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Friday, August 9, 2013

Coaches Just Aren't Doing Enough

Wild on Sports
Coaches Just Aren’t Doing Enough
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

College football coaches get paid, on average, $1.64 million each year in order to help their players perform on the field and off it. However, higher profile coaches like Urban Meyer ($4 million), Les Miles ($4.3 million), and Nick Saban ($5.3 million) are given higher salaries and more contract incentives to deliver at schools where there are extremely high expectations. However, in light of the Aaron Hernandez saga, and after recent comments by TCU head coach Gary Patterson, it seems that the coaches with the highest expectations are caring less about the off-the-field teaching, and have become solely focused on winning. Though the pressure to win at the highest level is extremely important to the coaches, schools, and conferences; coaches need to realize that their main job is to prepare their student athletes for the outside world, in the event that sports doesn’t work out, and it seems that they are failing.

I will not sit here and say that the Aaron Hernandez saga is Urban Meyer’s fault, but there were plenty of steps that he could have taken that could have changed people’s fates. In May of 2007, months after enrolling at the University of Florida, Hernandez assaulted an employee of a Gainesville bar, and the police recommended he be charged with felony battery. However, in a “mysterious” turn of events, Hernandez was never arrested and the police noted, “it was unclear how or whether the case was resolved.” Later that year, Hernandez was questioned about the shooting of two people in Gainesville, after being identified with fellow teammate Reggie Nelson as the shooters. Later that day, the witness redacted both Nelson’s and Hernandez’s names from the record, but the case is being considered an “open investigation,” though no further attempts to find the shooters had been pursued until Hernandez was recently named in the Odin Lloyd murder. The only punishment that Hernandez ever received was a one game suspension for a positive marijuana test, never receiving any punishment or restrictions due to his more violent crimes. In Meyer’s six years at Florida, there were at least 31 arrests involving 25 different players, with 12 of the arrests involving felonies or violent misdemeanors. Things haven’t changed for Meyer since he arrived at Ohio State, with starters Bradley Roby and Carlos Hyde getting into trouble this offseason. Bradley Roby, a starting cornerback on OSU, was charged with misdemeanor battery for starting a bar fight and striking a bouncer. No punishment has been handed down for Roby and while it’s speculated that he will be suspended; Meyer has been reluctant to punish the best player on his team. Carlos Hyde, the team’s starting running back, will be suspended for the first three games of the season after assaulting a woman at a downtown bar. Though Meyer can’t control everything that his players’ do, if he recruited better people and instilled better values in his players, without letting them get away with their transgressions, it is likely that his teams would have less legal issues.

Another perfect example of putting winning over the development of college football players into responsible members of society was recently pointed out by TCU coach Gary Patterson. TCU faces off against LSU in the first game of the year for each team, and TCU has always been a strong team, and is looking to get back to a BCS bowl after struggling the last two years. LSU head coach Les Miles announced, on Tuesday, that star running back Jeremy Hill will be reinstated to the football team, and able to play in the game. Hill was suspended after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery after running up and punching a man in the back of the head. If that wasn’t enough, Hill was already on probation for having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. Miles allowed Hill back onto the team after having a “team vote” to decide whether or not to allow Hill back onto the team. Patterson is a coach who understands what it means to develop men, because he has suspended star defensive end Devonte Fields for the LSU game for what is being describe as a minor violation of team policies. Patterson came out, after Miles’s decision, and was very honest and aggressive in his comments, saying that he knows that “the whole team would vote Devonte back on the team because they want to win.” He later added, “That doesn’t teach life lessons,” showing that Patterson understands the responsibilities that he has as a college football coach. Patterson has said he wouldn’t consider changing the suspension to Fields, which means that the Horned Frogs will be without their best player for the game against the #13 Tigers, hoping that it will educate Fields and the rest of the underclassmen as to the responsibilities that they have as players and people.

The need to win in college sports, football specifically has altered the way that college coaches, at premier football programs, treat their job and responsibilities. Athletic Directors across the nation should start putting clauses in coaches’ contracts that if a certain amount of players are arrested, or if they are arrested for serious crimes, the coaches should not be able to get their full pay. After all, college football coaches should be teachers and mentors, focused on preparing their players for life after college, rather than worrying about getting themselves more lucrative contracts.

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