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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Don't sweat the money if you're fired from USF

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2014 at 07:23 AM

At first I felt kind of bad for now former University of South Florida basketball coach Stan Heath when he got canned last week. He seems like a good guy and a decent coach. I even discovered he knows something about chili at a contest where we were both judges on the campus.

But it is the nature of things in our world that if you are the coach and you don't produce enough wins now and then, you are gone.

Then I read USF beat writer Joey Johnson's story that said because Heath had four years remaining on his contract, USF will have to fork out $1.5 million. That seems like a pretty hefty chunk of money to not do something. Heaven knows, most of us would be more than willing to not do something for $1.5 million.

But this is USF, with a College of Business and I'm guessing dozens of smart money types who know how to make great business deals.

Farther down in the story, Johnson points out that USF is now paying three former coaches a total of $7 million to not coach their teams. Former football coach Jim Leavitt earned a $2.75 million settlement after contesting his firing. Former football coach Skip Holtz, after getting his contract extended, was then fired with another $2.5 million payout to go away.

Incidentally, the guy who extended his contract is now former athletic director Doug Woolard, who is no longer the AD but is remaining at USF and getting his base salary of $560,000 through next year. About all you can figure is that at least USF has figured out how to reduce the stress at the unemployment lines.

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Here are two more responses following up on last week's column about death camps and bigotry. They are both worth reading:

“I visited Dachau in 1959. I took my two grown sons back there in 2003.

“If a man goes there and does not feel a cold chill that goes to the bottom of his soul, then that person should be worried about their humanity. One photo will go to my grave with me, as fresh as the day I saw it.

“I am not Jewish, but I am part of humanity and I was ashamed!” — Bob Campbell

“In 1957 my husband was stationed near Stuttgart ... On numerous occasions he would chauffeur visiting dignitaries to Dachau and in doing so he became well-acquainted with the director of the camp. My husband felt it was important for me to visit it as well.

“After walking through the 'shower rooms' where the prisoners were gassed, seeing the horrible ovens where they were cremated and the 'blood ditch,' we went back to the main building to find the gentleman in charge. My husband asked him if he would kindly show me 'the little room.'

“When he was sure there were no other visitors close by, he unlocked the door to a room where there were stacks and stacks, row after row, of small black coffin-shaped boxes. He explained that these were the skeletal remains that the Germans had not had time to put in mass graves before the Americans took over the camp. The 'little room' was not open to the general public.

“Even now I feel that this was the most depressing day of my life. How can anyone say or believe that it never happened? I know it did. I was there.” — Jean B. Wray, Oldsmar

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Finally, the sound of fighter jets back and screaming across the sky beyond Ballast Point for this weekend's Airfest at MacDill is sweet music to someone who grew up on air bases and a reminder of the world we live in. I love it.

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