Southern Illinois athletic director Mario Moccia said one of the core reasons Barry Hinson was hired as the men's basketball coach two years ago was because the 52-year-old coach "brings passion into the equation."
Moccia admitted Hinson's passion took a wrong turn during the Salukis' postgame news conference Tuesday night – as Hinson's tirade went viral on the Internet and caused a national stir – but stood behind Hinson confidently.
Moccia said he texted Hinson at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning to discuss the coach's news conference behavior in which he frustratingly ranted about his players' lack of effort following the Salukis' 73-65 loss to Murray State.
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"I've got a bunch of mama's boys right now," Hinson told reporters at his postgame news conference. "I'm tired of coaching a guy and having him roll his eyes or put his head down or feel sorry for himself. This is big time. People lose their jobs.
"To me, when you've got a young team, it's a lot like house-training a puppy dog. You know what, when the dog does something wrong, 'bad dog.' I'm not going to hit 'em. I'm not going to swat 'em, but bad dog, get on the treadmill."
Hinson regretted the fact that he called out a specific player, saying starting guard Marcus Fillyaw was "PG-rated" and "absolutely awful," but was unapologetic for the rest of his emotional rant.
"I stand by everything I said last night, but I apologize for singling out one individual. I should be chastised for that," Hinson told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview Wednesday morning. "Let's get something straight: I didn't grab anybody, I didn't hit anybody. I didn't even use profanity. I just want my kids to play harder. You've gotta be able to criticize in this society. I want what's best for my players.
"I told my players the same (message) in the locker room in a calmer manner (Tuesday night). I believe in telling people to their face exactly how I feel. I say what's on my heart."
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Moccia spoke to Southern Illinois chancellor Rita Cheng but said the administration decided not to punish Hinson.
"We don't ever condone a coach publicly criticizing a student-athlete," Moccia told USA TODAY Sports by phone Wednesday afternoon. "I spoke to Barry about governing his passions. I've been hearing, 'Their AD is out of touch, he condones that (behavior).' No, but I recognize that's part of who Barry is. The nation doesn't know Barry. I do and I know for a fact that Barry cares about these kids, and their emotional bank accounts are full. He's demonstrated that in the last 20 months with us.
"One of the main reasons we hired Barry was because of his passion. We need a coach who will engage with the fans and be honest to them. I think he was caught up in frustration because he feels like he let people down."
Hinson said he received hundreds of supportive emails and texts from parents around the country and his coaching peers, including Kansas coach Bill Self, who gave his full support.
The reception wasn't all well received, though, particularly within SIU's team. Senior forward Davante Drinkard tweeted, "I can't believe the little man had the nerve to call us mama's boys. Smh. I guess this is where Our team learns to point the finger." And ESPN personality Tony Kornheiser labeled Hinson's behavior as an "embarrassment" to Southern Illinois University.
During Hinson's rant, he sarcastically said, "My wife — my wife! — can score more than two buckets on 11 shots because I know my wife will at least shot fake one time. ... I've been telling my wife this for years: Size doesn't matter."
"My wife was OK with everything I said except for talking about one specific player," Hinson said Wednesday.
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Hinson said his assistant coaches informed him that the YouTube clip of his news conference went viral on the Internet late Tuesday night but he was taken off-guard by the national attention.
"I'm so old school, I thought viral meant you were getting sick," Hinson said. "I know it's a firestorm and I'm on ESPN. I told my (athletic department) I'll handle this like a big boy and take responsibility."
"Look, I'm like this 24/7, this is part of who I am," Hinson added. "I'm passionate about what I do. I'm passionate about my players and my program. You know what? It gets the better of me sometime. ...Everyone who knows me, knows this is who I am."
The Salukis (2-8) have lost four in a row and own the worst record in the Missouri Valley Conference. SIU was 14-17 (6-12 in the MVC) during Hinson's first season last year. Hinson, the longtime coach at Missouri State, was thrown out of a game against Illinois State last season. In response to the ejection, the Salukis won six of their last nine games. He's hoping this season's outburst serves as a similar "alarm clock" for his team.
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