Monday, April 25, 2011

If Tressel ain't Safe..

...nobody is.

I spent two years in Cleveland, OH coaching at Baldwin-Wallace College, the alma mater of Jim Tressel.  There are a lot of people in Ohio, a lot of people in Cleveland and especially a lot of people at BW who think very highly of Tress.  Many of the folks that I got to know while coaching at BW knew Coach Tressel personally and I, myself, became sort of close with the Coach's brother (another BW alum who was pretty involved in the program).  I'm not going to rip Tressel here, because I think he's a stand up guy who made a serious mistake.  He's probably going to lose his job over it, in part, ironically, due to his carefully crafted reputation and in part because he's been so good.

The thing about it, is that Coach Tressel has become so powerful that he can't afford this mistake.  College football and basketball coaches are absurdly overpaid.  I've got quite a few friends in the coaching profession, and if any of them are reading this they might be a bit surprised and pissed to hear me say that, but it's the truth.  These guys have become brands, not coaches but brands.  Every time you turn on ESPN, these guys are guest commentating, or going through the "car wash," or tweeting or creating YouTube videos (check out this  Coaches have two reasons for doing all this, one, they have to if they want to compete, and two, they all have huge egos.  It's true, these guys get really caught up with themselves, and you would too.  If everywhere you went people not only treated you like you were a king, but they also listened to everything you said because everyone has been trained since they were like 5 years old to obey their coaches.  It's not these guys' fault that they act the way they do, it's ours!  It's everyone who boosts ESPN's ratings and loves the year round behind-the-scenes style coverage of college sports these days.

Coaches are responsible for so much money these days it's absurd.  They make more money than the University President in almost every case, they generate more money for the school than anyone else and they operate budgets in the tens of millions a year.  I heard somewhere recently that is costs $8,000 a day just to feed the University of Alabama football team.  That's a little less than $3 mil a year in training table.  With all that, their salaries are justified, but they are still overpaid.  They're overpaid because they have way too much responsibility.  It's impossible for a coach to be in charge of the entire program.  We give 3rd grade teachers the opportunity to send a kid out of class if that teacher can't control him/her and they're working with 25 8 year olds, not 85 20 year olds who are also a little full of themselves.  And disciplining the kids isn't even the hardest part of the job.  Recruiting those kids is.  Imagine you make $5 million a year and you know that if you lose four games for two years you might lose that gig, and in order to keep it you have to somehow convince 18 year old kids that you can get them what they want.  For some it's a shot at the NFL, for some it's a sweet apartment, for some it's p*ssy, for some it's a nice car...and even at that, you don't know what they're thinking.  When's the last time you had a productive conversation with an 18 year old where you felt like you knew exactly where they stood on anything?  It's all screwed up.

Coaches make too much, they're overworked and most of them don't even get to do what they really want, and that's coach football.  I don't know how you fix it, except to take the money out of it, and the day that happens will be the day that, well, I can't think of a strong enough metaphor...

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