WESTWOOD—Every week I write about what is going on at UCLA and anything exciting that’s happening in the athletic world, but every person has something that really gets them going, something they absolutely can’t stand—like people who drive the speed limit in the carpool lane or someone going in the express lane with two carts full of groceries. There are many different pet peeves, but for me I can’t stand the ever revolving door of head coaching jobs in college football.
It seems like loyalty is a word that doesn’t exist in the realm of coaches. They come into a program fired up and preaching to their players about togetherness and family, but the next thing you know they are gone, off to another school because the grass (and the money) is apparently a little greener on the other side. All of the events been talked about over the past few weeks are a prime example of this rapidly escalating problem in college football, and now UCLA may be sucked into that same black hole as well.
Everything started with Pete Carroll’s decision to make the jump from the college ranks to coach the big boys in the NFL. Now I can’t fault anyone for leaving a college job to go to the NFL, I mean the stage doesn’t get any bigger than that when it comes to football, unless you are playing football in Europe. What I have a problem with is the aftermath that followed Carroll’s departure. After scrambling to find someone quickly to replace their head coach and keep the recruits from jumping ship, USC successfully lured “coaching sensation” Lane Kiffin away from the Tennesseee Volunteers. Kiffin was there one year, only one year, he didn’t even wait for the blueprints to be finished or the paint to dry, he just jumped ship when he saw a better boat. Unfortunately, like most coaches who have been in the same situation, Kiffin failed to think about the crew he left behind. I’ve been in many coach meetings throughout my time playing football and there is not one coach who doesn’t talk about being a team player and being a family and looking out for your teammates. I know Lane Kiffin was saying the same thing to those players he left choking on his dust in Tennessee. What are players supposed to think when a new coach comes in preaching about change and how everything is going to be better, but then when a better deal comes along, they are out the door before you can even blink.
All the focus is on Lane Kiffin because his story is so fresh, but there are many other coaches who have followed the same mantra. Get a nice job at school, fool everyone into thinking you want to be there, but all the while you’re auditioning for your dream team and waiting for them to call. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive. Money makes the world go round and it always will, but the way it is put on public display in college football is nothing short of despicable. A head coach is the leader of their team, what type of message is being sent to those young men on that team they just left? What these head coaches are doing is basically telling those players that life is all about moving to the next one. Whenever a better deal comes a long don’t worry about what you left behind, just go for it. You’re married? Who cares! You like that hot blonde who gave you a wink at the bar the other night, just go ahead and sleep with her, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
Players left behind on these teams for awhile are almost like chickens with their heads cut off. They have no idea where to turn to, where they are going and what to do, but thankfully, a lot of the time schools are able to bring in a good coach to stabilize the situation and that’s all fine and dandy, but what about those schools that are not able to recover? When a head coach leaves, especially how Lane Kiffin did, the programs sometime take years to get back to where they want to be. They lose recruits, current players lose faith and fans lose interest. A head coach has more an impact on their team than the players, but oddly enough the NCAA doesn’t feel that way.
If a player wanted to change schools and go to another Division 1 school, they have to wait a year to play because it would supposedly be unfair to everyone else, but players do not get paid and it usually takes a little while to get assimilated to a new team. A coach on the other hand can switch schools as much as they like without having to wait one minute, and unlike players they are getting paid thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars. When they get there, they don’t have to do any adjusting, it’s the team that has to adjust to them. The coach is bringing his own staffs, his own plays, and his own attitude to wherever he is going, they are not uncomfortable at all, but yet the NCAA allows them to continue down this path of exploitation.
It’s time the NCAA put an end to all this chaos and hold coaches to the same standards players are held too. After all it’s the players that are doing all the work to pay for those hefty salaries some of those coaches are toting around, and I think it’s time the false advertising stopped and they get what they paid.