"The press is the enemy." President Richard M. Nixon.
There is no poll declaring the least popular coach in the Big East. That doesn't stop most from assuming that it would be Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez in a runaway. The excitable, brash and often obnoxious Gonzo is loathed by fans of other teams, disliked by most of his peers, continually berating refs, been chastised by the Big East Commissioner, and suspended for the start of the Big East season this year by his own athletic director.
Really that's quite a list in a little more than two years at Seton Hall.
Now it appears Gonzalez can add the media to that list of those with a distaste for him.
Okay, the paranoid Gonzalez already felt the media was against him, but with this broadside by Adam Zagoria there is little doubt.
Gonzo made these threats once in an expletive-filled, three-way phone call with one of his assistants last Friday, and a second time in front of several Seton Hall staff members in a hallway at the Prudential Center after the Pirates beat Columbia on Sunday.
"Who the f--- are you?" Gonzalez screamed into the phone at me last week, with his assistant on the line. "Who the f--- do you think you are? I'll cut you off. I'll cut you off from my players." He also said he would somehow find a way to cut me off from the AAU coaches whose players consider Seton Hall.
That same scene was essentially repeated after the Columbia game with Gonzalez threatening to cut off SNY, the official home of the Big East Conference, with several staff members looking on.
But it's par for the course for Gonzo. He has also verbally abused and threatened my colleagues at SNY as well as writers from ESPN.com, SI.com, The Star-Ledger and the Courier News.
And that doesn't even cover what he says openly about The New York Post, which he tells everyone has an "agenda."
Zagoria is a reporter for SNY.tv, and a regular personality on SNY -- which has an exclusive deal with the Big East.
As is typical for any team where the coach or the program does not get positive treatment, the Seton Hall fans are behind Gonzalez and blame Zagoria for this. They accuse Zagoria for being unprofessional and running a hit piece on the coach. They point to coaches like Bobby Knight, Jim Calhoun and Rick Pitino as coaches who have engaged in similar behavior.
On the latter point, one commentor had a good response (a la Bull Durham) to that sort of argument.
Bottom line is this: Act like Gonzo and win, and you're 'colorful' and 'passionate.' Act like Gonzo and don't win, and you might find yourself looking for a job fairly soon. . .
Gonzo is definitely not winning.
As for the issue of Zagoria's professionalism, frankly this is refreshing. Everyone now knows what happened between the reporter and Gonzo. He didn't cover it up and then just take passive shots every time he would write about Gonzalez as many other writers do with a person they dislike.
Gonzalez had to labor for many years at Manhattan of the MAAC. This despite getting a squad to the NCAA Tournament a couple times and even upsetting Florida before getting a shot with Seton Hall. The stories have always been that his personality and behavior has held him back. Since he was in the MAAC, though, few took note. He's on a much bigger stage in the biggest conference. People notice now.