Survivor: 'Coach' Wade Now Thinks He Was Shown In The Wrong Light
Biggest character of last season's Survivor: Tocantins?  Benjamin Wade, no doubt.  Never mind that J.T. won, in a finish that threw his close friendship with runner-up Stephen on the flames, and then some.  Never mind that Sierra almost made a fool of herself, and somehow unwittingly catapulted Erinn to the final four.  Never mind everything else.  It was Coach who defined the season, with all the things he's said, and apparently done, and the way he seemed convinced that he's this and that.  It's hard summarizing everything that he is in one introductory paragraph--or maybe it's me who wants to cram in every supposedly important detail.

But a lot more happened after that, and now that Coach's no longer bound against CBS' provisions against interviews, well, he's been set loose.  And man, I'm reading through the interview he did with local newspaper The News-Leader, and it's seriously, seriously long.  Just what you'd expect.

A lot did happen to Coach after his stint on Survivor.  For one, he got fired from his slot as the coach of the women's soccer team at the Southern Baptist University.  There was, apparently, a semblance of controversy surrounding that, with Coach allegedly telling his team that he's seeking cancer treatment.

"I did not tell the kids that I had cancer, but I wish I would've done it differently," he said.  "I told them specificially: 'I'm going for testing.  I'm going to be tested more than I've ever been tested in my life.  I have to go.  And pray that God shines through me while I'm gone.' ... I didn't realize that they were going to put two and two together.  Right before I left [for Survivor], I called ... and he was like, everybody here thinks you have cancer."

He says that he did get permission from his higher-ups at SBU before leaving, after hesitating with the prospect of leaving his team midseason.  He was also bound by the confidentiality clause that Survivor entails.  But a miscommunication meant he inadvertently told the school's athletic director that he'll be out for a week--he did say he'll be out for more than a week, he claimed--but when he returned after two months, he ultimately was shown the door.  "I was feeling major guilt at leaving my team, anyway," he said.  "When I came back, it was a total you-know-what storm.  And they needed to have somebody that was a scapegoat ... They actually did not fire me.  They told me, 'we're not going to renew your contract.'"

"I could've handled things better with my team," he added.  "It was one of those areas where I thought I did the right thing, but it comes back when it's all said and done and you wish you would have done it differently ... When I came back, [my team] felt like I was dishonest, which I was ... I think I could've handled that better.  I shouldn't have used the word being 'tested'.  I was telling myself I was going to be tested beyond belief on Survivor.  But it was the wrong choice of words ... I thought they were very gracious."  SBU refused to comment on the statements made.

Coach also had some gripes with the way he was portrayed on the show.  "I got the worst edit possible," he said.  "I had everybody from the cast calling me during the season ... They knew it was tough on me because they were, like, 'That's not you at all.  You encouraged us every day.  You helped us.  You gave away your food.'  That's why I lost so much weight out there, because I gave away all my food ... I thought they were going to show that part."

In particular, he said many of the things he said were taken out of context during editing.  "Brendan and I don't get along," he cited.  "But the one tribal [council] where I talked to him about the leadership, and he was laughing, and they showed him laughing, he called me and was, like, 'Hey, just so you know, Dragon Slayer, just so you know, I actually wasn't laughing.'"

"They would take instances ... when I would say to the group, 'Hey, you know what, Candace, you did a good job,'" he added.  "Then, I was, like, 'Listen, man, we sucked ass today.  The bottom line is, we lost.  We've got to stop losing.'  Instead of taking the encouragement, they would take that last thing out of context.  If I were really that abrasive out there, then people would've talked about getting rid of me long before they did ... You didn't see all the positive things.  You didn't see the noble things.  It was very frustrating for me to sit there."

"I will say that when I saw the final episode of myself on exile and kind of saw that they have taken a character from here, brought him way down here, then kind of put him out with a semi-heroic exit, it kind of made sense," he finally said.  "Two weeks before that, I was talking to someone at CBS, [and] I said, 'I really wish they had portrayed me in a different way.'"

He also cited an instance when he felt everyone wanted to see him stumble.  "When Debbie went home, [Jeff Probst] was asking a lot of questions," he said.  "He said, 'You're going to get the short end of the stick ... Everybody can see right through you.  You're transparent.  You're not lying to people.  You're not playing the game.  You're not strategizing.  You're not scrambling.  You're going to leave with the short end of the stick.'  He was saying that to bait me.  I thought about it, and I said, 'You know what, Jeff?  You're all waiting for that moment when I slip so that you can point your finger at me and say, 'You're just like everyone else.  You compromised yourself to win this game.'  And I said, you know what?  I'll never compromise.  So if I don't compromise and I leave on my own terms, I get the big end of the stick."

So what's next for Coach?  He's since moved to Los Angeles, focusing on the symphony orchestra he's been working with.  He also says he's gotten offers to coach for two community colleges in the area, but he's also considering taking up public speaking.  Looking back, though, he wishes he could've done things differently with the way he acted.

"But as far as keeping my word and being loyal and trying to take the stronger players to the game, I think I set out what I accomplished," he said.  "If you look at the beginning when I turned down Survivor, I was trying to be honorable.  You look at me being persecuted by everybody out there because I'm a liar and that's why I got fired ... and if you look at the game when I gave away my food, and I went one-on-one with everybody.  When you look at all these things that I've done, I've tried to do the right thing.  I'm not perfect, but I've tried to do the right thing ...  I've been made to look in the worst light.  I've been made to be a fool, and I was only trying to do things different."

-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: The News-Leader
(Image courtesy of CBS)