- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

Dave Bliss has crawled out from under his rock to pursue the coaching position with the Dakota Wizards of the Continental Basketball Association.

Bliss apparently assumes that two years of penance is sufficient and that Bismarck, N.D., is far enough removed from the intrusive eye of the media in the urban centers.

Icky news, however, travels fast, and news of Bliss being one of five candidates should have carried a warning: This story contains offensive language and a strong odor, and readers are advised to hold their noses with a clothes pin.

Steve McCormick, the owner of the Wizards, said, “We’re checking his references and checking this out.”

McCormick will not be able to check the competence of Bliss with Patrick Dennehy, the Baylor player who was murdered by ex-teammate Carlton Dotson two summers ago.

Bliss, who was running a corrupt program, figured a dead body would expose the dirt.

So he went into cover-up mode.

It was his idea, secretly recorded by an assistant, to portray Dennehy as a drug dealer who, of course, came to a premature demise because of a deal gone bad and not because Bliss was buying players of unsavory character.

By now, you figured Bliss either would be on a used-car lot or working at a newspaper, both industries held in the same low regard by the public.

Instead, he is trying to return to the basketball coaching business, although in a distant market and in a league that carries no panache.

Yet he remains a pariah, and there should be no place for him in the game.

How he sleeps at night is anyone’s guess.

To save his hide, Bliss attempted to orchestrate a smear campaign against a dead collegian who, at the very least, deserved the full cooperation of the coach during the police investigation. Dennehy’s grieving family deserved so much better, too.

You send your child to a coach of a well-respected university, and what you get in return is one of the most sordid scandals ever in the NCAA. You get a coach whose callousness is equal to a desire to cover his sorry backside.

A young man is in a casket, another young man is not of sound mind, and the snake of a coach thinks it would be prudent to paint the dead as a drug dealer.

So when the owner of the Wizards says he is sifting through the background information of Bliss, you wonder whether he just has dropped into Bismarck after an extended stay on Mars.

You also wonder whether he would be checking the references of O.J. Simpson if the latter were availing himself to the Wizards.

Wizards general manager Jane Link says: “[Bliss] is a candidate, and we are looking at the candidates from all angles.”

There is only one angle with Bliss.

He left Waco, Texas, in disgrace, with filth and blood all about him.

This is the person you want to entrust with your investment and livelihood?

This is your person to rally the troops?

His pep talks just might not be well received by athletes whose principal goal is to be rescued from the CBA by the NBA.

Yes, we are the land of second chances that believes in the power of rehabilitation.

But there is something unseemly about a person trying to return to a game merely two years after he came to embody so much of what is wrong with the NCAA.

The owner and general manager of Bismarck’s CBA team are no doubt monitoring how the candidacy of Bliss is playing in the community and beyond.

It is just a guess, but infamy is probably not the way to add relevance to an operation.

Bliss is lugging around so much baggage that he probably would have trouble leading players out of a burning house.

And the ability to lead is so much what being a coach is all about.

Bliss squandered the ability to lead the moment he sought to impugn the reputation of the dead.

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