Monday, December 28, 2009

An Overshadowed Bowl Game

This is not a post about the BCS system and all it's short-comings. That argument has been hashed out almost repeatedly since it's inception. Some years the derision is worse than others, and this year's is no exception with 5 undefeated team and only 1 game that "means" anything. In fairness, I think the system, flawed as it is, got it right as Texas and Alabama probably are the best two teams in college football. But again, this is not a post about the BCS.

All to often the bowls that are not the National Championship Game are "exhibition" games, as the teams really aren't playing for much of anything. Unfortunately, this year's Sugar Bowl takes exhibition to a whole new level. The game isn't even about the players it's about the coaches: the one who isn't there, and the one who may or may not be coaching his last game.

Brian Kelly's decision to take the Notre Dame job is pretty understandable. The Irish are a college football institution (even if they don't deserve to have their own network), and a job that the vast majority of coaches (at any level) would happily take. Kelly's decision to leave before his team's final game does not rise to the level or Bobby Petrino's desertion of the Atlanta Falcons (although there are more similarities than even I'd like to admit), it is regrettable nonetheless. The NCAA's recruiting period all but requires Kelly to make the decision he did (as it arguably did for Petrino): coaches in college football cannot waste recruiting opportunities since the players who bring in are almost as important as the strategy who implement on the gridiron (although even that wasn't enough to save Charlie Weis). It doesn't make Kelly's decision admirable, but certainly understandable. That the NCAA's recruiting policy encourages such decisions is again regrettable, but like the BCS system itself, not the focus of this piece.

In my view, Urban Meyer's predicament is something completely different. The Florida coaches Saturday resignation, followed by a Sunday indefinite leave of absence has completely overshadowed the game that was to be his last (at least for a while). Moreover, his announcements were completely unnecessary. I understand Meyer wanting to fire his players up for his last game; giving them something to play for in an exhibition game. That's all well and good, but to make the announcement without 100% conviction is wrong. Did Coach Meyer not think he'd miss coaching? Miss the action? Miss his players? Was the indefinite leave of absence possibility not discussed with his family or the Florida Athletic Director before Saturday's startling announcement? The answer to all these questions, would have to be a resounding "no, of course not." Thus Meyer's decision to make the announcement and then recant has to seen as ego-driven. I know, it's shocking to think a college football coach would have an ego.

I'm not saying Meyer meant for all this to happen. But I am saying that his bungled weekend should be put into some context (in this case, my own). We at VSL hope Meyer will be able to find the work-life balance that we all strive for. Certainly, it seems college football coaches have a more difficult a time than most. As John Feinstein writes in his blog today, I wouldn't hold your breath for Meyer to reinvent the wheel and "have it all." What I am saying is that Coach Meyer's decision has over-shadowed a game that was already devoid of much of it's meaning to begin with. Unfortunately, the biggest story lines during the New Year's Sugar Bowl will be about the coach who isn't there, and the coach who can't seem to make up his mind.

What do you think? What's your take on Meyer's indecisive weekend?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is it with UF coaches and their indecisiveness? Wasnt it just a few years ago when Billy Donovan left for the Magic and then backed out to go back to UF? Obviously a very different situation, but still a similar happening.