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Monday, September 05, 2005

I imagine that being a football coach is hard. You have to organize and control approximately 100 privileged athletes, deal with the crabs they get from sorority girls, teach them to not suck at football. It's safe to say that anyone that can ascend to the head coaching job of a D-1 school is not functionally retarded, no matter what the ND fans say about Tyrone Willingham. But not so fast, my friend... the let the record show that this does happen. The functionally retarded often find themselves at the helm of major college football programs:

3 minutes and change left in Arizona-Utah. Utah up three. Arizona has a fourth and five on the Utah 43 and one timeout... and punts. Utah runs it a bit and Arizona gets the ball back on their own 9 with 27 seconds left. They lose.
Mike Stoops, you're fired.
Six or seven minutes left in UCF-South Carolina, South Carolina up 14, UCF has a fourth and goal... and kicks a field goal. They immediately get the ball back when South Carolina fumbles the kickoff. O'Leary proceeds to run six times in a row.
George O'Leary, you're fired. This doesn't just happen to the kind of mental midgets who end up at UCF after blowing the ND job or decide to kill their career by taking a job at Arizona, either.
Texas A&M scores a touchdown with approximately 10 minutes left against Clemson to go up one point. Dennis Franchione kicks the extra point. Clemson kicks a field goal and wins 25-24.
Dennis Franchione! You're fired!
Last year in the Louisville-Miami game, Miami had a first and goal with a couple minutes left on the clock down four (I think. It was a touchdown wins, field goal loses situation). Bobby Petrino, Approved Coaching Genius, had three timeouts and used none of them. Louisville got the ball back after the Miami touchdown with vanishingly little time and lost.
Bobby Petrino, you're fired?

How is it that every weekend in college football there are at least a couple of decisions that, to put it kindly, could only be made by drunken Eastern Europeans in born in close proximity to Chernobyl? These guys have spent their entire lives watching, playing, and coaching football but they don't understand how to handle obvious late game situations.

The only possible explanation is that the coaches are so caught up in the minutiae of the game--screaming at the referees, screaming at the defensive coordinator, screaming at the guy who just fumbled--the fan doesn't have to deal with that they get overloaded and just plain screw up. Dr. Z expounded on this theory a few years ago in a column detailing the hiring of a "clockologist" by Jets' head coach Herm Edwards. How did that clockologist thing work out? Uh, not so good. Not halfway into the new season the Jets butchered yet another late-game situation. Z says he believes that the clock guy was just ignored by Edwards.

"I'm not afraid." Ohh... you will be. You will be.
After all, head coaches are notoriously stubborn and God-complex ridden. Many, being football people, aren't well versed in making snap decisions based on a set of variables--time, down and distance, score, timeouts. They suck at algebra, basically. The two combine to form a noxious, Peter-Principle-rich cocktail of stubborn belief that you are good at doing what you are not. Thus your weekly hair-pulling, garment-rending decisions by Eastern Europeans. It's probably just a matter of time before the horror of game theory gone awry hits your school.

(PS: If you're going to get into a diatribe about the end of the Rose Bowl, you will meet with resistance from me. Inviting Vince Young to run one more time would have resulted in a field goal more makeable than the 38-yarder the Longhorns actually attempted.)