College Football's Limbo: The Towers of Silence

BabyTateSenior Writer IJune 20, 2009

Throughout the history of college football, coaches have survived losing seasons, losing streaks, and losing big games.

The one thing a coach cannot survive is when the fan base and the administration turn against him. There does not need to be a specific reason; it just happens and the coach is gone.

When Lou Holtz (see picture above) was coaching at Arkansas, he survived a confrontation with the future President of the United States and resurfaced at Minnesota. Later, at Notre Dame, he finally won his elusive National Championship.

On the other hand, Terry Bowden won his first 20 games at Auburn but could not survive a scandal that continues to hang around his neck.

Don't look for any sympathy from Larry Coker, who won his first 24 games at Miami but, soon, found himself out of a job.

It is a strange phenomena, an almost Limbo situation where coaches find themselves talking, but no one is listening. A type of "Towers of Silence" with no echo.

Let us present what must have been seven perplexed coaches of the past 30 years for your appraisal and perusal.

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Name                                   Record                 Last Year As Head Coach And School

7: Mike Archer                     27-18               1990, LSU

6: Gary Moeller                    50-37               1994, Michigan

5: Jim Carlen                       107-69              1981, South Carolina

4: Terry Bowden                   93-39              1998, Auburn (UNA as of 1/1/09)

3: Danny Ford                     122-59              1997, Arkansas            

2: Dick Sheridan                 121-52              1992, N.C. State 

1: Jim Donnan                     104-40              2000, Georgia

Who qualifies for such a purgatory? A list can be made of specific victims of this strange occurrence. However, the "why" part of the equation may never be answered.

One looks at the accomplishments on the field of the late Bruce Snyder and Larry Smith and wonder how many other fine young men they could have influenced had they continued in the high-profile positions to which they were accustomed. 

And, now, it is too late.

Some, as in the case of Terry Bowden, have secured a position on the sideline. He was named the new head coach of Northern Alabama for the upcoming season, following a decade-long hiatus from the sideline.

The same sideline has been host to men like Mike Archer. In the years since last wearing the label of head coach, he has labored tirelessly as an assistant.

A small group, such as Jim Carlen and Dick Sheridan, found financial reward in the private business sector. 

Others have taken their expertise into the television studios, often preparing remarkable analysis of upcoming clashes, frequently inspiring viewers with the belief their team has what it takes to produce a victory.

If this is the case, could not the same be done to a few dozen men ready to play the game?

We must hope that athletics directors reach out to those who have proven their qualities on the gridiron. If one has made a mistake, then let reason guide the decision-making process.

The wise British poet Pope remarked "To err is human, to forgive divine."

Maybe we should all take a lesson from Mr. Pope.

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