With the recent comings and goings of college football coaches, compelling questions emerge for everyone to consider:
What do you want in and out of a head coach? What are your priorities? What do you insist upon? What are you willing to overlook? Select the answer that best suits you:
• A) A solid representative for your university who wins some and loses some.
• B) A flawed man who is a proven winner.
• C) A Boy Scout who wins just enough.
• D) A Sunday School teacher who prioritizes character over winning.
• E) Beelzebub with a whistle and a smile who wins you a national championship.
Be honest. If you had to pick just one for your school, which would it be?
In these modern times, votes for E) would outnumber votes for D), and votes for B) would outpace votes for A) and C).
Integrity, in the eyes and minds of a lot of college football fans, is an optional, kind of relative thing. It slides in direct relation to how many Ws end up on the record. And for some administrators, it’s a quaint little notion best kept out front, for appearances. Get caught, though, so as to embarrass a university and a school president, and no amount of winning will keep a coach his job.
That’s the game that is played in certain major conferences, where the money is deep and winning is king.
Many coaches, of course, have a little bit of every answer in them. But when Western Kentucky recently joined the Bobby Petrino Motorcycle Club, hiring the coach who just months ago was fired by Arkansas after crashing his bike with his mistress on board, the same mistress he had gifted with a job in the school’s football program, and later lied to his boss, let alone his wife, about the whole thing, you had to wonder. How is Western Kentucky going to sell that to its community?
It won’t have to.
Much — not all, but much — of that community will be excited to have a coach like Petrino in the fold, even if it’s for the short haul. The man will win, which, in turn, will give fans what they want — a bunch of victories — and administrators what they want — money — and Petrino what he wants — a shot to get back to the big time. And, from there, it’s all good. Even if the slime en route is neck-deep.
It probably will be cloaked in the noble coat of second chance.
Moralizing too heavy in the context of college football here comes across as naive, as unrealistic, as archaic. Not that they are mutually exclusive, but … do you want to win or do you want good manners taught to your team? You want Urban Meyer calling the shots or Mother Teresa?
We all get caught up in the winning, the emphasis on winning. You do, I do, we all do. It’s seen as more of a virtue now than honesty. If I had five bucks for every time I’d heard whispers about the bending and breaking of rules in college programs, some of them run by respected icons, I’d be richer than Bret Bielema. Anybody think the SEC is filled out with coaches who are men of innocence? You want good recruiters or Good Samaritans? You want Sweet Polly Purebred or Bob Stoops? You want a snake or a dove? You want Dudley Do-Right or Nick Saban?
You’ll take E), or B). There’s a name for A), C) and D). And, in our day, it’s the worst thing a football coach can be called: Loser.
Gordon Monson hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.