A head football coaching position in the NCAA is an amazingly powerful and scrutinized job. Stress, ego, expectations, and control dominate the profession. Your every move, both on and off the field, is scrutinized. With the major developments in the college football coaching industry, I did want to quickly weigh in with my thoughts.
I really believed Steve Sarkisian’s August incident was an isolated episode. I bought the explanation that he had a rough day and mixed his prescription drugs with alcohol. I forgave him. Even as a Washington State Cougar fan I wanted the former Washington coach to succeed with the Trojans. It seemed like this was his year and perhaps he would use the late summer embarrassment to fuel him and his team to the College Football Playoffs.
When I heard news about his Sunday appearance at team facilities I was taken aback. Like I said, I counted the previous situation as an isolated incident. But as the reports started to come in about other recent drunken episodes, including coaching the game against Arizona State while intoxicated, it became very clear that Coach Sark has a serious problem. Watching his status go from “taking a leave of absence” to “terminated” was tough to watch. I can’t imagine the additional stories of Sark escapades that will surely be leaked over the next several weeks. He had it all and blew it. Like I said, I take no joy at all in his fall from grace and I hope he gets well.
But who I want to recognize are the USC parents. I can’t believe how positive and supportive they have been during this ordeal. They want what is best for their kids, for the program, and for Sarkisian. Having watched parents of inferior athletes at lower levels whine and cry about much more trivial things, I take my hat off to these moms and dads who are trying to help everyone move forward. Well done.
I was completely shocked last night with the Steve Spurrier resignation news. I took to Twitter to voice that his decision to quit halfway through the season was much more surprising to me than the Steve Sarkisian implosion.
I have only lived in South Carolina for 17 months but I definitely knew that this was Steve Spurrier’s state. There was just that feel that he was king. Since arriving here, I have read the Columbia newspaper, “The State”, quite regularly. For those readers not from around here, it contains great Gamecock coverage, meaning it had Steve Spurrier quotes pretty much on a daily basis, even during months such as February and March. I really started to seem to get to know Steve and his one-of-a-kind personality.
Like I said, I didn’t “get to know him” for that long but it seemed to me that one thing was clearly conveyed: he would never quit in the middle of a football season.
That is not a knock on Coach Spurrier at all. As I mentioned above, there are heavy pressures on college football head coaches that many of us will never experience. I am sure he was pushed to the absolute brink and needed to get away from the nightmare season. He is 70 for crying out loud. But because of his larger than life persona and fiery nature, I never thought he would stop coaching the University of South Carolina during the month of October. Just like with Sarkisian, I wanted to see him go out in a different way.
True to Steve Spurrier fashion, he said he was “resigning, not retiring.” I love it that he is leaving the door open. After taking some time off he could probably find a position on any football staff in the nation. Who knows about Sarkisian’s future…his football future that is. But of course, as every analyst and colleague has already rightfully said, that is not what matters now. I wish best of luck to both men as they spend time away from football. Don’t Blink.