Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I'm hard-pressed to remember a wackier time in coaching.

Try to follow this, if you will. Mark Mangino (Kansas), Mike Leach (Texas Tech) and Jim Leavitt (South Florida) either resigned or were fired because of alleged or real abuse of players. Urban Meyer quit at Florida due to health reasons but then decided to take an extended leave of absence instead. Coaching legend Bobby Bowden retired at Florida State. And, he has since learned that a NCAA probation may wipe out up to 14 victories on his all-time wins list. Charlie Weis was let go at Notre Dame and is now the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs working for a guy who, you guessed it, only about a year ago was the offensive coordinator at the Arizona Cardinals.

Out in SoCal, Pete Carroll finally decided it was time to get out at USC before the posse arrived, given what appears to be an impending probation, and left for the head coaching job at the Seattle Seahawks. Quickly jumping into the open USC job was Lane Kiffin--yes, the same Lane Kiffin who left Oakland after clashing with Al Davis and who then spent all of one season at Tennessee...but not before calling out the aforementioned Meyer for alleged recruiting violations.

Down in Alabama, Tommy Tuberville raised his hand when Kansas was looking for a coach, saying "I'm interested." When Tuberville didn't even get an interview at KU, he campaigned for Leach's old position at Tech and has since ended up in Lubbock.

So, in the space of one post-season, we've had or will have coaching changes at Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State and Tennessee. Those five schools represent a lot of national championships.

Over in the world of college hoops, we have ex-coach Bobby Knight calling out Kentucky coach John Calipari, suggesting that Cal shouldn't be in coaching given the probations he left at Massachusetts and Memphis after guiding both schools to Final Fours. Also in the Commonwealth, Rick Pitino is trying to rehab his image after a very public story about an extortion attempt which caused Pitino to admit having sex with the wife of a team trainer.

Locally, Kansas State coach Frank Martin admitted that "these are sensitive times" when apologizing for striking a player late in Saturday's game against Missouri. What Martin didn't elaborate on is why now is a time when it's more "sensitive" to strike a player versus, we assume, years ago when it was less sensitive?

What's it all mean? It means that more and more coaches are the story—not the players on the field or on the court. And, perhaps that is as it should be. All of the coaches named above measure salaries in the millions of dollars. But, for the NCAA and coaching associations like the National Association of Basketball Coaches, it raises the question “is this as it should be?” In a college sports world supposedly focused on the student-athlete, it’s hard to come to grips with the salaries, negotiations, broken contracts, power plays and sometimes abusive behavior which seems to be more the norm than the exception in today’s world of collegiate athletics.

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