All I ever thought about was one thing: Water.
At the time, the coaching philosophy was to deny water, except for an occasional mercy break. When the head coach finally yelled, “Water break!” after long periods of exertion, we all ran to a garden hose attached to the back of the school. Believe me, there’s nothing like a cool drink of water to prevent dehydration and death.
I bring this up to illustrate how much football has evolved. Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was suspended, then fired, after being accused by a player who suffered from a concussion of making him stand in a shed during football practice. Notice the edict did not say, “Stand in the shed and don’t drink any water!”
My, how far we’ve come as a society.
It’s important to note that Leach is denying the allegations made against him by receiver Adam James and sought a temporary restraining order that would allow him to coach in the Jan. 2 bowl game. Leach claimed he “would never intentionally harm or endanger a player,” and until this is all resolved, it’s important that the man be given the benefit of the doubt. A man is innocent until proven guilty. That even applies to coaches.
But this comes after the Mark Mangino brouhaha, in which the enormous former head coach at Kansas apparently grew tired of abusing his body and allegedly abused players; he and the school reached a settlement and parted ways. There was also a recent report that Jim Leavitt, the head coach at the University of South Florida, grabbed sophomore walk-on Joel Miller by the throat and hit him twice in the face during halftime of a Nov. 21 game against Louisville; Leavitt vehemently denied the charge.
And who knows what other evil lurks in the hearts of football coaches. There are 119 programs in the NCAA Bowl Subdivision (formerly Div. I-A), more in the lower divisions, and then there are the high schools. Surely there must be a few guys with whistles out there who included a brutal dictator or two among their role models while coming up through the ranks. I’m sure there is a lot we don’t hear about.
What’s surprising whenever these incidents arise is how offending coaches could possibly have failed to get the memo. In an era in which information about such ugly incidents travels instantaneously, and litigation is so rampant that schools will come down hard on mere suspicions without waiting for due process, why would any coach take a chance on striking a player or putting him through a situation deemed even mildly abusive?
If the reports about the alleged abuses carried out by Leach, Mangino and Leavitt are true, they’re mind-boggling given the prevailing sensibilities of 2009. What would be even harder to grasp is how any coach from now on could fail to heed the warning.
About 325 former Penn State players, among them Kerry Collins and Paul Posluszny, have signed a statement supporting the lawsuit filed by the family of former coach Joe Paterno.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
The Hype: How early is too early for sports scholarships?
There's a disturbing trend afoot in college football -- the offering of scholarships to middle school students. Despite never playing a down of high school football, Lindell Stone, an eighth-grader who already has an offer from UCLA, is the latest hot commodity. Michelle Beadle and Carolyn Manno discuss the absurdity of this trend and consider the possibility of scholarships for embryos
BCS title game
Pregame color, key plays and other moments from 'Bama's blowout win.
Check out the action from the postseason.
Check out which players were best of the best at each position.
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.