SHE SAID THEY SAID: Julie Cromer Peoples, the interim athletic director at UA, is rankling menfolk.

Well, the verdict is in. UA Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz has stepped in it by naming a woman as interim athletic director and allowing her to appear to take charge of the process of finding a replacement for Hog football coach Bret Bielema.

The Tweet above from a football website says it all, I think. “Clear leadership coaches believe in” is NOT  Interim AD Julie Cromer Peoples.

But there’s also Wally Hall’s dyspeptic column in the Democrat-Gazette this morning. Headline: “Steinmetz, Cromer Peoples causes for concern.”

Even Wally recognized how sexist his column would sound.

Advertisement

This column has nothing to do with gender, just what Cromer Peoples said.

When they say it isn’t about sex …..

And what did Cromer Peoples say? That she’d made the decision to fire Bielema in consultation with Steinmetz and that she’d decided to talk with him immediately after the Missouri loss so he could inform players. She also assertively said she’d lead the search and no formal search committee was necessary (though she won’t lack for input, from the UA Board of Trustees on down to every last fan with a Twitter account or a phone to dial a talk show.) How quickly we forget how messy a search committee for football coaches can be (Tuberville/Nutt anyone?). Wally and others were quick to rip Cromer Peoples for citing her participation in an Indiana football coach search that didn’t produce a winning coach. Yeah, well, Frank Broyles hired Jack Crowe and Jeff Long hired Bret Bielema, to name just a couple of examples of male fallibility.

In addition to the rampant sexism unleashed by allowing a woman to talk about football in Fayetteville, there’s also Arkanphobia. Sayeth Wally:

When it comes to athletics, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Chancellor Joe Steinmetz is arrogant, oblivioius or doesn’t realize he is not at Ohio State University anymore.

Coaches line up to work at Ohio State.

At Arkansas, coaches have to be recruited, properly vetted and passionate about all things Razorbacks. 

Of course the Arkansas way is the best way  If you can’t speak Arkinsaw, we don’t want you. How else did we get to be No. 1 in so many national rankings?

I have no problem with a woman in charge of athletics. It’s a business executive position. Women are capable, even if you wouldn’t think so by looking at the gender breakdown of corporate executives and corporate boards in Arkansas. Cromer Peoples made clear when she started that she recognized a chain of command that includes a chancellor, a UA System president and, as events in recent weeks proved conclusively, Board of Trustees. That group of 12 overseers includes exactly one black person and one female person. There’s Caucasian testosterone aplenty to ensure the job is done right should Miss Jules stray.

Cromer Peoples is suddenly a rhymes-with-witch because of the way she chose to terminate Bielema, pulling him into an office as he left the field to formally share the news that could not have been a surprise. I DON’T believe the reaction would have been the same had a man done it exactly the same way. I’m not sure what other way it could have been done, except perhaps to privately tell Bielema the obvious BEFORE the Missouri game was even played. 

Advertisement

How quickly we forget that the virtually unanimous opinion of every radio talk show and chat board in Arkansas was that Bielema HAD to be sacked. That he’s a nice guy who handled the news with customary grace can’t overcome an overall losing record and futility against SEC competition after five years on the job. He’ll be guaranteed something like $10 million or so over the next few years for his troubles. (And, truly, he does seem like a good guy.)

I think Wally Hall is hacked because he, and the state’s largest paper in general, have been on the outside as the athletic transition occurred. The day after the UA Board delivered its closed-door message to Steinmetz that Long had to go as a prelude to a football coaching change, the Democrat-Gazette account didn’t say what the meeting was about.  This is what I wrote Nov. 9 as the meeting broke up:

But sources have been telling the Arkansas Blog since Saturday that several members of the Board have been pressing for a change in athletic department leadership, in part, but not only, because of the poor record of Bielema’s football team.

I wrote the next day the athletic department leadership change would come at a time of Steinmetz’s choosing.

And here we — and Julie Cromer Peoples — are.