In life’s lessons, we preach commitment, loyalty, trustworthiness, faith, and devotion. This is exactly what recruiters preach to their potential recruits each season. This is along the lines of what Brian Kelly expected from his Cincinnati Bearcats team, who went undefeated in the regular season of 2009 in collegiate football.
Kelly’s team even came from behind in a heart battle-tested game against Pitt in the snow for the Big East championship. His players gave him everything they had to win. Kelly didn’t do the same. He flirted with Notre Dame, the school with the most NCAA Football championships, and later thanked his team for their efforts during an introduction statement in a press conference for the Fighting Irish.
Meanwhile, life still goes on for the players who gave their heart and soul, and who helped the coach achieve his dreams of an undefeated regular season. And Kelly has the nerve to say he would have coached the team in the bowl game to further pour salt in the wound.
There needs to be a tampering rule in place for NCAA football to prevent coaches from leaving their programs until after the team’s designated bowl game is completed. This would at least give the team some closure for all their efforts and somewhat satisfy every effort the players gave to the coaching staff. Not all of these players are professional material and they deserve a fair chance at closure for their season-long efforts.
When the coach sets the goal at the beginning of the season to become the champion of the conference, he sets out for his players to achieve results at the very highest level and does not include a statement about players quitting. The coach neglected his commitment, the very same thing which is preached by recruiters to bring these players to the program. Just imagine, players quitting their teams in a similar fashion to go to the NFL right before the bowl game because they do not want to hurt their draft status or risk injury. The coaches seem to get a free pass for leaving a program flat on its face.
Schools are also to blame. Think back to the University of Michigan trying to pull Les Miles away from LSU days before the biggest game of his coaching career, the BCS National Championship game.
Kelly illustrated exactly what is wrong with college football. The lack of heart -- which is preached to kids upon recruitment day, and is often abandoned by the coaches themselves.
When a player quits a team, he is looked upon as a coward. But when a coach suddenly leaves for a perceived bigger program, it is looked at as a business move. Shouldn’t the coaches be viewed in the same manner as the players?
These programs which seek new coaches should be held to a specific date after the end of bowl season to begin their searches. Discussions before that date should result in hefty fines against the coach himself and the institution soliciting the coach who is under contract. This would give the kids some closure and it would keep the coaches in the locker room instead of at the bargaining table before the big game.