Is Coaching Bad For Your Health?
Urban Meyer just stepped down at the University of Florida because he wanted to spend more time with his family. Last year he took a leave of absence to spend time with his family, but there was also the issue of his health.
He had a scare with his heart and many people questioned whether it would be smart to keep coaching when he flip-flopped and went back to the sidelines for this season. Was that a smart choice?
We know that coaching is hard and the higher you get the harder it gets. But, is it so bad that a 46-year old man has to step away because he’s that burnt out? When did 46 become “old?”
Coaching Got Crazy
Back in the day Steve Spurrier was able to go to Duke, put his cutting-edge offense, and win an ACC title. At DUKE!!! Duke, people. He won an ACC title at Duke, but Spurrier was known to work less than most coaches.
He didn’t keep himself and his assistants in the office at all hours. He had dinner with his family. He played golf. He enjoyed life. That worked for a while and when he was winning at Florida everyone else in college football had to catch up.
How do you do that? You work harder. You sleep in your office. You study film day and night. You never see the leaves change on the trees. You work your fingers to the bone.
So, on one hand Steve Spurrier was the model of a coach who isn’t killing himself at work. However, he’s also the reason a lot of coaches started sleeping in their offices.
Granted, some guys were nutso workaholics before Spurrier, but some guys had to catch up to him. Imagine being an ex-assistant of Spurrier’s. You get hired somewhere and you don’t know how to measure up so you work like crazy to measure up.
I’m not saying it’s all Steve’s fault, but I can see how he might have started something.
There’s Always Pressure
At the same time that you’re trying to win games you are deathly afraid of getting fired in today’s game. Coaches come and go like Kleenex because everyone wants to win right now.
No one gets a grace period and there’s no slack given to head coaches. Add to that the fact that you’re responsible for a bunch of assistants who also have families and the stress could be unbearable.
I wouldn’t want to suck and cause my friends (my assistants) to get fired too. Then there’s the possibility of the administration liking you and asking you to fire an assistant. Who wants to deal with that?
Am I saying that this is the only profession where people work under pressure? No, but these guys are under the spotlight, and I can see how hard it can be. You may work under pressure at your job, but how often can you draw the ire of an entire state based on your work habits?
No one deserves that kind of pressure even if they do makes millions of dollars to coach. When you think about it the expectations heaped on college coaches are ridiculous. College fan bases are ridiculous. In fact, everyone in college football is nuts.
I’m just saying.
Why Urban Really Quit
I can’t confirm this, but this is my gut feeling. Urban Meyer had a “come to Jesus” moment.
He went back to work and when the Gators weren’t playing particularly well he looked around and said to himself, “What the %&$^$*# am I doing? I could be at home right now, and here I have to deal with this?”
He made up his mind long ago, but he couldn’t announce anything until after the season. And it’s not just about a 7-5 record, it’s about the rigors of coaching that he knew were becoming too much to bear.
He knew that coaching was bad for him, bad for his family, and he had a ton of money. He knew he could sit at home and do nothing and be fully content. He knew it and he had to have a bad season to see it.
That means that John Brantley should receive partial credit for forcing Meyer to retire. If Brantley had stepped in and taken over the spread offense and become “Tebow Jr.” Meyer may not have seen the light.
Instead, Brantley came in, looked slow, was inaccurate, and the Gators couldn’t score to save their lives. He contrasted perfectly with Cam Newton at Auburn. Remember, Newton used to be at Florida and everyone could compare. We had that guy and now we have this guy.
Then everyone had to watch Cam Newton waltz to the national title game, lock up the Heisman trophy, become the most electric athlete in sports, AND win the SEC that Florida had dominated for since Meyer’s arrival. That hurts.
Imagine being Urban Meyer. If it were me I would’ve thought, a la Roger Murtaugh, “I’m too old for this shit!”
Can Good Come Of This?
I don’t particularly care for Meyer or Florida, but I do respect his decision. Hopefully some coaches in college and pro sports — hell, even in high school sports — will look at Meyer and think, “What am I doing?”
There might be a slow down in productivity in athletic coaching and families would be happier. Wouldn’t that be a great day for us all?
It won’t happen. Most knucklehead coaches are thinking, “Urban’s a softie. I could lost as long as Joe Paterno if I wanted to. Make ME the coach at Florida.” Yep, the “kill or be killed” mentality.
Coaches will work harder hoping that they can become Urban Meyer. ”Yeah, I’ll work my ass off and when I’m 46 I’ll be a millionaire and retire.” It doesn’t work that way.
When you have Tim Tebow and Chris Leak fall in your lap, get the job at Florida, win two titles in three years, and revolutionize the offensive game in college football just let me know. I won’t hold my breath.