Once one shoe drops, another is soon to follow.

One day after former Rutgers cornerback Jevon Tyree accused then defensive coordinator Dave Cohen of bullying him; another player admits to having received the same treatment at another school where Cohen coached.

It leads me to wonder if bullying coaches is an all pervasive problem at Rutgers in particular, in sports in general; or if players are mistaking aggressive, “motivational” tactics for bullying – and are just not cut out to play ball?

I get the feeling it’s more the latter than the former.

A day after former Rutgers football player Jevon Tyree came forward to the media with allegations that he was bullied by then Scarlet Knights defensive coordinator Dave Cohen, the university’s athletics director, Julie Hermann, received an email from someone who claimed to have been the “target” of Cohen’s wrath at a previous coaching stop.

On Nov. 16, a former Western Michigan player wrote to Hermann at her university’s email account: “I pray for the young man that DC Dave Cohen is now picking on. I was once the target of Cohen at the University of Western Michigan where he was my dc before I too left the team due to the bullying I recieved (sic) from Cohen. Cohen made my time at Western Michigan the worst experience of my life. I could not believe a man like Cohen was in a position of power because he completly (sic) abuses his authority. I hope this matter is handled promptly because I would never want another young man to experience the torment I had to endure under Dave Cohen.’’

Jason Baum, senior associate AD for athletic communications, said Cohen was questioned by Rutgers athletics about the email and Cohen “vehemently denied” the bullying allegation.
Cohen was fired on Dec. 8 by Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood, who said the Tyree allegations did not play a role in the dismissal. Despite overseeing a unit that allowed the third-most total yards in school history, Cohen was hired Jan. 2 by Wake Forest to serve as the team’s defensive line coach.

New Jersey Press Media spoke with the former Western Michigan player, who confirmed he sent the letter.

“That was the toughest time in my life,” he said. “When I read the thing I was like ‘wow, I guess I wasn't the only one.’ ”

Asked about the specific bullying allegations, he said: “(Cohen) just would call me out in front of everybody. He tried to embarrass me in any way, shape and form. He tried to exclude me, all my reps were cut. I wasn’t able to compete for positions. He was like, ‘No, you wait here while everybody else goes and shows what they can do.’ ”

On Nov. 15, Tyree alleged that he was bullied last spring by Cohen in the form of inappropriate language and the threat of a head-butt during a study hall incident and subsequently made to feel “invisible.”

In its initial statement on the matter, Rutgers acknowledged the inappropriate language by Cohen but denied the threat of physical violence against Tyree and said the latter was verified by an academic counselor in the room. School officials said Cohen “apologized the next day for his participation in the escalation of banter” and Flood said he verbally reprimanded Cohen for the incident.

The Western Michigan player said he was never threatened physically but recalled feeling “singled out” by Cohen, who had spent two seasons as defensive coordinator at Western Michigan prior to arriving at Rutgers in January 2012.

Presently there’s an investigation going on as to whether or not Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann handled the Tyree situation appropriately.

But anytime one hears of a coach’s tactics that appear to go “over the line”, I wonder if either there really is a culture of bullying in athletics; or are today’s athletes so sensitive that a coach looking to motivate a player the best way he (or she) knows how is deemed a bully.