The holidays are my favorite time of the year. There’s my birthday, Christmas (so many presents and parties!), lots of bowl games, holiday cheer, great shopping, a new year and a chance to begin again.
It’s also the time of year when a head football coach loses all his nerve and guts and slinks away—almost always in the middle of the night—to accept a gig at another school, almost always calling it his “dream job.”
Which really does sound better than saying it’s all about the money (and possibly an out-sized ego).
This year it’s (former) UConn head football coach Randy Edsall who’s taking his talents to College Park.
Fresh off a Fiesta Bowl thumping, Edsall headed to Maryland to interview for—and eventually accept—the head coaching position vacated by ACC Coach of the Year, Ralph Friedgen, who was fired Dec. 20.
Talk about a lateral.
True to form, Edsall called it his dream job, which makes me wonder if he knows the Terps are in the ACC (and in Maryland.) Okay, the Big East is no Goliath either but why not wait until something better comes along?
Should athletes be allowed to transfer without penalty if the head coach leaves?
Like Northwestern. Or UCLA.
By all accounts Edsall’s a nice guy. Which makes his method of departure all the more puzzling. He did not fly back with his team after their first-ever BCS bowl game, choosing to interview for the Maryland job instead.
He also chose not to tell the players (and assistant coaches) he recruited to his program in person. He delivered the news via conference call.
Are you kidding me?
Of course, he’s not the first head coach to depart under shameful or controversial circumstances. Brian Kelly, Bobby Petrino, Rich Rodriguez, Lane Kiffin and my personal favorite, Nick Saban, were all roundly criticized for their evacuation plans.
Indeed, there are several problems with the manner in which these so-called leaders of men have chosen to behave.
First, let me say that coaches are entitled to take whatever job they want. But like most things in life, there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way.
The right way is to do what your mother always told you: treat people the way you would want to be treated.
I don’t know about you, but if I signed a letter of intent to play for Coach RubSomeDirtOnIt—if I bought into his coaching style, value system and work ethic, if I bet my future on him—then I would appreciate the courtesy of hearing the news in person, before some guy drinking beer and scratching himself reads it on the ESPN news ticker in between Family Guy commercials.
Especially because I’m more or less stuck at that school, unless I want to lose a year of eligibility or transfer down. Of course, neither of these rules apply to the coaches when they break their contracts.
The wrong way is to let your players find out by text message or ESPN while you wax poetic about there never being a good time to leave or an easy way to pussyfoot toward the door (and your dream job).
Edsall’s over 40. He’s a man. So are most of these other guys. They should start acting like it.
Since we can bet that (some) coaches will continue to disappoint, it’s time for the NCAA and conferences to adopt policies governing coaching behavior. There are zillions of rules for the (unpaid) student-athletes but a dearth of non-recruiting-related rules for (wealthy) coaches.
Let’s call them The Break-Up Rules: Coaches Edition.
1. If you want to stay single and play the field don’t buy your recruits engagement rings. Tell them you’re in this for now but if a Victoria Secret model comes along you can’t promise you’ll say no.
2. Tell your players you're breaking up to their faces, but preferably not at their football banquet. Have a private meeting before you tell SportsCenter. Do not break up by text, e-mail or conference call. What kind of loser are you?
3. If you want a divorce in the middle of your contract then any player should be able to transfer to any school he wishes without having to sit out a year OR you can’t date anyone for a year either. Make it equal.
4. Don’t lie about an affair. You have every right not to talk about your mistress. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. But don’t—a la Nick Saban—say you’re in a committed relationship when you’re being courted on the side. It sort of seems like you have no scruples.
5. Be honest. If the relationship ran its course just say so. Don’t talk about having met your soulmate when you’re going to Maryland. No one will believe you.