EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to a Washington Free Beacon piece published today under the headline, Michelle Obama’s Brother Left Oregon State’s NCAA Basketball Program in Shambles, I was reminded of a piece I published about the first lady’s brother’s coaching adventure five years ago in advance of the “Big Dance.” I share it again below.
Craig Robinson, the 47-year-old Chicago native and brother of First Lady Michelle Obama, just completed his second season as head coach of the Oregon State University Beavers men’s basketball team. Unfortunately, he seems to have been victimized by the “Obama Curse.”
Robinson was hired to replace a coach who had lead the team to a 6-25 record the previous year. He ended his first season at the helm with an 18-18 record, a vast improvement for a team accustomed to finishing at or near the bottom of the PAC-10 standings.
Never one to miss an opportunity to associate himself with success, President Barack Obama painted his brother-in-law as a rising star among NCAA Division I coaches. In a July 1, 2009, article in The Oregonian, he said the following:
“Craig Robinson is an outstanding coach. I think he’s shown that. I’m just stating facts. Anybody in Oregon and anybody who knows sports knows he turned it around. He loves Corvallis and I’m sure that as a young, successful coach he’s going to start getting offers.”
Following the 2008-09 season that gained presidential approval, Robinson lead his Beavers to a less-than-stellar 14-16 finish this season. Enter the curse:
It cost Jon Corzine in his re-election bid for governor of New Jersey, Creigh Deeds in his bid for Virginia’s governorship and Martha Coakley in her race for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts;
It cost the Kansas Jayhawks, Texas Longhorns and Kentucky Wildcats big basketball games during the month of January; and
It cost the Indianapolis Colts an even bigger game — this year’s Super Bowl against the New Orleans Saints.
At most schools, three losing seasons in a row would result in the head coach being fired. But that’s not likely to happen in this case. Instead, I predict one or more of the following actions will take place if Coach Robinson fails to break the .500 mark:
President Obama will, in exchange for their decision to keep Coach Robinson, offer Oregon State officials a “basketball bailout” in the form of federal funds earmarked for facility improvements and bumps in coaching staff salaries;
President Obama will, by executive order, change the rules of college basketball so that teams meeting federal qualifications as “disadvantaged” will receive “federal points” that can be added to the final score before a winner is determined; and
President Obama will name a college basketball czar to oversee the development of new criteria, based on factors other than win-loss records, via which teams will be selected to participate in the NCAA tournament.
Though I’m not a fan of the Beavers, I hope the team posts a winning record next season. Anything less might destroy the sport and turn the NCAA tournament (a.k.a., “The Big Dance”) into an event not befitting of buzzwords such as Sweet 16, Elite 8 and Final Four.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m ahead of my time. Sadly, Michelle Obama’s husband seems bent on following in his brother-in-law’s footsteps and leaving the nation in shambles, too.
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