Second Chances

Jack-Squat (jak skwaht)

noun

1 the extent of what I know, and care, about college football.

also ZILCH, NADA

However, this aside, I feel since everyone else (at least, seemingly everyone in my sphere of acquaintances) has weighed in on the return of Bobby Petrino to the University of Louisville football program, I have set aside what little quiet, personal time I have to give my two cents. Beware, you may get a full nickel on this one!

To start, Charlie Strong was, and is, an outstanding football coach. The University of Texas (recent comments from ignorant boosters aside) is smart and lucky to have hired him. I have no doubt that he will shine in what he perceives to be “the grand stage” for college football. To my mind, his hiring and tenure at the University of Louisville was the creation of a grand stage for college football here in our fair city. He rescued the football program from a catastrophic downward spiral (created in part by our new acquisition Bobby Petrino, in my opinion) and set the course for the university in a sport that will always come behind basketball in this state. I believe that the way it was handled was inappropriate and mildly underhanded, but ethics don’t seem to play a part in collegiate sports, as I will get to in a moment.

When Bobby Petrino snuck out of town the last time (a mere seven years ago), I made no secret of my feelings regarding his decision and the handling thereof. Since then, he has flirted with Atlanta (less than a year) in the NFL, worked in Arkansas (and been subsequently released for some extracurricular shenanigans), and most recently has been recovering from his personal embarrassments as head coach of WKU. Not exactly what you’d call a stellar resume, but as I said, ethics don’t seem to play a part in collegiate sports.

Which all leads me to the point of this tirade. College sports is a business and coaches are in it for the money. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded and has their head deeply buried, either in the sand or other places the sun doesn’t shine. This is not news. This has been going on for decades. Why do you think bowl games are labeled with corporate emblems? Why do you think coaches “contract hop” for a better deal? Why do you think universities desire to have the biggest, brightest, most alumni-luring venues? Because of the money. And, as someone who doesn’t have a ton of what they crave, I see their point.

However, (and maybe my rose-colored socialist glasses should be repaired) I believe that a university whose primary function is the education of individuals should insist on hiring people whose ethics and integrity are at the very least on par with what they expect from their student-athletes, emphasis on the student! If we’re asking our student population to engage in an academic setting and become productive members of society, then we should employ role models who can emulate that. Bobby Petrino has not displayed, in any manner, that he is capable of anything other than winning football games, which is great if that’s all you want to teach these children (and let’s not forget that while they’re old enough to vote, they are still very much children). But, let’s suppose we want them to be outstanding individuals who can carry themselves with dignity in society and be examples to future generations of college students through their status as alumni. Shouldn’t we hire people who emulate those values?

There will be those among us who claim he deserves a second chance. And, certainly, I believe that everyone deserves second chances. However, Bobby Petrino has repeatedly given his second chances a swift kick to the posterior, to the point that even biblical scholars are saying “are we at the 70 times 7 forgiveness limit yet?” Were there simply zero other candidates available who could be valuable assets and lead the program to great heights and continue the work of coaches that got us to this point? Is the pool of football coaches so tiny that we need to recycle one that basically smiled out of one side of his face, and spit on us out of the other?

As I said at the beginning, I don’t know much about college football. And, to be honest, I probably care even less. However, I am concerned that the world has given over its integrity and ethics to the almighty dollar. I’m all for forgiveness, but at what cost?

See you in the funny papers!