In a larger context, I think it does matter; it shows a degenerating lack of respect between athletes, fans and coaches. I cannot begin to trace this back to its roots because the roots of this seeming disdain between fans and athletes are as deep as sports themselves. Sometimes it is about the individual and sometimes it is about something far worse.
Today, though, I talked in Flock Talk about the impact on just the game itself; as in the team. I saw FootballScoop.com pose the question and felt that Flock Talk was the best venue in which I could share my thoughts.
In general, I don't share my 'premium' content on my free site, but this really is just an opinion piece and is not the premium content so felt that it was worth sharing today. So, below is what I had to say in Flock Talk today.
The world of college football seems to get odder by the day. During the course of the 2017 season, Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield was suspended for some of his actions, ridiculed for taunting fans and then given the most prestigious honor in college football.
This week we got to watch a coach – Tom Herman – mock an opposing player following the Texas victory over Missouri. It’s not the end of the world and his players seemed to love the apparent genuine display of emotion.
The issue, of course, is the example he set. When Herman goes into the living rooms of mothers and fathers and promises to teach their sons how to be men, can he honestly say that he is setting the example in how to act? Very few of us in ‘the real world’ would have any credibility were we to mock a co-worker so willfully, and yet commentators seemed comfortable enough to almost laud his ‘genuine’ reaction.
We are not here to set the moral standards for coaches; all coaches have those things that they do to get their players to see them not just as an authoritarian, but as someone for whom they are willing to sacrifice their blood, sweat and tears. On gameday, it is the blood, sweat and tears of the players which creates the legends and failures of coaches.
This past season, players at Oregon loved their head coach – and yet were the most penalized team in the nation averaging over 88 yards per game on nearly 10 penalties; the appeal of the coach did nothing for their discipline on the field. This is where the fine line is drawn by antics like those Herman put on display; what will his antics do to improve discipline with his team? When they get a fifteen-yard penalty for mocking or taunting a player, how can Tom Herman rightfully look a player in the eye and discipline them for doing exactly what he did?
This is the litmus test for the future of his program – but it is also a test for the rest of the country. How do other coaches respond? The Missouri player shook it off with some class; ‘that means he knows who I am’ said the Missouri quarterback. That was about as good a response as you could hope to see from a player. Texas was not much better in penalties than Oregon – ranking 111th to Oregon’s 129th; it sounds like both could learn some things from P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota squad – the least penalized team in the nation.
Energy and enthusiasm are a good thing for young coaches; but that enthusiasm needs to be tempered with some form of on-field discipline to create the right mix of excitement and disciplined play.