The latest ousted Villain made a lot of odd choices — both fashion and strategy related — in Survivor: Heroes vs Villains. But perhaps none more detrimental than the decision to go all out in the reward challenge and thereby expose the tribe’s weakest players in the all-important immunity competition. But that certainly wasn’t the only miscue Benjamin “Coach” Wade made this season. He also put himself in jeopardy by leaving Boston Rob’s alliance, thereby tearing the tribe apart and leading to his own exit. In fact, we could go on all day with the things Coach did wrong, but we got him on the phone instead to talk about his all-too-short tenure on season 20.
Let me start by asking, are you rocking a feather in your hair right now?
I’m not, man. I’m very conservative looking right now. I’m not rocking the feather right now. Maybe I should have, ’cause it would have given me power for this interview.
Coach, I have to say I was very disappointed in you this season. And I’m not talking about what happened with Russell and Rob and all that stuff. I’m talking about the lack of insane survival stories that you shared this time around. Hit me with one right now.
I told one every single night, man, and they just didn’t show it! I didn’t make it far enough into the game for that kind of stuff to come out. Alright, I’ll share a survival story with you. You ready?
I was born ready.
I was down in Mexico and I was kayaking, and this guy gave me this ice that was actually turned into maybe some type of poison or something, maybe that had been sitting in diesel fuel. And I sat there and the ice melted in my cooler. I was about three days south of the nearest land, it was 95 degrees and I couldn’t drink the water. So I dumped all the water out, I’m sitting there in my kayak, probably four days from the next city and three days from the city before me, and there’s literally nothing out there. This was northern Mexico, from Bahia Kino to San Carlos. No water. Went three days, 95 degree heat, no water, and passed out. Then Bill Ronstadt, of the famous Linda Ronstadt family, came up in a sailboat and fished me out of the water as I was passed out, dehydrated, and almost dead.
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! So, Coach, was the reward feast really that important that you had to sit Courtney and Sandra in that one?
You know, man, I look back on that, watching the episode, and that morning Jerri sat there and said, very dramatically, “we’re gonna die.” Nobody was eating. The coconuts that were on the ground were almost all used up, we were having just a very little bit, and she was hurting. Everybody was hurting. And my thought was, with the loss of Tyson and Boston Rob, we needed to have food to go into the next challenge. And plus, it was pretty tough mentally for us to go in there expecting a merge and a feast, and then having nothing. I said this before, I could go without eating. It wasn’t that big a deal for me. I was trying to make the tribe strong by getting them something to eat because people were pretty much not only in a downward spiral mentally but I think physically as well. It was pretty tough on them.
It seemed like such a boneheaded move, but it actually also happened with Boston Rob in the previous episode as well where you guys had Courtney sit out the reward and compete in the immunity. What’s going on the decision making over there?
You’re too smart for me, because obviously I didn’t even think about the week before, that happening. You’re too smart. It was just like, we started making these bonehead decisions. It was almost as if Tyson leaving, as I said in Tribal, he was a glue to hold us together and all of a sudden we just started making these stupid decisions — who sat, who played. It was crazy. And you know, Boston Rob actually laid in the shelter for a whole day after Tyson left, not getting up, just like the wind had been taken out of his sails. So it was tough on all of us, and I don’t know why we made those decisions, but I think the only thing I can say is, it started with Tyson’s exit. It shouldn’t have happened. We shouldn’t have gone to Tribal. We won that challenge, so it was a double elimination. It happened on that day. It was a fluke Tyson didn’t stick with the plan, and literally voted himself out, and that was the beginning of the end.
What was up with your man crush on Boston Rob? And how did that man crush measure up when compared to your one on J.T. in Tocantins?
Boston Rob is a legend. JT, before the season, was a nobody, so I liked JT and I thought he was great at surviving and I loved playing the game with him. I thought he was that good ol’ country boy, but he was not a legend. He can become a legend, but Boston Rob was already a legend. And so bromancing on Boston Rob in the beginning, I was literally speechless. How many times do you see that? It doesn’t happen. But this guy is a legend of the sport and to be there next to him, it’s just surreal. I’d have to say Boston Rob, hands down.
What’s the status of the bromance now? Has he forgiven you?
Yeah, it’s cool. I’ve actually got a trip planned to go and see him in a couple of weeks. He’s been after me to come and hang out. I think in the beginning he felt very betrayed and in my mind, I thought it was unjustified, because I really just wanted to keep the team strong. But I can understand his point of view. He was a little cool at the 10-year anniversary party, but we patched it up and I told him that I respect him and I love him and what happened in the game is what happened in the game. Don’t hold grudges. I don’t hold a grudge — he called me a little man and I could be sitting here slamming him and saying he did it to himself and I could be saying all kinds of stuff, but that’s not really who I am.
You say you wanted to keep the tribe strong and that’s why you voted for Courtney. But you pretty much knew that vote was gonna send Rob home, right?
No, not really, because if so many people have gone into Tribal expecting to vote one way, why even have Tribal? Why does Jeff even sit there and ask questions to maybe sway people or uncover some people or try to pit people against each other? Isn’t that what Tribal Council is all about, getting the truth and hoping the tribe cannibalizes on itself or that something blindsidey happens?. So, if nobody had ever changed their vote in Tribal, I guess you could say I was throwing my vote away. But hope springs eternal in the mind of a fool, and I guess I’m a fool because I sat there in Tribal and literally begged everybody. In fact, Jeff was like, “Well, I think we’re gonna break it down for the vote.” He was about ready to say that or he had said it and I just said, “Wait, I have one other thing to say. I’m begging you guys to meet in the middle, to keep our tribe strong, and to vote out the weakest player.” And I told them all day, on both sides, countless times, “Courtney’s the weakest player. We have to get rid of her. Meet in the middle.” I tried to mediate a meeting between Boston Rob and Russell for three days, saying to Boston Rob, “meet with Russell,” and he wouldn’t. Russell was savvy enough, saying, “I’ll meet with Boston Rob,” because of course he was just going to use it to his advantage, but Boston Rob just would not meet with Russell and I thought one last-ditch effort. We can still change our votes. Let’s make this tribe strong. We’re on a bad track, and we’re gonna continue to go downhill so, let’s right the ship.
You’re saying you ended up in the middle, but still had harsh feelings toward Russell. What was it about Russell that rubbed you the wrong way with his playing?
Obviously, my way of playing is to go out there and take the strongest to the end, and to try to lead, and to try to bond with loyalty, and not with fear and lies and loathing. I feel like that’s how Russell played the game. So at the time, I was very upset with him because that is what he relied on. I mean, if you’re gonna fight man-to-man, take off the fricking gloves and let’s beat the crap of out each other and then shake hands and hug and move on. Let’s not hide the machete, and burn the socks, and dump out the water, and sneak around. To me, that was completely opposite of how I wanted to play the game — with honor and loyalty and dignity. But you know, looking back on it, I have to say that I don’t have any hard feelings for Russell. I think that he is a very good player. He is a ferocious player and we haven’t seen anyone like him, just like we really hadn’t seen anyone like me before. When I came, Russell has since overshadowed that because he is such a strong player. For him to sway votes again and again, and to get his way, is something that’s very impressive. And he uses the tools that are given to him. He was given a short stature, he was given a very aggressive personality, a restless spirit, and that’s what he does. He uses it to his advantage. I can’t really fault him for that even though it’s different than me, and it’s different how I play the game, I can’t really fault him for that.
Your closest ally in the game was Jerri. Anything we should know about you two these days?
Jerri is an awesome girl. I can’t wait to see her at the finale.
Nice cop out answer. Finally, this is a tough one. You can pick only one person to quote for the rest of your life. Who’s it going to be: Confucius, Nietzsche or Sun Tzu?
Nietzsche. Because Nietzsche was a great oxymoron. He was a monster because he studied them. “One of my problems studying monsters,” Nietzsche said, “is that in looking into them, you become one.” Same way as looking into the abyss. He was a man who started out with great intentions and actually became the animal that he was trying to fight. Almost like a Greek tragedy.
To see an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode (find out why Danielle may want to bring Jerri to the finals), as well as a special pep talk that Coach recorded for himself before the game began in case he got voted out, check out the video player below. And for all the Survivor scoop sent right to you, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.
Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS