What Is Driving So Many Player Dismissals in College Football?
Florida Gators. Tennessee Volunteers. USC Trojans. South Carolina Gamecocks. Florida State Seminoles.
And the Oregon Ducks—again.
The most recent news of a college football player getting into trouble comes out of Eugene, Oregon where Jamere Holland has been dismissed for violating team rules.
Yawn—What else is new?
Time and time again we hear stories of another player getting into trouble, but the punishment seems to tie to the player's importance to the team. Is this an epidemic of sorts, or individual problems with each incident being tied to its own specific circumstance?
Let's look at the possible reasons behind the recent involuntary departures.
Possible Reason No. 1: Generation Y
Let's face it: we live in a Generation Y world. Attitudes and viewpoints on life and the world are much different today.
Back in the day, a coach was feared. The coach's word was law. The coach did not reach out to athletes and attempt to bond with them. There was separation.
A college education was something of great importance, but today for the majority of college athletes, college is just the path to the pros. Some realize they will not make the pros, but most enter college with their sights on a NFL career not a college degree.
This is a slippery slope. A coach that attempts to rule with an iron hand like Bear Bryant would do back in the day may fail miserably with today's athlete. However, a coach who buries their head in the sand (e.g. Ron Zook while at Florida) can easily find themselves out the door before they know it.
A coach who can figure out how to manage today's athlete is way ahead of the curve.
More insight in to today's athlete:
Possible Reason No. 2: Job Security
Clearly, the head coach of any college football team is under tremendous pressure, and some more than others (see the picture above for a good example).
Does the head coach take into consideration his job security to some degree when making a decision on the athlete's future when an issue arises?
Conventional wisdom dictates yes, of course they do.
One could be quick to judge the head coach that buries his head in the sand when one of his star players gets into trouble. Morality becomes a judgment call.
Possible Reason No. 3: Alumni/Booster Pressure
College football's political action committees (i.e. alumni associations) and special interest groups (i.e. booster clubs) are what drive a programs decision making process. If anyone tells you otherwise, then I have a great deal to sell you...
Seriously, athletic directors and coaches are under intense pressure from alumni and booster groups, and to keep the cash flowing they must keep them happy. Making careful choices that balance the needs of the many and the needs of the few are a risky business at best.
At the end of the day, some players will win, and some will lose. The reasons for each are not always crystal clear.
Possible Reason No. 4: The Athlete's Value To the Program
LeGarrette Blount stunned the college football world when his right-handed jab landed on the jaw of a smack-talking Boise State player at the beginning of the 2009 college football season.
Initially, Coach Chip Kelly announced that Blount would be suspended for the remainder of the season, but would remain on the football team. A red flag should have gone up right away; did Coach Kelly know that he had to keep Blount available if he was needed later in the season?
Blount later returned to action and played in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State. Surely he will go on to play in the NFL, and the incident will be eventually forgotten.
Are we a forgiving nation or simply want to see a winner regardless of the cost?