“Well there’s a rose in the fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love honey
Love the one you’re with, Love the one you’re with.” — Stephen Stills
Today we take a gentler path into the world of sports. This used to be a sports blog (evidenced by its name). However, I think sports offer a metaphor for life, so I’m guessing many of you will see immediate parallels with current events. The connection is only somewhat intentional.
The Jacksonville Jaguars fired their coach last night. He lasted all of 13 games. There have been numerous coaches that have only lasted one season. We can poke fun at them all we want, but I always take a step back here. I was a 5A Varsity volleyball coach for one season. In that case, I decided it was best to take a step back.
Urban Meyer is the first coach in my lifetime to get fired before the end of his first season. Maybe it has happened before. Bobby Petrino famously quit before his first season was up so he could return to college. So, maybe that will have to do. The Houston Texans might be in the midst of a one and done season as well. Football fans will have to judge for themselves I suppose.
Deciding on the worst hiring is always subjective. I imagine I could levy insults, but it’s the holidays and I want to be nice. So, I’ll chronicle my own experience instead and hopefully draw some parallels. Suffice it to say, I judge based on the available information at the time.
I wasn’t exactly Ted Lasso. My sister still coaches and I coached a few years at the freshman level. I coached for a few seasons as the club level. I even served as a successful varsity and junior varsity coach at a Catholic school. Making the jump to varsity at a 5A (now 6A competition) seemed like a logical leap. I had turned around the fortunes at the Catholic school, so maybe I could do it for the next school.
What I quickly learned is that everyone has a level of coaching/teaching where they are most comfortable and a best fit. As a coach, I was a good teacher. I could teach kids the basics successfully and those kids showed real growth. That made me a better fit for younger players. After my one season of one win volleyball, I took over as junior varsity coach and had a much more successful season.
That brings us to our combined stories of the day. Urban Meyer has been fired and David Culley feels like dead coach walking. Meyer is 187-32 at the college level. I doubt he ever coaches again after this, but you could have easily envisioned him taking another job after Ohio State at say USC or LSU and being highly successful. That’s only if he hadn’t decided to go to the NFL.
Culley had never been a coordinator in the NFL. Sometimes you get young guys that you just know will be great head coaches some day and jump the gun a little too soon. Culley is 66. If it hadn’t happened then it wasn’t going to happen. I know his position units often struggled, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was a really good position coach.
Culley was the worse hire in my opinion. If you just listened to him for five minutes you’d have figured out he was going to be way over his head. His press conferences seem like a cross between the aforementioned Lasso and Don Knotts from the Andy Griffith show. 99.9 percent of the Texans fan base knew it wasn’t going to work. The 0.1 percent is the part that hired him.
Yet, I think most people have had a job where they were a fish out of water. I’ve had more than one. You discover it pretty early on and you get to a point where you just want to bail. Who knows if that is where Culley is. In that regard I kind of feel sorry for him. I’ve been there and I know how overwhelming it is. Of course, I never had any job with the kind of checks he’s getting. So, that sympathy only goes so far. Besides, we are all responsible for our own choices. They offered the job. It doesn’t mean he had to accept.