Isiah Thomas Will Not Accept Tar Heels’ Tyranny

Believe it or not, basketball season’s coming soon. Just three months from now, we’ll be positively mired in the thick of the sports season, with weekends dominated by football and weekdays devoted to NCAA hoops and the NBA. It will be wonderful - especially if people stop screwing with Isiah Thomas.

Isiah Thomas
(He was so happy, you guys, and you’re just ruining it!)

The embattled Knicks head man-turned-FIU coach was set to begin his Golden Panther career against Ohio State, which makes sense; we’d long suspected that FIU was content to just be a pawn in Thomas’ reversion to his collegiate rivalries, after all. But UNC decided they’d rather have the date instead, and apparently that was enough for FIU to completely lose their s**t. Seriously.

First of all, the announcement from the MIAMI HERALD:

FIU’s first season under the Hall of Fame player will begin Nov. 9 at defending national champion North Carolina, part of a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. It’s also the opener for the Tar Heels, according to the schedule released Tuesday by the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Earlier drafts of FIU’s schedule indicated the Golden Panthers would open at Ohio State on that date, a trip that would have taken Thomas — the former Indiana star — back to his Big 10 playing roots.

But as we mentioned, FIU didn’t take too kindly to that, claiming a breach of contract. Sounds serious, right?

Florida International athletic director Pete Garcia, who hired the former NBA star as his new coach this past offseason, told FOXSports.com that he intends to honor the contract with the Gazelle Group in which FIU was slated to play against Ohio State in Columbus on Nov. 9 in the 2K Sports Classic.

Garcia said he found out through the release of North Carolina’s schedule by the ACC on Tuesday afternoon that FIU would open against defending national champion North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

“We’re not going to be bullied,” Garcia said on Tuesday afternoon. “We agreed to play Ohio State and now all of the sudden, they want to switch it to North Carolina.”

Teeny tiny little problem, and you can probably guess exactly where this is going - the contract didn’t specifically state FIU-OSU. Commence cringing:

Gazelle Group’s Rick Giles told FOXSports.com that he has a signed contract dated Nov. 18, 2008 in which FIU agreed to play either Ohio State or North Carolina.

“They agreed to play either one,” Giles said. “We talked to them two weeks ago and wanted them to play North Carolina. They said they’d prefer to play Ohio State and we understand that, but we want them to play North Carolina.”

Oh, Pete. One big thing to learn here: when it comes to scheduling decisions that involve UNC, Ohio State, and FIU, FIU is not the big dog in the room. It doesn’t matter if the head coach is Isiah Thomas or Bob Knight or a Phil Jackson mutant that has Red Auerbachs for fingers, FIU doesn’t call the shots.

It’s just mystifying that even the FIU brass are behind Thomas on this one. Why does it matter if he coaches against OSU? He’s not at Indiana anymore. He hasn’t been associated with them in any capacity since he graduated. It’s time for him to live in the now.