The Coaching Carousel: USC the Latest Crook

Cliff EasthamSenior Writer IIJanuary 13, 2010

Your word is your bond. How many times have we heard that tired old axiom?

In days gone by that was as good as anything man could write and swear by. Then came written agreements called contracts.

A contract is a legal agreement between two or more parties, specifying in detail what is expected of all parties concerned. It details the duties, limitations and usually the salary earned by the contractee.

Today it is sad to say, that word bonding has hit the bricks and run away with a half-grin on his face. I believe in many cases the same thing is happening with torn and tattered contracts.

Contracts have not always been a bad thing. When the parties sign them there are obligatory handshakes, smiles, a brief honeymoon of sorts and then the day to day grind ensues.

I am no lawyer and I don't play one in the blogosphere. However, I have signed contracts at both ends of the spectrum. If a contract says that the contractee is supposed to do this and that, and do not do the other thing, that is exactly what the contractee is expected to do and not to do. Case closed! Right?

Enter the sports world if you please. Coaches, professional and collegiate, must all sign contracts with the team or school they are employed by. The contract stipulates the length of the term and the amount to be made.

It does not take a lawyer, Judge Judy, or even a jailhouse lawyer to tell you that if the coach leaves prior to the end of his term, he is breaching his contract. By definition that means "to break or violate" (free online dictionary).

What is the penalty for that? If it is just fiscal penalties then the biggest fish in the ocean will win each time. Am I right?

Lane Kiffin was hired by the University of Tennessee to replace Phil Fulmer approximately 14 months ago. He sailed that ship to a 7-6 record after going 5-15 as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He was hired by USC to fill the void created when Pete Carroll was wooed by the Seattle Seahawks. Kiffin, 34, was an assistant at Southern Cal for a number of years under Pete Carroll before moving on to the NFL.

Dizzy yet?

His contract at Tennessee stated that if he left after only one season he would pay the school $800,000 in installments. Isn't that just peachy? Coach Kiffin is happy, USC is now happy, the players and fans at Tennessee are in turmoil. Where is lady justice when all this is taking place?

Notre Dame fired Charlie Weis so the ringmasters decided to go after the flavor of the year, Brian Kelly of undefeated (at the time) University of Cincinnati. After picking the pocket cleanly of the Bearcat faithful, the sleeping giant now wakes and looks in the same wooded forest where they found Kelly in the beginning.

Central Michigan was having a pretty good time with their third year coach Butch Jones. He had been hired to help re-establish the club at Kelly's parting to Cincinnati. He did well the first two years then went 11-2 in his third and final year.

The Bearcats have decided to see if lightning does indeed strike twice. They hired Jones to fill Kelly's old job. I am becoming dizzy now.

We will never see anything near an Eddie Robinson again. You remember him don't you? He coached Grambling University for 56 years. That is nearly as old as yours truly, and I can say that is a long time.

The coaching carousel is a messy lot at best. It is difficult to see whom the actual culprit is. Is it the coach or the agent? There is honor among thieves, but how about coaches?

I am of the opinion that more stringent penalties (and I do not mean financial penalties) need to be put in place to deter this kind of white collar thuggery from occurring as it does. If a coach decides to break a contract, he should be treated as one of the students who transfers to another school. That's right, I am talking about a one-year hiatus from the game.

Drastic? Can you think of a better penalty? Larger schools are eating up the smaller ones coach by coach. It is happening entirely too often. Look what we just went through.

I, Caesar Cliffius call for a moratorium to stop all predatory hiring until a penalty can be decided upon which will seriously deter this kind of flagrant thievery.

What are your thoughts?

Please visit my website where this article was first published.