I wanted to post some food for thought and also get some other points of view. If you have read this blog, you have seen the Coaching Knowledge Project that I have put together, consisting of my notes from reading about various high profile football coaches. After my recent Urban Meyer post, I received a comment which I actually very much agree with....
This is the comment: With all that said, what about the comments he made to Muschamp? "This program is broken". WTH does that mean? What it means is, he didn't follow what he has written here. 32 arrests in his time at UF?! I may be a bitter Gator fan, but there is no greater hypocrosy than what you have written here (not attacking you, I'm talking about Meyer, this is a GOOD blog post). Look at his player goals, and tell me if they acheived that with 32 arrests during his tenure. The program was broken b/c Meyer broke it...just keep that in mind to all that read this...
I believe this comment has several very good points. There are some strong accountability questions with Urban Meyer and the current state of the Florida Gators Football Program. But the sad thing is, I don't think that Meyer is neccessarily unique among the profession. I have been lucky enough to coach young men that were highly-recruited, allowing me some limited access to meeting some of the greats of college coaching, as well as some up and comers. When you spend time around coaches or you hear some of the inside stories or even read some of the books about these men, you realize that, almost to a man, they are very flawed individuals.
For one, the top coaches are almost always borderline (or sometimes not so borderline) egomaniacs. Sometimes these anecdotes have a "cute" feel to them, like Holtz insisting on his soft drinks in the cart at practice or Sean Payton and his chewing gum. You laugh, but do you really stop to think about this? What other profession would this fly in? But I also have knowledge of a DI Head Coach (not anymore) who stopped practice and ordered his assistant coaches to sprint across two practice fields, touch a fence, and come back, all while the players sat and watched, simply because the team was practicing badly. Are you kidding me? The most disturbing point of this is that all of the assistants complied. What that tells me is that many of the assistants in DI jobs are willing to do almost anything to keep their job.
And I don't think this is anything new. The point that I am getting to is that, on the way up the ladder, I think that many of these high-profile coaches have had to make compromises that have damaged their integrity, their character, and their self-awareness. For instance, how could Todd Graham not realize that texting his resignation was absolutely the wrong way to do things. And yet, he appears oblivious. And I have heard good things about Graham before.
Unfortunately, the men who have had the greatest success in our profession are not balanced men. They have had to sacrifice some of who they are off the field and at home in order to reach their ambitions. The worst thing seems to be that when they reach the pinnacle, they appear to have some disconnect from the rest of the world. I'm not just talking about the "outlaw" coaches; I'm talking about Bowden and Walsh and even Paterno (for years the bastion of integrity in the coaching profession).
Are these coaches bad people? No. Should they be drawn & quartered and thrown away? No. Do they have knowledge to offer that is of value to those of us trying to become better coaches? Yes, of course. These men have been outstanding or else we would not be discussing them. I will use Urban Meyer as my example. When I look at some of his thoughts and ideas and philosophies, I am studying someone who took three programs (Bowling Green, Utah, and Florida) from downturns to extreme heights in a very brief amount of time. I am also studying a coach who has helped many of the young men who played for him attain outstanding athletic and personal growth. I believe that he cares about his players deeply. But I also believe that he let the program at Florida get away from him and, instead of determining to right the ship, he took a sabbatical.
I don't know these men personally. We all have flaws and issues, with our ego and other things. And we have the luxury of living outside the spotlight, so our flaws are not necessarily on display. What I am asking is, "Can we gain any knowledge of value from thse men, even though we may question their integrity or values?
As a young coach, I worked as a GA for an underfunded I-AA program that at times was run like a club team. I also worked for a high school state championship program that is still the most professional organization that I ever spent time with. The funny thing is, I learned a huge amount from both situations. You learn how things should be done and you learn what not to do. I believe that this is how we should study the "Big Time" football coaches, looking at the good and the bad.