COLLEGE HEAD FOOTBALL COACHES MUST BE CLAIRVOYANT
The life of a head football coach at a Division I college or university begins with a man walking around campus with a big target on his back.
The reason for this must be because so many folks have too much time on their hands and practice their genealogy by digging into the private lives of these football coach.
The poor coach who stole the fat kid’s lunch in the seventh grade could be charged with grand larceny 30 years later.
In a more serious vein, just in the last few days two major college head football coaches have been placed on administrative leave by their respective schools for not having eyes in the back of their head.
DJ Durkin at Maryland and Urban Meyer at Ohio State are two head coaches that currently cannot oversee the new formations and defenses that were practiced during their spring football sessions that are sanctioned by the NCAA.
During the spring drills at Maryland, Durkin’s staff was working the team out briskly in the hot sun when one of the players fell out with heat exhaustion. Less than two weeks later the 19-year-old died from the heatstroke.
Last weekend the family’s lawyer urged the University of Maryland to fire Durkin in the wake that he and his staff abused and humiliated players during Durkin’s two-year stint. He also pointed out that his staff was not prepared to deal with a heatstroke incident, according to the Associated Press.
Maryland also put two high-ranking members of the athletic training staff on administrative leave and hired Dr. Red Walters, a former college athletic trainer to head an independent investigation which should be available Sept. 15.
But most of the Maryland football players and some of the parents were in full support of Durkin and had no issues with him. They also believed the school did the right thing by putting the athletic trainers responsible for the death on administrative leave.
Ohio state had a different reason to put Meyer on administrative leave. He allegedly was aware that assistant coach Zach Smith committed domestic abuse on his wife in 2009 when they both were at the University of Florida.
When Meyer left the Gators and took the Ohio State job, Smith came with him. In 2015 Meyer said he was unaware of a domestic abuse allegation Smith’s ex-wife levied against him.
However, late last month, an Ohio judge granted a protective order on behalf of Courtney Smith which placed the story directly into the spotlight. Meyer then fired Zach Smith.
Zach Smith has denied abusing his ex-wife but has acknowledged their relationship as “volatile” and “toxic.”
But the problem in this scenario is that Meyer pleaded ignorance three years after the Smith 2015 incident.
The LA Times compared Meyer’s denial to the Penn State incident where administrators and fellow coaches insisted they never knew about defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing young boys—sometimes on school property—for more than a decade.
When a cover-up was acknowledged, the late Joe Paterno was fired as coach and his legacy tarnished badly. The school received a $60-million fine scholarship reduction and a postseason ban.
Ohio State has a reputation of getting rid of winning coaches who may have done something contrary to the school’s policy after an investigation is completed.
Ohio State’s job now, as it investigates what Meyer knew and when, is to determine if that allegation is bad enough to result in Meyer’s dismissal should it be proven true.
Meyer has led the Buckeyes’ storied football program to a national title and suffered only eight losses since his first season in 2012. This may make the decision to can him much more difficult.
Jim Tressel led the Buckeyes football program to a national title in 2002–only his second year in Columbus–and followed it with seven more Top 10 finishes twice ending the season as national runner-up.
But he was forced out in 2011 when it was revealed that Tressel failed to notify the NCAA and school officials about his players’ longtime involvement with the owner of a local tattoo parlor who gave the players cash and discounted tattoos in exchange for team-signed memorabilia and championship rings, a violation of NCAA rules.
Meyer has been accused of something else entirely—knowing about an assistant coach’s violent tendencies and doing absolutely nothing about it.
One thing that may hurt Meyer is his contract, which was amended earlier this year with clauses that outline the ways the school can fire him with cause—without paying a $38.1 million buyout, according to USA Today.
Meyer’s contract states that he can be fired for cause for failing to report incidents of abuse to the school, including “violations during employment of Coach at Ohio State or any other institution of higher learning.”
Ohio State has not hesitated to fire big-name coaches in the past for much less serious allegations and it appears to have the authority to do so now without incurring a huge financial hit.
And it appears to me that the allegations against Urban Meyer can easily be proven true.
KWICKIES…The Houston Astros’ starting pitchers are finding it very difficult to give up only a couple of runs in a game and still not get credited with a win due to the lack of a major league offense. As names on the disabled list grows, so do the losses. Last weekend was a perfect example as the Astros dropped a four-game series at home to the mediocre Seattle Mariners. This is a bad time of the season to try to win fielding a team with mostly minor leaguers in the lineup.
It seems like the NFL players who are refusing to stand for the National Anthem should move their protest from the stadiums to where it could do some good—like in Washington, D.C. The players are off on Tuesdays and could very well organize a political march where it may do some good. Protesting in front of the fans who are paying most of their salaries is ludicrous and won’t make many of them role models.
And speaking of the NFL, although these exhibition games aren’t popular with the players or coaches, it’s the poor fans who have to shell out their hard-earned money to watch a bunch of players who won’t be around for opening day.
JUST BETWEEN US…Brooks Koepka never dreamed he’d be fighting to hold off Tiger Woods in a major golf tournament, yet it happened last weekend in the PGA Championship in St. Louis. He is only the fifth player on golf history to win the U.S Open and PGA Championship in the same year. The 26-year-old Koepka had to birdie two of the final four holes to secure a two-shot victory over the hard-charging Tiger. There should be a lot of crow eaten this week by those sports scribes who vowed Tiger would never be a factor in any tournament, let alone a major. His performance in the PGA should assure him a berth on this year’s Ryder Cup team.