College coaches will tell you they’re in the business of building quality young men. They will tell you that they are educators and life coaches, more than they are simple gridiron conductors.
In reality, they’re in the business of making millions of dollars to win football games. If some troubled youths are aided along the way, all the better, but that’s most certainly not why coaches are hired to lead programs.
Someone alert me when you hear an athletic director say, “Well, we know Joe has a record of 10-60, but we like the way he rehabilitates kids with bad backgrounds.”
The “helping kids” mantra is pure spin. It’s said whenever a coach gives a player a second, third or fourth chance. Sure, coaches enjoy seeing guys turn their lives around. But that doesn’t explain why starters, star quarterbacks, leading rushers and tacklers get more chances at redemption than backups and walk-ons. I think we can all do that math on that front.
So perhaps it’s time for coaches — and the schools that employ them — to be made to take responsibility for the illegal actions their repeat offenders take.
Yesterday, LSU’s leading returning rusher, Jeremy Hill, was pretty much given a pass by a Louisiana judge. This despite the fact that he’d pled guilty to a violent crime while on probation for a previous crime. In high school, Hill reportedly intimidated a 14-year-old girl into having sexual relations with him. He pled guilty to misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile for that act. This April, he sucker-punched a young man outside a Baton Rouge bar. The blow to the back of the head dropped the victim. Hill and a pal celebrated over him. It was caught on cell phone video.
(One must wonder if Les Miles will have the LSU video department edit that clip into next year’s recruiting tape. It could be part of a section dedicated to how the Tigers’ coach tries to help young men become better citizens. Former quarterback Jordan Jefferson could be featured. He was suspended by the school, not the coach, when he was involved in a bar fight in 2011. There’s video of that one, too. For the trifecta, perhaps Tyrann Mathieu could discuss how many drug tests he failed — and how many chances Miles gave him — before he was finally tossed from the school last year.)
Miles said after the court’s decision yesterday that further punishment of Hill — who’s now been reinstated to the team — will be internal. The coach stated: “The reality is we all see him around here as a pretty good person.”
I wonder if the girl from Hill’s high school or the man Hill suckerpunched view him as “a pretty good person.”
This isn’t just to pick on Miles (though he deserves whatever is thrown his way on this topic). He’s hardly the first coach to give multiple chances to kids guilty of violent crimes. And LSU’s is not the only administration to give its coach the right to hand out dozens of “get out of jail free” cards.
Imagine, then, if there was some type of rule in place that would financially bind the actions of a once-guilty player to his coach and to his school.
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