Other than a consistent stream of CFB playoff info filtering in that we've discussed a'plenty on here, it's been a pretty quiet three months so far with most of the spring games yet to be played. Interestingly enough, three articles concerning SEC coaches have surfaced this week to provide a little fodder for sports fans. Often, stories concern the program at large rather than the coach specifically, but this time it's the head man making the news instead of trying to control it.
While it's always been well known that head coaches at any football factory are Teflon coated, last year's surprise firings of Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno showed many that chinks in the armor can be found. And while neither of those coaches were at SEC schools, it's also entirely possible that it's business as usual in the south land about the extremes of the sport that fan bases must tolerate to keep winning. Witness:
Last Friday, KoolBell brought up the curious case of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, he of Jetgate fame, and his placement on administrative leave after the AD opened an investigation into his motorcycle accident from ten days ago. With details of the crash coming in from his assigned state trooper and fans even throwing a pro-Petrino rally yesterday, the Razorback nation certainly appears to be divided, something the administration desperately wants. That way it looks like they did some soul-searching over the subject before they finally just slap him on the wrist.
While definitely being what many may refer to as a SOB, Petrino remains a damn fine football coach who landed in Fayetteville in of all places. He proceeded to turn the program into a SEC West and national contender, which come to think of it, are exactly the same thing. In the end, Petrino will have lied to his boss about a sex scandal. A top 5 finish last year, a probable top 10 start this season, and virtually no chance of hitting the coaching lottery again will be all the justification any Hog fans needs. Bobby, may I suggest to you next time taking a private jet?
Settling down is so hard to do. Take it from a confirmed bachelor. So it's with a heavy heart that I announce to you that it looks like Nick Saban's days of howling at the moon are done. I've known it for a while but some of you Auburn fans still were holding out hope. With the national title in January, invitations from NFL teams and even a few college ones were extended. But Nick's wandering eye appears to be no more.
"I had my chances and I've had chances since. I think you have to know yourself well enough to know that if I'm happy doing what I'm doing now, why do I need something else? Before as a coach, even when I was at LSU, I went all those years and it was always work hard to get the next opportunity."
The painful truth for a control freak is that you could never have only your fingers pulling the strings in the pros. When Alabama threw Nick the keys to the Capstone, it came with it the promise of total control, as the Tide nation also threw off most of the vestiges of family dysfunction that lingered since the days of Bear Bryant. It was the perfect storm. The controller not only gets to control the program, but the players, too. It comes under the auspices of coaching, and teaching, but with Saban it's all the same. Controlling crybaby millionaires in the NFL was a bit harder so we're not going to do that anymore.
For me, I think the arrival of Saban has actually been a blessing for the SEC. It's sharpened our game--not just Auburn's, but every team in the conference's. The standard has been raised so high in respect to national championships that the entire rest of the nation is looking to retool. It's not all the result of just one man though. But he didn't hurt.
But what happens when a coaching star burns so brightly before burning out and you're left with the white dwarf that Florida seems to be in the seasons following Urban Meyer? You rebuild, to say the least, in more ways than one, says an expose by The Sporting News that interviewed former players, coaches and staff of Meyer's. A cult of star player favoritism, inconsistent discipline, and rampant player arrests is alleged to have surrounded the program during Meyer's reign.
Meyer won two national titles in Gainesville, but at what cost to the program now? Were the seeds of the program's downfall sewn while he was still in residence? Other allegations of improper and over-aggressive recruiting seem to be following Meyer to Columbus, but many issues were left for Will Muschamp to clean up last year. 2011 was the Gators' worst season since 1987, Emmitt Smith's freshman year.
But rumblings were ever present during Meyer's tenure. Could some of the finer delicacies of a temperamental coach's personality been glossed-over because he was winning? Need I even ask?
In the SEC, you're in one of two camps: A) winning isn't everything, it's the only thing, and B) the other camp is a bunch of wusses. Trade-offs for pigskin success must be made with everything else. Sacrifices, too. No program is perfect. Before you disparage another school, think about how long it'll be before yours is back in the news for the wrong reason. Really, not much has changed behind the scenes with coaches and the players of your team over the years--except to how much their interactions seem to resemble the making of sausages and laws.