Across the nation, football is revving up. From the NFL on down to junior football leagues, pads are cracking, sprints are being run, and kids who spent too much of the summer playing Minecraft instead of playing outside are puking and regretting their lazy months.
Since attention is turning back to the great American sport, something has been getting at me for some time now and I want to, at least in part, talk about what pains me about the current state of college football.
Now, I don’t mean to say that Coach Meyer is the only thing that is wrong with college football so much as to say that he represents what is wrong with my favorite sport.
Most college football coaches are raging egos. They’re alpha males. Control freaks. Urban Meyer certainly represents all those things. He’s also a great football coach. He helped an Ohio State team that was on probation go 12-0 in his first year. Clearly, he has his eyes on a national championship. And that’s where I see the problems starting.
College football has become such a big money game and with the addition of a playoff system there will be more games for the best teams to play and subsequently, more money for the programs that get into the playoffs. This creates a mentality that says “WIN AT ALL COSTS!” to the coaches. If you don’t win, you’re unemployed. Gone are the days of being judged as a coach by graduation percentages and turning out good men who are contributing to society.
Again, Urban Meyer is the example of how this plays out in reality. I understand coaches who want to work with troubled kids and help turn them around. Those stories are incredible. However, I think the norm has become to use those players, to tolerate their behavior, and win. Win at all costs.
This plays into hiring coaches who see a hill and take the hill. It doesn’t matter to them the trail of blood and broken lives they leave behind so long as they accomplish their goal. To strengthen the case for my point, let’s examine Coach Meyer’s resume:
He coached 6 seasons at Florida winning 2 national championships.
Also while at Florida, there were 31 arrests of 25 players.
The charges ranged from DUIs and bar fights to violation of sexual restraining orders, aggravated stalking and resisting arrest.
In 2 years at Ohio State, he has that perfect season and is considered a top contender to win it all this year.
They’ve also had 8 arrests.
Again, they’ve ranged from bar fight arrests to domestic assault and battery.
While Urban certainly has a lot of arrests under his tenure, OSU isn’t the only program. Sadly, it is becoming the norm. Coaches use players with issues that need to be worked on instead of ignored. Those same players are turned into heroes because of what they can do on a field. Universities, conferences, and the NCAA turn away from these issues because they are making big money off of great players and coaches.
The major lesson that their culture is teaching? Character doesn’t matter, winning and money does.
That’s a major reason why on Saturdays this Fall, my favorite team playing will be the ones with my boys on them. Their coaches are volunteers who give up what spare time they have to develop boys who can work with a team, learn discipline and respect, and learn that it is ok to win and lose (though winning is more fun) so long as you give it all you have. Those are lessons worth learning. Lessons that college football has sadly forgotten.