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Post Game Tirades

by Patrick Snow

The words and actions after last weekend’s games by two coaches left a lot to be desired. While I may agree with the sentiment of both coaches, there are definitely better ways to express their message. These football ‘CEOs’ have to remember that their job entails being one of the most visible leaders in their State, and they must act accordingly.  Some fan bases get a little carried away with their goals for their team’s on-the-field performance, but they have every right to expect their highly-paid coach to know how to act in pressure situations and be a solid leader of young men.

Most people have already heard about Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's post game explosion. (clip below)

As far as Gundy’s tirade, the biggest problem I have is his timing. He took the spotlight away from his team, who had just fought their guts out to beat Texas Tech, in order to “protect” one kid who didn’t play. I happen to believe that Gundy was just letting out a week’s worth of frustration after getting waxed at Troy, and he used the Bobby Reid situation to do it. I don’t know how much he “protected” Reid by acting as if Reid was an 11-year old kid playing Pop Warner instead of a 21-year signal caller in the high-profile Big 12.

Additionally, I thought Gundy’s premeditated griping was made even worse by the fact the he knew he would be screaming at a woman, and he made sure to point out that “you must be some one who doesn’t have children”. That seemed pretty low to me for someone who is supposed to be a leader. If you have a problem with a media member, call them aside and take care of it instead of making a public spectacle. College football coaches in our region are extremely visible, and they cannot let a few sidebar issues distract them from the task at hand. As far as Lundy’s question “Who’s the kid here?”, he may need to look in the mirror.

While the whole sporting nation seemed to be focused on the crazed rant of Gundy, I was a little more surprised by lack of attention the words of Alabama czar Nick Saban received. During his Monday press conference, Saban called out his own fan base for a lack of class. That’s the same fan base whose passion for Alabama football allows him to be (by far) the highest paid coach in college football. No one condones bad behavior by fans, but what did Saban think he was getting in to when he went to Tuscaloosa? I wonder what Miami Dolphins’ fans think of Saban giving lectures on “class”. 

We all know what a big business college football has become, especially in the Footprint. And obviously with coaches receiving multi-millions per season, expectations are at an all-time high.  We at Swampland Sports know that college sports is the biggest piece of the sports world that defines the South.  These coaches are paid more than their professional counterparts in several instances.

Perhaps its high time to realize that these heightened expectations are creating new situations that demand new resolutions.  Coaches must accept and realize that many college fans live in a vacuum that their teams do not.  For Alabama to consistently remain near the top of the SEC, they must regularly beat other elite schools like Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, and LSU who all have fan bases that expect similar results to Alabama's fans.

For someone to win, another must lose.

To the unbiased observer, Saban is already working wonders at Alabama, but many of the Tide's longtime fans are thinking, "hey, $4 million should buy us at least a BCS bid every year!"  Likewise, many of Gundy's Oklahoma State fans expect him to be in the top half of the Big 12 South.  In both cases, the expectations can't always be fulfilled. 

College sports is more competitive than ever.  Scholarship limits and widespread TV exposure for even the small conferences have helped to level the playing field.  Salaries and expectations skyrocket while the gain may only be a game or two in the win column.  If currently embattled Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer only averages 9 wins a years and that is unacceptable, then how much pressure might be on the man who replaces him?  Does anyone want that extra million if the unspoken promise you are making is a guaranteed 10 wins and BCS bid every year?

The answer is yes, but whoever takes on this challenge must be ready to handle things with a little more grace and maturity than some of these coaches currently exhibit.

College sports in the Footprint is a high pressure and high expectations game.  If you are a coach leading one of these programs, then you must understand and properly handle this responsibility.  No longer is this just a game of X's and O's.  It never really was.  Be respectful, coaches.  Lecturing fans and/or the media should not be where you are spending your time.


* Albert Haynesworth has been a one-man wrecking crew on the Titans defensive line this season. Politics (last year’s suspension) may hurt his Pro Bowl voting, but if he plays 14-16 games at his current level, he should definitely be in Hawaii in February.

* Joe Gibbs may be a Hall of Famer, but his coaching staff botched the end of the Giants game. Not having Clinton Portis on the field for the last two runs was a mistake. Portis has to be one of the top five backs in the NFL when it involves running inside the 5-yard line. His excellent “nose for the end zone” would have served the Redskins well in an important divisional game.

* Bobby Petrino must instill a level of discipline with the Falcons if he is going to succeed long-term. Suspending DeAneglo Hall would hurt the team initially, but would make a positive impression on his troops as they navigate through a trying season. Hall’s behavior on the field and on the sideline was just ridiculous.

* I hate to look ahead when it comes to college football, but the first weekend in October has some huge matchups in our Swampland footprint. Three big SEC games (Florida at LSU, Georgia at Tennessee, Kentucky at South Carolina) as well as Oklahoma vs. Texas will provide some amazing entertainment and probably define the 2007 season in the South.

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