11/17/2008 2:37 PM ET
Zagoria: Gonzo being Gonzo
Excitable coach is, well, excited
By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv
Bobby Gonzalez has not been afraid to ruffle some feathers during his time as head coach at Seton Hall. (AP)

NEWARK, N..J. -- Gonzo Being Gonzo.

It's kind of like Manny Being Manny.

Except Manny Ramirez just loafed around a baseball field.

Seton Hall coach Bobby "Gonzo" Gonzalez is openly threatening to extinguish the free press unless it bends under his dictatorial will.

Twice in recent days Gonzalez has openly threatened to cut off this reporter and SNY from covering his team because of comments I made during a recent interview with WSOU, Seton Hall's student radio station, the full transcript of which is available on my blog for anyone to read.

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."

An agenda? No one's out to get Gonzo.

We're simply reporting what's going on around the team.

He blames the media, the other coaches and sometimes even his own hardworking assistants and players for his recruiting situation.

Twice I asked Gonzalez -- once during his expletive-laced phone call and again after the Columbia game -- if he could name a single thing I wrote that was inaccurate or untrue.

He couldn't. He doesn't care about truth and accuracy.

He cares about who is toeing his party line on recruiting.

He muttered the name of a guard at Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey in reference to something I reported last year. The head coach at Seton Hall Prep said on the record that Gonzalez had never been to his gym during his tenure at Seton Hall.

Recruiting is all about people skills, and maybe that's as far as you have look to explain Seton Hall's situation.

Here are the facts, the ones Gonzo can't --and won't -- possibly dispute when he's cursing out journalists.

Gonzalez has landed several impact recruits in Jeremy Hazell, Eugene Harvey and Jordan Theodore. He has also brought in talented transfers Robert "Stix" Mitchell, Herb Pope and Keon Lawrence. Mitchell is playing this year after sitting out and Lawrence is hoping for an NCAA waiver that would allow him to play later this year. Pope has already been denied such a waiver by the NCAA -- twice.

Yet Seton Hall is the only team in the 16-team Big East without a single recruit signed for the fall.

Seton Hall has eight eligible players at this point pending the NCAA's decision on Melvyn Oliver.

One of his recruits, Michael Glover, recently withdrew from school after a failed lawsuit against the NCAA and the Big East failed to make him eligible.

Since Gonzalez has come to the school, three players have transferred in and three have transferred out. Several others never made it to campus.

"It's almost as if the Pirates ... should have a lawyer on the end of their bench instead of a priest," Roger Rubin of the Daily News wrote the other day.

Three key potential Seton Hall targets for 2009 -- Arsalan Kazemi (Rice), Karron Johnson (Oklahoma State) and Dominic Cheek (undecided) -- all opted to say thanks, but no thanks. Kazemi felt unduly pressured to commit during his visit to Seton Hall, and ultimately said no. A St. Anthony coach said Cheek wasn't comfortable with the "situation" at Seton Hall.

"I know that a lot of the attention we get right now isn't for the best reasons," Gonzalez told the Daily News. "I know that's going to change whenever all our players are able to play. I know we're knocking on the door of being a player in this conference."

When Gonzo isn't blaming the media, he's not above taking shots at referees, opposing coaches or even his own players.

Last year Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said he was "embarrassed" with Gonzalez's behavior in the season finale against Rutgers. Gonzalez openly criticized a referee, and will serve a one-game, school-imposed suspension on Dec. 30 against Syracuse.

He hasn't eased up this year, either. Here's Gonzo on the two other Big East coaches in the New York area.

"I could sit here and say there's a couple of guys in the metropolitan area who don't have winning records who got extensions -- I'm not knocking them. I'm just comparing," Gonzalez said at Seton Hall's media day. "I could say there are guys who haven't proved themselves by having no postseason wins."

And here's a comment about one of his own players, Brandon Walters.

"I think he's a borderline Big East player," Gonzalez told a room full of reporters at media day. "I don't have a ton of confidence in him right now, but he is a forward."

Just more examples of Gonzo being Gonzo.

With the way he treats people -- reporters, referees, coaches and players -- is it really any wonder that Seton Hall is still seeking its first commitment in this year's recruiting class?

Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.net.
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