It happened again, folks. This time to Wisconsin as tight end coach Jay Boulware left his job of less than two months to take the same position at Oklahoma. New Badgers' head coach Gary Andersen made his frustration with the move clear and plenty of folks lined up to echo his sentiment.
To those rushing to preach loyalty and talk family and commitment, I implore you to see more than one side of things. Not because loyalty, family and commitment don't matter, but rather, because they most certainly do. More than most people losing their cool over coaching moves want to admit.
In the Adam Rittenberg post over at ESPN.com, he quotes Andersen talking about failing his kids, hiring the wrong guy and not liking the situation at all.
More power to him, because the new leader of the Badgers is certainly not wrong. That is not really the point here, to be honest.
Rather, the issue here is reaction to Boulware from other folks. The ones talking about his loyalty to the school. His commitment to the staff and the program. How he left his family, the team right before spring.
It sounds great. You get to shake your fist and talk about how the guy is a quitter. All the while you're ignoring his real actual family and his real actual career.
I should not be surprised, after all, the actual families of coaches and their career aspirations matter not to the fans or folks covering the story from the jilted side. To them, it is just about their program, the football and the team they root for.
Think bigger, folks.
Or, I guess, in this case, think smaller. Smaller than the college football world. Smaller than the conference. Smaller than the individual school. Smaller than the football team itself. Think about these guys on a more personal level.
Yes, they are actual people.
Like you, or me, coaches are looking to juggle three main components in their work life: family happiness, job security and furthering their career. That's the base level of what employment is all about. In certain situations, like when you get fired, just having a job is the best you can do to satisfy those needs. You need a paycheck and you can't sit around all offseason; you take what gets offered to you relatively quickly.
Other times, you get a chance to improve up your career needs in a big way. For some guys that means taking the same job in a region of the country that they are more familiar with. For other coaches that means taking a similar job with a more prestigious football program. For another group it means getting more control over their professional mission. While for some it is about working under a coach with a track record of grooming his assistants to do bigger and better things.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why coaches leave, and none of them have anything to do with commitment, or lack thereof, to the players or school. No, it has far more to do with their commitment to their families and their own career.
Yeah, in these situations, everyone is looking for someone to blame. Folks forget that these coaches are more than just cogs in a team; they are real people with real families and real career goals. Setting themselves up to ensure the security of their family, their career and reach their career goals have to be at the top of their list. As we've seen in the very recent past, passing up opportunities does not always end well for coaches.
It is not an ideal situation, but the idea of forcing coaches to stay does not do anyone but the school any favors. The real travesty here is that kids are not afforded the same fluidity in moving to improve their positions. If you're a tight end that signed to play for Boulware, or a kid he recruited to play at Wisconsin, tough luck. You're locked in, and if you want to leave after you get there, you'll be sitting out a year.
Losing the coach who recruited you, who you committed to play for stinks, but he has to do what's best for his family. Unfortunately, the real issue here is that schools and the NCAA don't think students should have the freedom.