The Times, They Are A’Changin’!!

So if you’ve followed this blog at all (and you probably haven’t) I’ve written about change and transition A LOT. It’s a huge part of the whole coaching lifestyle. Well, that call finally came for us. But not in any way close to how I imagined it coming. A couple of months ago, in the midst of what I can describe only as smack dab in the middle of the darkest period in my adult life, I was shuttling our 2 girls to a gymnastics meet 5 hours away, solo. I was solo because our family had suffered the unimaginable loss of my husband’s 27 year old cousin, suddenly and without much warning. While we were reeling, the competitive gymnastics season trucked on and so did we. He stayed behind for the service and visitation and the girls and I tearfully and reluctantly left town.

I wasn’t 2 hours away when he called with news that we had been waiting for….we had a new opportunity. And not a coaching opportunity either. Something that would keep him not only in the same state, but the same town! All the time! And he wouldn’t have to travel, save for a weekend here, a week or so there, maybe 3 times a year. No more late nights at the office, no more juggling soccer and gymnastics with recruiting trips, pregame meals and last minute emergencies at the field. No more missing entire weekends of activities because the team is in another country.

No more tailgating…no more wives outings…no more sisterhood…no more bear hugs from linemen who are dripping in sweat and bleeding from some unseen gash in their heads but don’t feel a thing…no more hearing, “Hi mama!” from 80 boys on a daily basis…with one decision, everything we’ve ever known as a family was turned on it’s head. At first I wanted so badly to tell him to say no. We made it through this long, we can make it work again. Then I thought of the 6 children under the age of 13 whose fathers or mothers I have buried in the last 6 months and I instantly knew what we had to do. So The Decision was made, he accepted, we hung up the clipboard and whistle and we’re in the mad dash of moving.

I’ve written a ton of blogs about purging, organizing, getting your ish in check for a move. Guess what? I didn’t listen to a damn thing I wrote. Not. A. Thing. 7 trips to the dump, countless garbage bags and many, MANY late nights later, my house is getting there. We have a showing on Thursday and don’t EVEN get me started about how much THAT stresses me out, so I’m down to crunch time. Laundry has been done, down to the last sock, the only rooms I have left that need some serious work are the kitchen and my youngest daughter’s room. Both of which are small and pretty easy. Then I just need to run a quick vacuum and broom over things and breathe. Riiiiight.

In the meantime, we have nowhere to live in our new town (which is 400 miles and 6 hours away), I don’t have a job yet and my husband leaves in exactly 13 days. No big. I always told myself our first move was going to be so exciting and an adventure and the best times in our lives. HA! Have I MET me?! Have I seen how insane I get when things are out of my control? I’m funny.

The last wrinkle of all of this is the good byes. Last night I saw the staff and wives for the first time since we made The Decision. It was easier than I thought it would be, but coaches wives are a special group. We (yes, I still consider myself a coaches wife even though technically I’m not one anymore) are used to transition and moves. We know goodbye is inevitable and it’s part of the game. So there were hugs and “I’ll miss you’s” and “we’ll have dinner before you go!” This week I’m meeting with another group of ladies who I’ve grown close to over the years and next week I put on my last seminar here.

While the good byes are hard, I’m so excited for the next chapter. Being able to have time as a family has been an amazing experience and while I wouldn’t trade the last 6 years of our lives for anything on this Earth, I can’t wait to go to a college game this fall, as a family. ❤

The Case for Honesty

A story has come out in the past day or so that can serve as a good reminder for anybody in any profession: Don’t lie on you resume. For those who have a life and don’t eat, sleep and drink sports, you can find the story of college basketball coach Steve Masiello here. Now, it’s important to note that we don’t have Coach Masiello’s side of the story yet, so I hate to drag a good man’s name through the mud. However, the facts in this instance seem fairly cut and dry. The obvious questions, of course, is why? Why would a coach need or want to lie on his resume? I can tell you why; coaching is a TOUGH gig. It’s cutthroat, it’s stressful and it is absolutely next man up. If you can’t handle the job, if you don’t exactly fill the needs of the position, there are 5 more guys waiting for it. I can see a few scenarios here. The most obvious being he really wanted a job at Louisville under Coach Rick Petino and said he graduated to make his resume look better. Is it wrong? Of course. Can I see exactly why he did it? Yup. Coach Masiello had played for Coach Petino and let’s face it, Petino can coach. If you want to go places, you find the Petino’s, the coach K’s, and the Callipari’s of the basketball world and you learn everything you can from them. It worked too, because Coach Masiello is 60-39 after 3 years as head coach at Manhattan and even got the virtually unknown team into the NCAA Tournament this year. Of course, this is all speculation. The case can also be made that Manhattan should have checked his credentials a little closer and this would have all been avoided.

Obviously, this is a problem for Steve Masiello. It’s yet to be determined if Manhattan is going to take him back. Heck, he might not even qualify for the job he’s held since 2011 anymore! He already said good bye to his players and packed his things. He would have to face the players, their families, the administration and his fans, all of whom probably wonder how much they can trust Coach now that this has come to light. How can a coach tell his players to live with honesty, integrity and do the right thing when it looks at this moment like he has done anything but for the last almost decade. By all accounts, he is a great coach. He’s learned under some of the best. It would be a shame to see such a bright future to come to such an ending. I have no doubt that whatever his motivation was for lying on his resume, Coach Masiello doesn’t think it was worth it today. This is a good lesson for everyone. Most of us won’t fall from grace as publicly as Steve Masiello, but the lesson is the same. Just be honest. If you’re honest, you don’t have to keep track of your lies. 

March Madness

I was planning on making this blog all about Spring Football practices and all the fun that goes with it. The warmer weather, longer days, spending time outside, some Spring Game tailgating tips, etc. Then our football team spent morning workouts outside in the snow and that kind of dampened my spirits. As I type this, there is a Dodge Challenger trying to get up the hill out my window. It’s not going well for him. The sad part is the snow is only now starting to stick and this hill isn’t THAT steep. Good luck, friend! 🙂 

So, back to the post. Since it’s decidedly NOT spring football weather outside today, I thought I would change it up. Another passion in our house is the NCAA Basketball Tournament, known as March Madness by most. This year has been particularly brutal if you’re a high seed. I’m sure if you follow the tournament or tried your luck at winning a billion dollars from Mr. Buffett, you know how this tournament is unfolding. Madness doesn’t come close to describing what’s going on. Ratings are through the roof, profits for the tournament are up and money is rolling in. As I was watching Duke lose to Mercer on Friday (know where Mercer is? I didn’t. I had to look it up. The Mercer Bears hail from Macon, Georgia. The more you know….) someone who was also watching the end of the game made a comment. He said, “It’s tough to remember that these are kids.” It was an offhand, almost afterthought comment but it gave me pause. We have this discussion during football season about a half dozen times a season. Especially when the major football conferences head toward post season play. People are shocked when this defensive back or that guard gets arrested for something stupid, or gets suspended for a half for a violation of team rules. These kids are just that….KIDS. They usually come to school at 18, some of them have never been away from home and now you’re thrusting them into (in the case of a major DI program) a HUGE spotlight and expecting them to never screw up. That pressure is unimaginable. Most people I know couldn’t handle it, myself included. If I had lived my life under a microscope and had people dissecting every bad decision I made at 18….well, let’s just say they would have had plenty to talk about!! Whether it’s basketball, football or some other sport, these are children. Legally, they’re adults, but they are really only big children. Some of them grow up fast. Can you imagine playing for an NCAA Championship at 21, having thousands of fans screaming for or at you, jugging practice and classes, being known everywhere you go, being criticized for every mistake you make? Wow. No thank you. I get annoyed when I’m stopping at the store for milk and someone asks me how the team looks if I’m in a hurry, there is no way I could handle what these kids do. 

So what is the Madness in all of this? The heart pounding finishes, the buzzer beaters, the last second put backs, watching the post game victory dances or the fact that we are entrusting a multi-billion dollar industry to a bunch of teenage kids who, to this point, have basically made one major life decision. They know (or should) what they’re getting into, I get that argument. They shouldn’t sign with the Kentuckys and Dukes of the world if they aren’t ready for the pressure, I get that too. But let’s not forget as we watch the Madness unfold, for every jubilant locker room and charged fan base, there are tears being shed and jerseys being put away for the final time by a 4th year senior whose one goal in life was to play college basketball. He’s putting that dream to bed for the final time today and entering the “real world” with the rest of us. And yes, he’s still, more or less, just a kid. 

Show Me The Money

No, Cuba Gooding, Jr. isn’t guest blogging today, sadly. But this famous phrase, uttered by Gooding in the hit sports movie Jerry Maguire, is a great lead in to a hot topic surrounding college football today: paying players.

If you’re even a casual fan of college football, you’ve heard of Johnny Manziel, otherwise known as Johnny Football. For those unfamiliar, Johnny Manziel is a sophomore quarterback for the Texas A&M Aggies football team. He tore the college football landscape apart last year with his brilliant play and was the first freshman in history to win the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious award a college football player can earn.

Since winning the award, Johnny has been in the media for the things he has been up to in the off-season. Most recently, and most worrisome for A&M fans, is a video that was leaked showing Johnny Football signing autographs. The video was shot by an autograph dealer and he claimed to have paid the college sophomore for his services. This is a direct violation of the NCAA rules. A player cannot be paid for his performance, likeness or signature. Period. That is NOT a grey rule like so many other NCAA rules, it is black and white. If A&M plays him and he is found to have violated that rule, the team will forfeit any game he played in. Obviously, that’s a huge concern for the school.

On the heels of the Manziel controversy is a lawsuit by former players against the NCAA for making money off of their likeness in the EA Sports NCAA games. If successful, it could pave the way for change concerning how the NCAA compensates its players.

Currently, the NCAA “compensates” its players by providing a free education to Division I players. For most of them, that’s huge. For players like Johnny Football, they’re not there for the education. They’re playing strictly for agents and pro scouts to see them and decide where they will be drafted when they’re eligible. In the meantime, bookstores sell jerseys with the most popular players’ numbers on them, their images grace marketing materials and they’re discussed on all the major talk shows. They train for months, get knocked around on Saturdays and don’t see a proverbial dime for it.

Isn’t an education enough?! Lots of people say yes, it’s worth thousands of dollars. However, agents, players and some experts argue that the amount of money the schools are making from these marketing efforts far surpasses the value of that education. And in my opinion, they have a point. Schools can pay a limited stipend to players; enough for gas or rent, but they cannot go further than that. Players cannot be paid a percentage of the money from jersey sales or program sales. All that goes to the school. Consider this: if an NFL level player in his senior year blows his knee out and is no longer able to play at a competitive level, he is now out whatever he could have made as a pro. He will graduate debt free, but he will not have the guaranteed income he once would have.

So do we pay them or not? Is a free education and enough cash to buy a few things sufficient? Keep in mind, these young men cannot work. They are being “paid” to play football so play they must. Most of the players you see on Saturday won’t play on Sundays. They’ll become engineers or teachers and be content with the memories and the mementos they receive from playing at college’s highest level. But does that mean they should watch the schools they play for rake in the money while they cannot? The answer is not simple. The solution certainly will not be.