Today I saw a feature on ESPN’s College Football Live show called the Urban Meyer Leadership Series. I had just turned to ESPN so my initial response was to wait for the punchline… I mean, Urban Meyer? Really, Urban Meyer? This guy has clearly succeeded as a coach and just as clearly failed as a leader. His program has been riddled with arrests. How is it that this guy gets to be perceived as a credible source for leadership? This is part of the pattern of college coaching that saddens me.
Jim Tressel is finally forced to resign at Ohio State and Ohio high school coaches decide to honor him by planning to dress like Tressel in their first game. What example does this set for the athletes and communities of Ohio? Since you won, it doesn’t matter that you lack basic integrity? What other message could there be?
Sadly, the situation is probably worse in men’s college basketball. Kelvin Sampson and Jim Calipari left town just ahead of the NCAA posse in multiple locations. Both these guys had programs with major violation stacked on major violation. Distressingly, they continue to fall up, instead of down. Calipari has one of the very best jobs in his profession and Sampson is now the lead assistant for the NBA’s Houston Rockets and is perceived as a likely NBA head coach starting next summer. No penance has to be paid if you get to bowl games or the Sweet Sixteen. Conference championships and rivalry dominance absolve a multitude of sins.
Fans of college athletics are so accustomed to this sad situation that today there’s very little outrage about the ways college coaches abuse the system, their universities and their players. Or even the taxpayers who fund their million dollar salaries. It seems that Al Davis bespoke the future of college sports decades ago. Davis’ magic phrase? “Just win, baby.”