Preface: if you aren't a football fan this post probably isn't for you...just wanted to be fair and give you a heads up.
The State of College Football (this post reflects my opinion only, if you disagree leave a comment and we can chat about it!)
So as some of you may know (I've written a post or two about it before) that I'm a coach's kid and have been for my entire life. I've gone through the ups and the downs and everything in between. It's definitely a roller coaster life but I've always believed in my dad and in the industry ever since I was old enough to realize what was going on.
I'm beginning to question everything now.
Up until now I've believed that football coaches are in the business for one of two reasons (and in many cases, both): 1. They love the game. 2. They love the opportunity to help young men develop their athletic talents, help them succeed academically and emotionally and to set them on the path for success in whatever they hope to do. Coaches are in the unique position where they have authority over their players but can also be a "father figure" in terms of providing support and advice.
I know that my dad takes his job as a father figure and mentor seriously. He just drove 12 hours each way to attend the funeral of a player's mother. He didn't have to, but he knew how much it would mean to the player so he went without a second thought. He still has mandatory study hall for freshman players and even goes to check in on them...he insists that all players sit in the front row of their classes to encourage success in the classroom (an added bonus is that professors realize that these guys are more than just football "meatheads"). For him it's about setting these guys up for success as well as working them hard on the field. He's no softie on the field or in the weight room, but he makes it know that he's doing it to make sure that they get the most out of everything. Nothing is half-assed.
Now there are definitely still coaches who still take their jobs as mentors and coaches seriously, but unfortunately there seem to be a lot of coaches (many of whom are at high profile universities) who are in it for two other reasons:
1. Competition (which I think of as a version of love of the game, but one that is harsher and more businesslike).
2. Fame and fortune.
Many coaches at the high profile universities are making at least seven figures per year. These salaries are given out more freely than before but do come at a price. Coaches are paid big bucks but are expected to win immediately. There is no leeway given to really dig in and build a program the right way. Results from this approach are slowly coming to light. More players are getting in trouble for arrests, academic issues and ineligibility. That can only mean that coaches are not taking the time to make sure their players are on the right path. Young men between the ages of 18-22 need someone to guide them and set a good example.
Two examples of coaches becoming too tied up in the fame and fortune are Bobby Petrino of the University of Arkansas, and Jim Tressel (former coach of Ohio State). Coach Petrino was recently involved in a motorcycle accident in which he broke several ribs and cracked a vertebrae in his neck. When asked by the police and the athletic director if anyone else was involved in the incident he said no without hesitation. Come to find out he had a 25 year old young woman (and new employee) on the back of his bike. He didn't tell his AD, his wife or any of his four children because he didn't want an "inappropriate relationship to become public". What a great example for his players right? He may be a great coach doing great things in the win/loss column but in the long run is that going to help your players turn into good people?
Coach Tressel, a well-respected former football coach at Ohio State was recently dismissed from the school because it was discovered that he was aware that players were violating NCAA rules but did nothing to stop it...another great example of someone in an influential position making multiple poor decisions in order to focus on the win/loss ratio.
Now don't get me wrong, I believe that wins and losses are important, very important. I just believe that there's a right and a wrong way to go about it. Why not use the attention that college football receives to set a good example for young men and boys.
This is just something that I've been thinking about for a while and wanted to get off of my chest. It makes me sad and disappointed because I've loved college football for so long and I'd hate to lose faith and respect for the game that means so much to me and my family.