Random Thoughts: On Div I Football, etc.

The NCAA has returned the old timing rules to pre 2005, and it seems that Div I football players are getting in trouble earlier and earlier in the off season. da Coach has a few ideas about what might be happening and a few more thoughts on the "Don Imus" flap.

Some good things - Some Bad things
So the NCAA turned back the clock on the clock changes. Good thing.

After all the 2nd youngest coach in the NCAA figured out how to beat the rules with a bunch of crazy penalties at the end of a game, a move that had Joe Paterno fuming because he couldn't get the ball and try a comeback.

Now teams like Northwestern will be able to try to come back when they're less than a TD down - and yes, I realize it will stress our defense at times, but isn't that what college football game is really about?
I used to call it "police blotter time."
It was that time between Spring Practice and Summer camp where players seemed to show up on police blotters for various silly violations of the law where they should have known better.

But now Police Blotter Time has spread to Spring Practice. Just check out U.S. News' College News Headlines -

In the Big 10, Purdue had a player stabbed outside a club, another was suspended for Public Intoxication. Minnesota has had 3 players land in jail on rape charges. Wisconsin also has a d-back in trouble altho the charges go back to last November.

Outside our conference, 2 LSU players have been suspended after being accused of a break in and credit theft. 5 Arkansas State players are in trouble for various offenses.

I don't want to minimize the seriousness of the issue, or even provide excuses for the players, but maybe the coaches of these teams - and their parents - are partially responsible for these kids acting up.

We coaches at every level put a lot of pressure on our kids to practice hard, learn plays, execute those plays and then see and adjust to changes by the other team.

Then, as you move up to the next level, there's the pressure of the increased speed and the kid behind you on the depth chart. Some kids have to blow off "steam" and you have to wonder if some of the illegal activity is related to that.

Last year I riled up the Hawkeye fans because a kid on their team was arrested for assault. Where I come from, assault is a serious charge, and all of these kids who have broken the law are also accused of some serious legal charges.

Even Northwestern has a young man on its team who sat out last season [he redshirted] because of what I understand was a high school prank. He ran afoul of the law in his home town and it was decided by the coaches that he should sit out the season while he got his legal issues resolved.

Minnesota is now questioning whether they should run background checks on prospects before they offer them scholarships. Scary stuff.

But before we throw these kids to the wolves, look at Florida's Percy Harvin - a kid who had come from Virginia Beach with all sorts of "baggage." He's now become a pretty vocal leader on the Gators, as the spring continues, he's taking on the added role of "outspoken upperclassman," and staying out of trouble.

Coaching kids today, at any level, is more difficult that it used to be. You look around and you don't see their mothers and fathers sitting together, often they have 2 of each. We used to be able to raise a 7 man coaching staff from the men at the first practice, now we have to get by with 2 or 3 because dad just isn't around anymore.

Some of my kids also miss practice, and even games, because mom and dad are in a struggle for control over the kid, and all it does is hurt the kid's improvement as a player and his self respect.

If I see one thing at Northwestern practices and games, its families. Go to the spring game, and see how many families show up under the "family tent" - something that I don't think is any different from any other Div I team.

But at all levels these kids carry much more around than simply being students and football players, they are very public representatives of their team and school.

I try to solve these problems by trying to turn our team into an extended family - something I actually learned from Randy Walker. During games and practices, my assistants and I try to be teachers and father figures. It usually works with most of the players.

Whenever I read about D-1 athletes going astray I wonder if those kids just haven't joined their team's family, and if they ever will.

Its too bad if they don't - the really successful teams seem to be extended families.
on Don Imus
OK, as a former broadcaster and morning guy, I recognized the need to get a laugh or two from the audience.

I'm someone who actually heard Imus' first show on then WNBC when he replaced Bill Cullen as the morning "talent." I thought he was somewhat clever, but I switched back to whatever station I woke up to at the time.

I heard him again in the 80's - I put him on a clock radio, listened to him for an hour, and didn't understand a word he said.

For the past few years I've watched his simulcast, usually by mistake, and found some of his parody stuff clever, but usually not funny. The main attraction of his show was the regular appearance by top North East political leaders.

He's used some of the language that got him fired before, I've heard it, but he remained a top rated jock in both New York and Washington, DC. I'm sure he was trying to make a "funny," but like many of his comments, all they do is create controversy.

Anyway, expect him on satellite radio in a few weeks. He won't even have to run commercials or worry about offending anyone. I just hope this incident doesn't revive the "un-fairness doctrine"
-- da Coach
[on the road in Ohio]

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