Win some, lose some, then pay some off

Former College of Charleston head basketball coach Doug Wojcik.

The "over-under" for last season's Clemson-South Carolina football game was 58½.

The final score was Gamecocks 31, Tigers 17.

For you non-math majors, that's a total of 48 points.

That means if you bet the "under," you won.

So what's the over-under on how much the College of Charleston will have to ante up to Doug Wojcik after firing him as its men's basketball coach Tuesday?

Following extensive consultation with experts, this longtime sports fan sets that over-under line at $800,000 - and makes an out-of-court settlement a 10-to-1 favorite.

But regardless of how much the C of C ultimately pays to make Wojcik go away, lots of non-sports fans must be wondering why he - like most college coaches - had a long-term contract in the first place.

And he had only three years left on his five-year deal at $400,000 a year, meaning a full payout would garner him $1.2 million (see editorial, Page A8). Many coaches, including those at South Carolina and Clemson, have many more years than that.

The standard long-term justification is that coaches must be able to tell recruits that they are at their schools for the long haul.

But when coaches win enough, they routinely bolt for better jobs, even when it costs them and/or their new employers hefty buyouts.

And when coaches lose too much, schools routinely cut their losses by canning them and paying them off.

So now the College is cutting its losses. It dumped Wojcik not for losing games, though he suffered 18 defeats while winning only 14 last season, but for so often losing his cool.

The school calls that "just cause."

Just don't count on that being the final score.

Unfortunately, Wojcik's not the only coach - or person - who has stooped to mean-mouthing brow-beating in this traumatizing era of rampant verbal bullying.

So the College of Charleston and other schools at all levels should offer classes teaching proven methods of self-esteem defense. Among the time-tested comebacks to tormentors who aim hurtful words your way:

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me."

"I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks on you."

"I know you are, but what am I?"

And my old-school favorite:

"So's your old man."

Sure, those retorts sound juvenile.

Yet so do plenty of the cruel comments persuasively attributed to Wojcik in a 50-page independent report that makes a powerful case against him.

Meanwhile, the annual farce of finally learning in August which recruits will and won't academically "qualify" for admission for the start of preseason football practice at USC, Clemson and other big-time football schools makes a strong case against the term "student-athlete."

Yes, student-athletes generally graduate at a higher rate than regular students.

Then again, schools generally have much more at stake in the academic standings of student-athletes than in those of regular students - especially since the NCAA started docking scholarships from teams if their grad rates fall too low.

And the College of Charleston isn't the only local non-big-time sports school making athletic calls with serious bottom-line implications.

The Citadel, as of Wednesday, has a new athletic director in Jim Senter. One of his assignments will be booking "money" dates against major football powers.

Indeed, the Bulldogs' second game of the upcoming season under new coach Mike Houston will be a particularly glaring mismatch of that kind on Sept. 6 at defending national champion Florida State.

Senter was on the other end of that financial formula last season as senior associate AD at the University of Colorado, which paid Charleston Southern $400,000 to take a 43-10 drubbing way out in Boulder.

Back to The Citadel:

The Military College of South Carolina announced Tuesday that on Nov. 14 it will induct Pat Conroy and Joe Riley as honorary members of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Some of us who grew up as Bulldog fans first noticed Conroy (Class of 1967) when he was a pretty good guard on pretty lousy Citadel basketball teams.

However, Conroy is going into that Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame because of his renown as an author.

Among his books - "The Lords of Discipline," a gripping novel about a military school where abuse of cadets goes far beyond the verbal, and "My Losing Season," an aptly titled memoir about the 8-17 Bulldog squad of his senior year.

And though Riley (Class of 1964) was - and still is - too short to be much of a threat on the basketball court, he is a major baseball fan. He even has a ballpark named for him.

But now that Riley's in his 10th and final term as Charleston's mayor, he no longer has a long-term contract.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is