There are many reasons why we love college sports. First, for the purity of the competition—student-athletes are fully-vested in their alma mater. The kids do not have egos; they do not play for lucrative contracts, but for the love of school pride. When student-athletes perform, their emotions are raw, uncut, and genuine; it is not pretentious nor beguile—I cannot say the same about college coaches. The latest breaking headline in the college coaching carousal reads “Chip Kelly does an about-face, leaves Oregon for the NFL’s Eagles.” Here we go again, another high profile college coach literally looked his players in their eyes, gave them his word that he would not leave, only to jump ship for greener pastures a few days later.
This seems to be the new trend among college coaches who are not allowed to enjoy a single winning season with their players or programs after a success year before they are lured away by lucrative contracts and bigger programs.
In the latest sports headline, the University of Oregon Head Football Coach Chip Kelly is now the newest member of the fraternity “I’m gonna give the infamous I’m staying speech but leave a few days later.” It was Just 10 days ago when Kelly called the Athletic Director (AD) at Oregon and told him he was not leaving the university. The AD was happy with the news that he was quoted as telling the Oregonian "Obviously, we're ecstatic that Coach Kelly decided to remain at the University of Oregon." Had Chip Kelly left to take the Coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles right after the Fiesta Bowl instead of 10 days after deciding he was staying in Eugene, his about-face decision on Tuesday would not have been such a big surprise. To add insult to injury, the AD and University of Oregon had to find out about Kelly’s hiring by the Eagles on ESPN.
Less than a month ago, after taking Utah State University (my alma mater) to, and winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl while boasting the best winning record in school history, Head Football Coach Gary Anderson left to take the job at the University of Wisconsin. This came after Anderson gave his players his word that he was not leaving Utah State saying "At the end of the day, Logan [Utah] is where we need to be," ... "The kids, the administration — we had too much momentum going for me to leave." Nineteen days later, Gary Anderson left for Wisconsin.
We saw the same thing in 2010, when Pete Carroll left the University of Southern California (USC) to take the coaching job in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. (In Carroll’s defense, the writing was already on the wall—he was about to get hit with a slew of NCAA sanctions had he stayed at the college ranks so he did the right thing and bolted for Seattle. Besides, I’m not gonna lie, Pete Carroll is my guy and even if he was guilty, I will defend him to the end).
Who can forget the Infamous Roy Williams, Head Basketball Coach at the University of Kansas (KU)—he left to coach at the University of North Carolina (UNC) only one week after KU loss the National Championship game to Syracuse University in 2003. Roy Williams not only lied to his players at KU, the AD, and the media, but he also lied to the student body watching on a JumboTron when he gave his famous “I’m staying” speech.” What made his leaving so significant, was earlier in the season his All-American Forward Wayne Simien opted out of should surgery vowing to take the Jayhawks to the National Championship on one shoulder which he did; he had his Coach sit next to him at the post-game conference at the end of the Championship game, blew-up on a report and made it publicly known he was staying at Kansas, only to bolt for the UNC job one week later. When asked about how he felt that Roy Williams left to coach at North Carolina, the infamous Wayne Simien quote “I [literally] gave that man my right shoulder” is still a big sound bite today.
The irony of it is, these coaches don’t understand why they are labeled as traitors, nor do they understand why the players they left behind felt betrayed and angry. They don’t understand why there is strong resentment and hatred from fans and boosters of the alma mater where they previously coached.
They feel the world is against them and instead of hatred, everyone should be happy for the decisions they made. What they need to understand is this—you made the choice to leave; now you have to live with the consequences of your decisions, whether its resentment or being labeled as a traitor.
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