No More Mr. Mean Guy: The Days of Tough-Guy Coaches are Dead and Gone
Mark Mangino, Mike Leach, and Jim Leavitt. Three men with two things in common. They brought programs from out of nowhere to the national spotlight.
And these three men will not coach at those programs in 2010 due to "inappropriate conduct with players."
It's very unfortunate for these men that they are jobless. But if this was the 1970s, there is a great chance that they would still be coaching.
Coaches like Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant were known for their fiery personalities and their rough coaching styles. Hayes was even fired for hitting an opposing player during the 1978 Gator Bowl. But the days of hard, tough-loving coaches are long gone and are never coming back.
Let's go into why each coach has been axed. First, Mark Mangino, the AP coach of the year in 2007 where he led the Kansas Jayhawks to the Orange Bowl and an upset victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies, was accused of yelling inappropriate things at a player.
Receiver Raymond Brown, who was a senior last year, accuses Mangino of saying, "...I'm going to send you back to St. Louis so you can get shot with your homies" after Brown dropped a pass during practice.
Brown also told reporters that another teammate had told the rest of his players that his father was an alcoholic, which was very tough for him.
Later in the season, Mangino yelled at the player, in front of the whole team, no less, "Are you going to be a lawyer or do you want to become an alcoholic like your dad?"
Marcus Herford, another of the Jayhawks seniors last year, says he remembers the personal attack and agreed with Brown's claims.
Others have come out since then and claimed that Mangino attacked them as well.
On Dec. 4, 2009, Mangino "resigned."
Actions like this are flat-out awful and Mangino rightly deserved to lose his job.
The story of former Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Mike Leach is definitely the most quirky of the three. Receiver Adam James accused Leach of locking him in a dark place near the team's facility while practice was taking place.
James had a concussion at the time, which is considered mistreatment of an injured player.
These are actions that, according to Texas Tech, are grounds for suspension, and the university suspended him for the Alamo Bowl so the university could investigate. Then suddenly, he was fired on Dec. 30, 2009.
Leach's 10-year run at head man was suddenly over. He denies the claims that James was locked in a dark closet of sorts but does acknowledge that he was kept off of the practice facility. Either way, it's one strange situation.
I have never heard of such actions ever taking place in any sort of sport in this country. It's unorthodox for sure, but is it worthy of firing?
Jim Leavitt was fired today amid allegations that he choked and then slapped a player, running back Joel Miller, during halftime of a game this season. Miller's father originally reported this story, but then backed off of his original claim. Miller also denies that any wrongdoing took place.
But others in that locker room say they indeed saw Leavitt strike Miller during halftime of that game, and Leavitt consequently lost his job.
For the first time in the history of South Florida football, someone not named Jim Leavitt will be coaching the school.
But did Leavitt really hit Miller? Both parties in the dispute deny that any choking or slapping took place, yet another head coach is out a job.
Three great college coaches, all out of jobs because of acts of "meanness." Sure, what Mangino said was very harsh and borderline racism, and as I said earlier, definitely grounds for firing.
But do Leach and Leavitt deserve the same fate?
The great coaches of the past used intimidation and toughness to make their teams great. Times were a tad bit different then, but I'm sure Bryant or Hayes shunned a player out of practice a few times, and maybe hit a player once or twice, but they were never fired for actions such as this. (Yeah, Hayes was fired for hitting someone, but that was someone on the other team and that's another story.)
If schools want to find their next great coach, they will most likely need to deal with a little bit of scrutiny in their coaching philosophy.
In fact, both Mangino and Leavitt were both assistant coaches of Bill Snyder, one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. Nothing has been accused of Snyder, but who knows about his coaching practices and his effect on the two ex-coaches.
Where have the days of tough love in the game of college football gone? Sure, there are extremes, but were they reached in the cases of Leach and Leavitt?
I know I'm in the minority on this, but I say no. If Leavitt indeed choked a player as was reported, then yes he should be gone, but no one but the USF Bulls know what really happened.
Miller says that Leavitt grabbed his shoulder pads, and if that's the case, there is no way Leavitt should be out of a job.
They say that some things will never change, but the coaching world of college football has. Is it for the better or the worse? Only time will tell.
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