If I were a coach, I would be the female Bear Bryant, with the exception of nearly killing kids by overheating them in the summertime and denying them water breaks. Otherwise, I’d channel him all the way down to the two houndstooth skirts I have. Parents and kids would consider me a hardass and I wouldn’t be very popular, but I guarantee you I’d have the cleanest, smartest team in America.
I imagine my conversations with players, parents and boosters going something like this:
I expect you to put academics first and I won’t tolerate any bullshit about how hard it is to balance school and football. You’ve been playing since you were about six or seven, how did you handle it before now? It won’t get any easier when you’re in the real world and trying to balance marriage, work and your kids’ schedules, so consider this practice. As a player you have five years to get a four year degree, and you have access to tutors and academic resources the general student population doesn’t have. I understand that you can get in over your head in a class or two — it happened to me a couple of times –but there’s a huge difference between seriously struggling and just not giving a rat’s ass enough to go to class. The chances are slim you’ll get into the NFL and if you do, your career is likely to be 3 1/2 years at most. What will you do with your life then if you squander your education now? If that doesn’t convince you to study, maybe this will – the NCAA now allows redshirt freshmen to play 4 games without burning their redshirt. If you don’t go to class, I’ll bench you and put someone in who has enough self-respect and pride to want to succeed in life beyond the game. Work hard, do your best on and off the field, and you’ll successful. Screw around and don’t take it seriously and see where that lands you.
You are the player, I am the coach. What I say is gospel and I treat you the way I do for a reason. I’m not trying to bully you when I raise my voice. I do so for one of three reasons 1) you’re slacking off 2)you’re not paying attention and making the same mistakes repeatedly or 3) you’re disrespecting the coaches and your teammates. Show up with a good attitude and the will to succeed every day and you’ll be fine. Question your playtime, act like you know better than the coaches, act like a victim or throw shade and you won’t play.
I can’t tell you not to take part in social media, but please remember, everything you say and do online is permanent. If you do something dangerous, illegal or immoral and get in trouble, I can’t necessarily help you if you post it all over Twitter and Facebook. Actions have consequences, the least of all being that you would get kicked off the team. Be cautious and use your brain.
I recruited your son for his talent. I saw it. I know he’s a good player. But he’s one of 85 good players on our team. I don’t need you calling to remind me and I certainly don’t need you questioning your son’s playing time. I don’t mind if you get in touch with me for a legitimate reason — I’ll be more than happy to help out if it’s in my power to do so, but please. Don’t get stars in your eyes thinking of the McMansion he will buy you with his signing bonus. I’m the coach, not his agent. Please don’t expect me to behave otherwise.
My staff and I appreciate your financial contributions and your investments in our department more than we can say, but please remember. Your money may buy you a piece of the stadium or a spot on our donor wall, but it doesn’t in any way buy you the right to tell me how to do my job. I know it’s a small number of you who behave that way, but don’t try to tell me how to do my job. After all, I wouldn’t come to your office and tell you how to do yours would I?
While I’m joking a bit with this post (only a little bit if I’m honest), I seriously wouldn’t be able to be a coach, especially in this day and age. The crap they take is insane, and they place their livelihoods, reputations and sanity in the hands of 18 to 22 year old boys…it’s a career without equal, and I totally respect them for putting up with what they do. It’s truly a sign of their passion for the game that they can put up with so much and still love what they do. My hat’s off to all the coaches I’ve known over the years. I certainly respect them. I just couldn’t BE them.