When in doubt, stop blaming the coach
Perhaps, sometimes, the athletes aren't that good.
Yes, I listen far too much to “The Paul Finebaum Show.”
In the wake of a loss at LSU last weekend, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is on the hot seat for mishandling/not benching/not having the Midas touch with freshman quarterback Bo Nix. The Tigers (the Auburn ones) are 6-2 with losses at Florida, The Swamp, and in Baton Rouge, Death Valley.
Truthfully, what more could an Auburn fan expect after games in such aptly named places?
Thus, Malzahn’s an idiot, despite two wins in six years against archrival Alabama and Nick Saban, a record only surpassed by Clemson’s Dabo Swinney — few beat Saint Nick.
We just bring this up because we’re getting to the point in the fall season when high school coaches are either brilliant or downright idiots. Shockingly enough, David Cope (Battle Mountain soccer, 14-0-1) Tim Pierson (Vail Christian football, 8-0) and Rob Parish (Battle Mountain cross-country, double regional titles and his girls’ team finishing second in the state, are the really “smart” coaches.
Are these guys “good” coaches? Of course. Pierson’s 16-year tenure with the Saints makes him the “junior” as far as experience goes among these three.
It should be noted that Cope definitely knows what he’s doing when he has talent all over the roster with guys like Louis Castillo to Dani Barajas to Quinn Mitchell to Trevino Twiss.
Parish is pretty smart when he writes down Grace Johnson, Elliot Pribramsky, Emma Reeder, Milaina Almonte, and Lily Wheelan. And Pierson is clearly on top of his game when his team has guys like John Pavelich, Micah Sharpe, Eddie Palacio and Slater O’Brien in the trenches.
These coaches deserve all the credit in the world for building programs with the right culture, standards, winning traditions and getting their athletes to work (ahem, Parish). They know their X’s and O’s, and yes, there are X’s and O’s in cross-country.
As vastly different as these coaches’ sports are, however, they do share one thing in common — they have the horses. That really helps when it comes to being a “good” coach.
Cope lost to Glenwood Springs, 9-0, in his first year back in 1993. There was a time when Parish was darn excited to qualify one guy like Grant Stevenson for state. And we’ve talked about what happened to Vail Christian when the Saints moved from 8-man to 11-man football.
Of course, coaches make mistakes and grow through their careers. If the don’t they’re not good coaches. And, yes some coaches are better than others.
But there is the control and the variable — and here’s a clue: The variable ain’t the coaches.
Getting back to coach Gus, our local schools aren’t Southeastern Conference schools, though it would be cool to have a Finebaum-like show for the Western Slope.
A coach has what he or she has. It’s not like there’s high-stakes recruiting from Homestake Peak or Eagle Valley Middle School. And some teams just aren’t good. That’s life, people.
But the increasing propensity to blame the coach for a team’s shortcomings is maddening. High school sports are just an extension of the classroom, another vehicle for teaching discipline, accountability and work ethic.
How are you teaching discipline, accountability and work ethic, when the response to failure is blaming the coach? How does that carry over to college or a first-job situation? “Don’t blame me? It’s (insert-name-here)’s fault?” That’s not going to go over well in the real world.
Better the student-athlete learn that it can be a cold world out there in friendly confines of a high school sports team than in the actual cold world.
It never ceases to amaze me to hear parents talk about how it was the coach’s fault that their kid’s team lost. When was the last time a coach played?
A coach is also not a baby sitter. If an athlete makes a dumb decision away from school, that’s on the athlete, not the coach.
Stop. You’re not helping. You want to help? By all means, be there for your kid, provide that shoulder and a hug for the tough moments. But after a bit, it’s time to encourage them to get back at it and work harder.
And if you think you can coach, well, there might be opening at Auburn soon.