Radio personality apologizes for saying God caused Mark Dantonio's heart attack
By SHAWN WINDSOR
Posted: 11:57 a.m. Sept. 21, 2010 | Updated: 1:09 p.m. Sept. 21, 2010
Matt Patrick told his WTRC FM-95.3 listeners in South Bend, Ind., this morning that you don’t cheat in football when playing Notre Dame, or “God is going to get you.”
The morning talk-show host quickly discovered that you don’t mess around with Michigan State, either. After suggesting on the air that God gave Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio a heart attack as punishment for the Spartans beating Notre Dame on Saturday, Patrick found his inbox full of death threats and worse.
The 30-year radio veteran began his self-described “feeble attempt” at humor by recounting the closing seconds of the game, in which MSU beat Notre Dame on a trick play as the play clock ticked to zero. Then he said: “The moral of the story is you mess around with the Fighting Irish, you cheat on the last play of the game, overtime, and beat the Irish, God is going to get you.”
Almost immediately, irate fans began flooding the station’s phone lines, firing off angry emails and apparently signing him up for porn sites.
“I could do without that,” Patrick joked.
The station quickly posted a video on its website in which Patrick apologized to Dantonio.
So why did he make the suggestion in the first place?
“I was trying to be funny,” he told the Free Press in a phone interview. “Maybe I could’ve chosen my words a little bit differently. I don’t believe God did anything (to Dantonio). And I don’t believe Coach deserved it (the heart attack). I’m not out to shock anybody. This situation, to me, is one where I can step back and say, ‘I should have said it a little bit differently.’ I can take my lumps.”
Patrick said he understands why his attempt at humor fell flat and that it came across as insensitive. He said he used a mutual friend to express that sentiment to Dantonio.
“Coach and I have spoken before,” Patrick said. “I consider him a great guy and a great coach. I’m hoping maybe he will give me 30 seconds at the end of the week.”
Though Patrick said he loves Notre Dame football, he grew up in Ohio and didn’t move to South Bend until recently. Today’s show was only his seventh at WTRC.
“I’m making a tremendous impression,” he said.
Patrick’s program is built around news and conservative political opinion. So is he used to heated rhetoric. Still, the reaction of the football fans surprised him.
“You know what’s great?” Patrick said. “I personally love the fact that Michigan state fans are as rabid as they are.”
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