Sports

Five simple rules to keeping your job

For fun, let's pretend like we're Division I football coaches. In that role, we are all also millionaires.

As the CEOs of our programs, we directly oversee up to 200 people, including our players. In that role, we also must satisfy our shareholders (fans), that can number in the millions.

In this role, we would like to keep our jobs.

For that we need just these five simple rules.

Especially Rule No. 5.

1. Do not, under any circumstances, strike your players (or the other team's players). Especially not in front of anybody.

Former Kansas coach Mark Mangino allegedly poked a player at practice. Former South Florida coach Jim Leavitt full-on pimp-slapped a player in the locker room. Woody Hayes, anybody? Bob Knight?

This is by far the simplest of the rules. Resist the urge to beat your players and, voila, monsieur, you're already on your way to keeping your job.

2. Racial insensitivity? Also a bad idea.

Being a football coach means you're going to have a lot of kids from many racial and ethnic backgrounds. Do not use said backgrounds to motivate said players. Use playing time, their future and their scholarships. If that doesn't work, you probably didn't want them on your team in the first place.

Which leads us to...

3. Watch who you recruit.

Adam James did not just show up at Texas Tech one day on Mike Leach's doorstep like a baby dropped off by the stork. The process in which a player ends up on a football scholarship at a Bowl Subdivision school is an intense, scrutinized ordeal in most cases. The coaches will watch film. They will go to games. They will visit the player in his house. They will talk to his coaches. They will look at his grades. In some cases, they will review his rap sheet. In the end, only the head honcho signs off on who gets the full ride.

So when you get stars in your eyes when the son of (insert famous athlete here) shows up for a visit, or that blue-chip recruit with a huge chip on his shoulder sends you game tape, go take a cold shower. It might not be worth it.

4. Don't isolate yourself.

Each coach, in his own way, lets their level of success go to their head. Leach held the trustees and the president at Tech hostage over his contract the last couple of years and never seemed to realize, maybe, in West Texas, the quirky, West Coast-educated lawyer turned football guru might not play so well with the brain trust that runs most of the state-college system. Mangino could never see his own, self-made reputation as a bully. Leavitt thought that since he built the program at USF, it was his.

They were all wrong.

5. Do not lose.

This is the most important of the five rules. Each of the aforementioned five coaches had one common problem that trumped all others in their final season: They lost games they were supposed to win.

Mangino dropped seven in a row to end the year, including at Colorado and at Kansas State. Leach lost to Texas A&M in Lubbock. Leavitt's squad got dumped 31-0 at Rutgers.

You win, and the first four rules really mean nothing. At that point, you can make your own rules.

Now go win that bowl game.

  Comments