It’s all about the ‘W’ for some coaches

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2011

All the college bowl games taught me two things.

One, the SEC has six of the top 10 teams in the country.

Two, high school sports seem to be the last frontier of where a team’s win-loss record doesn’t determine everything about the coach.

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Sure, especially on the huge and profit-making stages of major college football and hoops, coaches have been getting fired over losing records for a long time. There’s an even more aggravating and hypocritical level now, though. Losing a job over a losing record is one thing. Having that losing record totally mask everything a coach did and stood for, or didn’t stand for, is another.

In the final seconds of Florida’s New Year’s Day win over Penn State the TV announcers praised everything about resigning Gator coach Urban Meyer.

They went on about his leadership, character and how he’s a great mentor for all the young men who’ve played for him.

According to the Orlando Sentinel as of Sept. 14, 2010 — and let’s also assume the last three months of Meyer’s tenure wasn’t squeaky clean all of the sudden — 30 Florida football players had been arrested in Meyer’s six seasons at UF.

Is Meyer a football genius? Yes. Should he be lauded for his wins and national titles? Yes. Is he a swell guy, a good husband and so on? I’m sure. Couldn’t it be left at all that?

Then Oregon loses the championship game on a last-second field goal, finishing 12-1 and runner-up (the undefeated TCU argument is another column by itself).

A few minutes later, a TV analyst said Oregon and head coach Chip Kelly need to “revamp” their offense because one or two goal line plays didn’t work.

It was about 1 a.m. and I didn’t have a notebook on me, so I didn’t get the exact quote but I was stunned, then laughed at, and clearly remember “revamp.”

Not “tweak” or “add” or “adjust” but “revamp” after the amazingly great season Oregon had. One more tackle, one more completion, one less penalty, one more block, one more play by a 19-year-old was effectively the margin between “national champion” and “revamp.”

John Wooden coached for 15 years at UCLA before winning his first national championship. The Bruins went 19-12 in his fourth year. Today, Wooden wouldn’t have lasted beyond that record. He went on to have records such as 16-10 and 14-12 before winning it all for the first time.

So three cheers for high school sports in general and specifically in Suffolk to Calvin Mason Sr. and Nansemond River, Daniel Waller and Lakeland and Sarah Whitfield and King’s Fork.

These coaches, each with long tenures at their schools, some of that time even coaching JV teams or coaching other sports, are proof there’s still importance in mentoring and teaching in coaching, while not losing one drop of competitiveness.