After this last weekend’s events I have had some time to really ponder what it means to be a college coach. As we all know, the college football world was thrust into a tail spin with Florida head football coach Urban Meyer deciding to call it quits. Then, fewer than 24 hours later, in an official press conference he back pedaled and decided to merely take a leave of absence. In both potential scenarios, this decision has created much emotional turmoil and posed many unanswered questions amongst those dedicated to Florida. Now I am not going to speculate on the rationale of coach Meyer’s decision to take the leave of absence. Rather, what I do want to focus on is the cost of being a head coach.
I will be the first to admit that I am no expert at the art of coaching nor will I ever lead a team through the tunnel into a stadium full of 90,000 fans. I do know the stress that comes from being a husband, a father, a professional, and a human being, amongst the many other hats that I wear. At the same time, I understand that in any profession it takes a particular individual with a specific skill set to successfully do whatever line of work is chosen. All focused and dedicated people have talents and traits that make them and good at what they do. And it is hard for me to imagine that a college football head coach has more stress than an emergency room doctor, city fire fighter or even a school administrator. I do agree that today’s coaches are subject to that proverbial microscope and that they are held to a particularly high standard. They hold very public positions and they answer to a lot of people. But don’t many other professionals deal with a lot of the same pressure? I guess I don’t see the abundant stress coming from being the leader of a large organized game with highly skilled players compared to the job of someone like Ben Bernanke right now. I know, I know, apples to oranges, right? I guess that it is just a little difficult to look at a coach like Pete Carol and wonder if the job of head coach is that stressful.
So what I have discovered is that like any profession there are those who are good but can’t handle the stress of certain parts of the job. It is hard to say whether Meyer is coping with the emotion of the game, or the pressure to perform from the school or fans. Maybe he is struggling to leave work at work and not bring it home to his family. Or maybe personal issues are finding their way to work. But there I go speculating when I said that I wouldn’t.
The bottom line is that I think that he just isn’t built to be a college football coach. I realize that some may say that that is a bold statement. But keep in mind that I did not say that Meyer is not a good coach or even that he is not going to be successful as a coach. I just think that he may not be built to be a coach. I would assume that in order to handle the job well, a person must have thick skin, a determined personality, and the ability to keep a level head when facing the variety of challenges in life. Meyer may just not be able to do that right now.
I just hope that from this experience other college coaches can reevaluate their own lives in order to keep them balanced so that they can stay on the field. It must take a special person to do what some of those old coaches have done to last as long as they have over the years. Meyer better figure out what he needs to do or he might find himself sitting on the sidelines, wondering what went wrong.