While driving into work this morning, I was listening to “Mike & Mike in the morning” on ESPNRadio. I am a huge sports fan, so this is what I am always listening to in the mornings. Today, Mike and Mike had Kirk Herbstreit on as a guest to talk about the up coming college football showdowns. Kirk Herbstreit is always so good. However, Herbstreit analysis about Jim Tressel was completely wrong.
In the interview, Mike and Mike, let Herby listen to an interview that the NCAA and Tressel had in regards to all of the NCAA violations that occurred while Tressel was coaching at Ohio St. This was not the big deal though. Herby went on to say that he thought that this was the most difficult things that college coaches deal with; how to follow the rules, and how to help the “kids” that they are coaching. Herby suggested that coaches had to go into parents homes and essentially sell the parents on the fact that, he (the coach) would be the parent for the student while at school. And because of this, when a student messed up, coaches have a tendency to have a problem deciding whether to follow the rules of the NCAA or “help” the student and build trust with them.
There is an obvious problem here with Herby’s logic. First and foremost, if any parent buys the fact that a coach is going to be a parent to their kid while as school then they are crazy. There are roughly 125 players that make up a team. 66 for the depth chart. How can one coach be a parent to all of those guys?
Second is the suggestion if a coach finds out that a student broke a NCAA rule then the coach doesn’t want to tell the appropriate people because he doesn’t want to break the players trust. That is ridiculous. If you really buy into the parent idea for the coach then the coach should act like a parent and tell the player that there are consequences for their actions and that they will be there with them to help them through those consequences. When a coach doesn’t report a player’s infractions, all the coach is doing is telling all of the other players that they will be protected if they do something wrong. Herby mistakes a fraternity for trust. Trust comes through consistent character, not buddies that help keep things in the closet.
If coaches really want to help players, then they make them aware of the rules that are in place and make sure they know that as a coach his/her responsibility is to play within these rules. A coach can build trust this way. When they consistently act on the knowledge they have, they can help the players get through suspensions, and help them not make future mistakes as well. The NCAA doesn’t expect perfection from players, but they expect responsibility of those in charge to develop student athletes towards character.