bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Why aren’t college coaches held to the same standard as the players?

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Much is made of a college athlete’s commitment to his or her school. Millions of people follow recruiting, particularly when it comes to college football, and in the era of Twitter, every little comment is analyzed under a pretty powerful microscope. The fans of a school have all kinds of expectations about which players should commit to their school, when they should do it, and what kind of players they will be once they enroll. When a player transfers, you would think that he had betrayed his school and all of its fans. Little is said, though, when a coach leaves to go elsewhere. This week, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville left a restaurant during a recruiting dinner, never returned, and was announced as the new head coach of the University of Cincinnati football team the next morning.

Tuberville had always been an odd fit at Texas Tech. He had coached in the SEC for years, first at Ole Miss and then at Auburn, until the Tigers fired him in 2008. Tech had been coached by the outspoken and sometimes outrageous Mike Leach, who had been fired in late 2009 after a controversy involving possible abuse of a player. I don’t think many people would have thought of Tuberville for the job, but he certainly thought of it himself, openly campaigning for the position when Leach was let go. The fanbase there never really embraced him, as I think they thought of him as being so different from Leach, who was hugely popular. The Red Raiders won a bowl game in Tuberville’s first year, but were less successful in his next two seasons. Still, I don’t think anyone saw the Cincinnati thing coming. Perhaps the oddest thing about it is that few people would look at the Cincinnati job as being a step up, or even a step straight sideways, from the Texas Tech job. Tech plays in the Big Twelve while Cincinnati plays in the Big East, which appears to be on the verge of complete collapse at the moment.

As I mentioned, Tuberville was at dinner with a few recruits and several other Tech coaches last weekend. At some point, he left the table, with the high school kids thinking he had gone to the bathroom. He never came back. Excuses were made, but the announcement about Cincinnati was made the next morning, while the recruits were still on campus. What kind of message does something like this send to these kids? They are being asked to commit the next 4-5 years of their lives to a school and a football program. Apparently, some coaches feel no such commitment. What should happen to the other players at Texas Tech? If they want to transfer to another FBS school, they’d have to sit out a year. Will Tuberville have to wait a year before he can roam the sidelines in Ohio? Not a chance. You can be sure he made all kinds of promises to the players he recruited, and was likely in the midst of making more promises to those kids with whom he was having dinner. If an 18-year-old kid is held to such a standard, it seems to me that the adults who should have a much better sense of themselves and their lives should be held to an equal or an even higher standard.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Brandon Jacobs, a running back for the San Francisco 49ers, was suspended for the rest of the season after complaining about his lack of playing time on Twitter. In a similar story, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall was suspended for Sunday’s game after he failed to show up at the previous game after being told he would be inactive for the week.

3) On Monday, Amir Johnson, a forward for the Toronto Raptors, was ejected after a bit of a tug of war over the ball between him and an official. After the ejection, he threw his mouthpiece at the official and had to be held back by his teammates.

4) Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who had been assigned to handle the appeals of the players who had been suspended due to the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, overturned the suspensions this week. This is good for those players, but bad for current commissioner Roger Goodell and his reputation around the league, as he had been the one to hand out those suspensions.

5) It was a rough week for skiers. Lindsay Vonn lost her shot at scoring five straight victories in speed events when she crashed during her World Cup downhill event in France on Friday. Meanwhile, Bode Miller was golfing with his wife on Wednesday when he nailed her in the face with a errant tee shot. She needed fifty stitches to close the resulting laceration.

6) Three members of the University of Michigan football team were suspended on Sunday for breaking team rules and will miss the upcoming Outback Bowl. J.T. Floyd, Will Hagerup, and Brandin Hawthorne are the players.

7) The girls’ basketball game between Bloomington South High School and Arlington High became an embarrassment for both sides on Tuesday. Bloomington won the game, 107-2. You read that correctly.

8) Rob Parker, a commentator for ESPN who appears on the network’s morning screamfest “First Take,” made major waves this week when he decided to question the “blackness” of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. That seems like a pretty bad idea to me. Parker has since been suspended.

Good sports:

1) Before the NFL season started, Adrian Peterson was a bit of an afterthought, particular in fantasy football drafts. He was still recovering from a major injury, and was expected to miss a decent chunk of the season. Instead, he not only started the season on time, but with two games remaining in the regular season, he is less than 300 yards away from the NFL’s all-time single-season rushing record of 2105 yards (Eric Dickerson, 1984). Amazing.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday


Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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2 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: Why aren’t college coaches held to the same standard as the players?”

  1. Amen on college coaches: how bizarre is it that you have these men receiving millions of dollars (more often than not from public institutions) while their players make nothing–and yes, I know, a free education, but that’s chickenfeed compared to what the coaches/programs earn and in many cases the “education” itself is at best a symbolic gesture–only for their coaches to show zero loyalty to their own athletes with they sniff the next payday? I realize I watch less and less college sports each year, and I think this is a big reason why.

  2. Alan, good post, as always.

    Wanted to share the view move from my own hometown, just a couple hours’ drive south of Lubbock, on Tuberville. TTU fans will agree with you on all-or-most of your points regarding Tuberville’s image. He had a hard act to follow in the person of Mike Leach … and a MUCH harder act to follow in the person of Spike Dykes. He did have his moments, though.

    As for the move to Cincinnati … definitely seen as a move DOWN around here.

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