A lack of institutional control
Move for Petrino is nothing new for college football
Posted: Friday December 14, 2007 11:57AM; Updated: Friday December 14, 2007 3:40PM
I never saw Petrino B.
NFL teams wouldn't grab a guy under contract to another team, but the great educational institutions of our land find nothing wrong with it. So Bobby Petrino goes off to Hook 'em Hogs, or whatever the hell they do at the U. of Ark (famous grads, Noah and Joan of), leaving a bunch of furious NFL people who have the nerve to expect a coach to at least play out the year.
I don't include the Falcons players in that category. They are delighted to see Petrino's rear end moving in a westerly direction. I just marvel at the hypocrisy that is constantly reinforced by our leading institutions of learning.
The University of Alabama gets a double-dipper award. Nick Saban, most recently, but I remember many years earlier when they grabbed Ray Perkins while he was still under contract to the Giants. I attended the Wednesday press conference in Giants Stadium in which the president of the U. got on a speaker phone to express his joy at being able to land a coach of Perkins' quality. The guy was not only deceitful, but he was stupid, too, not realizing that he was addressing a group of New York area writers who weren't, uh, exactly in his corner.
Giants GM George Young was standing in the rear of the room, arms folded, too mad to take a seat, looking like Mt. Vesuvius in coat and tie. I asked the Bama prez some nebulous question about the morality of snatching someone else's coach, and an assistant to the president came on and announced that the press conference was over.
In 1976 I was the beat man, covering the Jets, when Lou Holtz resigned with one game to go in his first season. Ironically, the Jets' record at the time was 3-10, same as that of the Falcons. Ironically he went to the same University, Arkansas, which I just saw on the tube, delirious with excitement as Petrino led Pig Sooey cheers. There's another double-dipper school.
But what I remember about the Holtz episode is that there was very little bitterness when he left. He was noticeably unhappy in New York. He hated the cold. You'd see him out there at practice, shivering in a thin, team jacket, looking small and vulnerable, the players smirking at his misery, and you'd feel sorry for him -- at least I did. I remember writing a very soft piece about his leaving, and a day later I got a phone call from Dean Smith, basketball coach at North Carolina, thanking me for going so easy on Lou. Maybe the difference was that we all felt he was a really nice guy.
No one felt that way about Chuck Fairbanks, when he double-crossed the Patriots to get his University of Colorado deal all sewed up while a playoff season was still in progress. The record of stuff like this is endless, which is another reason why I never was much of a success at university life.
("Another copout, you mean," says my Flaming Redheaded wife, and honey, will you please be respectful when someone's trying to express real deep thoughts).
Petrino questions first, since it's the most recent item on my shattered mind.
Chad of Gainesville, Va., feels that one of Petrino's problems might have been that players today simply can't stand being pushed. "Vince Lombardi wouldn't last a year in today's NFL," he writes. Sorry, Chad, you're a good person, and from what I hear, a real snazzy dresser, but I think you're wrong here. I think a coach can get away with almost anything, and the players will go along with it, if he's got one major thing going for him, and I think it's the single greatest motivating factor -- if they're convinced he knows what he's doing. Dummies need not apply. I remember quite a few years ago talking to one of Bill Belichick's defensive tackles, Chad Eaton, and he told me, "You know what the real motivation is, playing for this guy? The fact that we all feel he's one jump ahead of whoever it is we're going up against."
And thank you, Mark of Gloucester, for what you wrote, and I can see why you'd feel that a team now would be nuts to hire one of those Joe College hotshots who skip town when things get tough. Plenty of good assistants around to choose from. Well, there's always that fear that the lure of the collegiate siren song will draw them back, but these things go in psychos ... make that in cycles. At one time that was the vogue, hiring college guys. The Cowboys had spectacular success with Jimmy Johnson. Personally if I'd hire one, I'd cover myself by having him leave a deposit that he'd forfeit if he skipped -- like his wife and kids, for example.