The Dirty Business of College Football Head Coaching
First of all I want to wish everyone a Happy Conference Championship Saturday! We have a great slate of games today and I will keep this short because I don’t want to detract from the terrific on field action. However a lot of the biggest stories of the day underscore a big problem that college football has so let me just bring a few items to your attention.
1- Florida State played a makeup game today that was originally scheduled for earlier in the season but was moved because of weather. Their head coach, Jimbo Fisher, was not on the sideline for the game because he resigned on Friday in order to accept the head coaching position at Texas A&M. Much like every college coach in America, over the last eight years Jimbo sat in the living rooms of dozens of recruits and told them and their parents that he would be there for them if they committed to play at his program. If a player decides to change schools he has to sit out a year as a sort of transfer penalty, but there is no such rule for coaches. Jimbo will probably start recruiting for A&M today, as he should, but it feels like we could probably do better.
2- UCF defeated Memphis in the highest scoring conference championship game in college football history earlier today. It was a double OT thriller that may turn out to be the best game of a loaded day of football. The AAC is the best conference that isn’t in the Power Five and UCF will definitely be playing in a New Year’s Six game, just 2 years removed from a win-less season. Their coach, Scott Frost, accepted the Nebraska job and the news broke today DURING the conference championship game. The timing was so awful that he didn’t even get a chance to speak with his team before the media was all over him about it. Todd McShay seemed genuinely sorrowful that he had to ask the coach about Nebraska right there on the field, but of course he had to bring it up. The “BREAKING NEWS” scroll on ABC ran the headline over and over during both overtime periods letting the TV audience know that Coach Frost had already accepted his dream job, the head coaching gig at his alma mater. I’m sure in the next few days we’ll find out whether the news made it to the UCF sideline, and I don’t even blame Frost for this, but it sucks that it went down this way. Like Jimbo, Scott Frost made commitments to several players and families that he broke today. Also, there is just about no chance that he will be on the sideline when his boys play the biggest bowl game in program history a month from now. Terrible.
The truth is, under the current model, there is no good time for a coach to leave. This happens every single year and there are always a lot of hurt feelings. Top notch coaches command big time salaries, often millions per season, so I don’t begrudge these guys moving on to better jobs/new challenges/whatever. I just feel like there has to be something that can be done to make this process better. As I said, I think today should be about the games so I am not venturing into the debacle surrounding Tennessee’s head coaching crisis or the obvious question that arises when you see what the coaches make: Wait, the players don’t get any money to play, but the coaches are getting millions of dollars per year to coach? These are topics for a different day though.
Enjoy Championship Saturday everybody! Even if you have to deal with some awkward stuff surrounding the coaches.