College football coaches have gone mad and no one not players, opposing coaches or even business partners is free from their wrath.
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen turned a post-game handshake, a symbol of sportsmanship, into an insulting profanity-laced tirade against Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. Caught on tape, the incident (eventually) earned Christensen a $50,000 fine and a one-game suspension, which hes serving against Boise State.
Idaho State coach Mike Kramer turned what could have been a teaching moment in practice into a shoving incident against wide receiver Derek Graves. Caught on tape, the push (eventually) earned Kramer a one-game suspension, which hes serving this week against Montana.
What in the name of Woody Hayes the legendary Ohio State coach who ended his career by socking a Clemson player during a game is going on around here?
Its probably not a coincidence that Christensens Cowboys are 1-6 and he is feeling some heat after taking Wyoming to two bowl games in his first three seasons, or that Kramer is 1-6 and hasnt been able to turn around the struggling program in Pocatello.
The pressure in college football has never been higher. The need to win never greater. The job security never shakier. The outside attention never more intense.
Just ask Idaho coach Robb Akey, who became the first FBS coach fired this season when he was let go Sunday. Were not talking about a midseason dismissal at Alabama or Oklahoma, storied programs with massive stadiums to fill and TV contracts to earn. Even at Idaho, a midseason firing is possible.
Auburns Gene Chizik, who led the Tigers to the national championship two years ago, might find himself unemployed by the end of the year. College football, which has steadily been moving this direction, has become a What have you done for me lately? kind of business.
This is not a defense of Christensen or Kramer. Both earned their suspensions with unacceptable behavior and should feel lucky they didnt receive larger penalties.
It is just an observation on the nature of coaching college football these days.
Im sure similar episodes have taken place in the past. Many times, even. But that was before YouTube, which broadcast Christensens misdeeds to anyone with an Internet connection. And it was before cellphone cameras, which Graves used to record the practice video of Kramers shove.
Technology allowed the stories to spread just as it caught Notre Dames Brian Kelly turning red during a sideline rant and Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease using his own colorful language.
The pressure adds up, even if it doesnt result in the boorish behavior shown by Christensen and Kramer.
They do strange things.
Texas Mack Brown, certainly feeling the heat, spent much of this week complaining about his commitments to the Longhorn Network. A public complaint about a business that pays your school $300 million over the next 20 years is a sign that things arent going well.
Tennessees Derek Dooley was forced to respond to reports that he offered to resign this week and threatened to bench his starting quarterback if he throws more interceptions. Sadly, no one has asked him to answer for those terrible orange pants he wears. He, too, could be looking for work in the offseason.
Even coaches in terrific situations have fallen victim to stupidity. Weve seen Bobby Petrino crash his motorcycle and his career. And Jim Tressel lie his way out of one of the best jobs in America.
The old men being hired to mold young men are behaving worse than the 20-year-olds theyre paid to teach.
No one expects football coaches to be choirboys or angels. No one expects them to become lunatics around opposing coaches or shove players either.
We should expect a little class, a little dignity, a little self-control from the men who are often the highest-paid person on their campus and, sometimes, in their state. Self-control, even under pressure, isnt asking too much, right?
Or maybe it is.