their chance at the NFL. Delusional… but probably were raised that way. I see it in youth sports all the time. Parents ask “How can my Johnny get better?” I tell them to read a book and study hard in school.

  5. justafan Says:

    Salty language is common in all sports. I sometimes sat directly behind the players bench at Clippers Hockey games. Some of the language coming from the bench was so “colorful” I would laugh so hard that tears would come from my eyes. I’m sure you could share some similar experiences with Kenny Cooper during your Blast days. If the Towson Football players are so offended by Coach Ambrose’s remarks, they had better learn to suck it up because if they have any thoughts of playing at a higher level, the language they hear will not get any better; in fact it might be worse!

  6. Chuck Smolkin Says:

    Drew,
    As a former high school English teacher, I am always impressed with the quality of your writing. Who taught you? Give him/her credit on your radio show.
    I listen every morning, and used to listen again at midnight. Thank you.

  7. B. Eaton Says:

    Drew
    Great article.Now living in Florida so I try to keep up through the NST web site.
    It is unfortunate for a lot members of the team and the coaching staff that due to the lack of character and pride possessed by these individuals there will be a circus surrounding the football program for the foreseeable future.

  8. Laker Boy Says:

    Generally I agree with your opinions Drew, but just a couple of thoughts for you and the readership ponder. It seems like every summer we read about young athletes who have dropped dead due to heat exhaustion brought on by over exertion. Perhaps some were dehydrated, or perhaps their genetic make up made them pre-disposed to heat related problems, but routinely athletes pushed to their limits experience negative outcomes. Those types of situations occur, and “tough” coaches should be regulalry reminded about that potential. As for the cursing…there are some successful college programs, albeit they may be anomolies, who do not employ coaches who curse at their student athletes. BYU and Liberty University fall into that category. Lastly, I think that the notion that no one should discuss problems pertaining to the locker room, fosters an environment like we just witnessed at Penn State. I would be willing to wager that the kids brutalized by Jerry Sandusky wish that someone in a position of power would have spoken up years before an Assistant Coach witnessed first hand what folks “in the know” may have known for years. Those people in power acted with the mentality, “What happens in Happy Valley, stays in Happy Valley”. Of course, the Towson sitaution is no where near as horrific as PSU, but the same lack of principle is strikingly similar. (DF: Great point about Happy Valley and the locker room situation there…they are obviously much different in scale. What was going on up there was a crime. What happens in virtually every other locker room – as I noted – is NOT a crime. It’s Tom-Foolery…hi-jinx. Practical jokes, discussion of sex, drugs, etc. That’s what I meant by “what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room”. But your point about Penn State is VERY valid.)

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