The College Football Firing Season

The real college football season is nearing its end.  Very soon, a committee will choose the 4 best teams and invite them to play for the College Football Championship in about a month.  Meanwhile, about 80 other teams will engage in the silly-season sometimes called the Bowl Season.  And, as is always the case at this point of the real college football season, some of the schools in the major conferences have already fired their coaches and plan to “go in a different direction”.  In the case of David Beaty at Kansas, it appears as if losing too many games is the only “issue” involved in the school’s decision.  In some other cases, there is a tad more to the story – or so it might appear.

Louisville University asked Bobby Petrino to take his talents elsewhere.  The Cardinals’ season has been terrible; it is not only that they have only won twice – beating a Division 1-AA team and a possible SHOE Tournament team.  In absorbing 9 losses, consider these stats:

  • 4 losses were by 35 points or more
  • In their last 4 games, the opponent scored 52 points or more
  • The only win over a Division 1-A bottom-feeder was by a field goal.

There were ample on-field reasons to part company with Bobby Petrino.  In addition to Bobby Petrino, the AD also fired some assistant coaches:

  • Nick Petrino was the QBs coach.  He is Bobby Petrino’s son.
  • Ryan Beard was the linebackers’ coach.  He is Bobby Petrino’s son-in-law.
  • L.D. Scott was the defensive line coach.  He is Bobby Petrino’s son-in-law.

[Aside:  I have seen no reporting that indicates any other examples of nepotism.  There is a fourth Petrino child – a son – who seems not to have been on the payroll at Louisville.  I say that recalling that Bobby Petrino once had his mistress hired as part of the football program at Arkansas.]

I understand plenty of coaches hire sons and/or relatives as their assistants.  This situation seems a tad over the top to me and it is a situation that could not have been unknown to the “higher-ups” at Louisville prior to firing the head coach.

The University of Maryland parted company with DJ Durkin after he had been on paid administrative leave while a blue-ribbon panel looked into the circumstances surrounding the death of a Maryland player at one of Durkin’s practices and a so-called “toxic culture” that enveloped the football team.  We have been over the gory details there in the past; there is no need to re-hash them here.  Except … there may be more to the story.

The Baltimore Sun has reported that while Durkin was on administrative leave, he continued to have contact with the team and continued to assist in things like game planning and film reviews.  Nominally, this was not supposed to happen; Durkin was not to be part of the football program while the investigation was ongoing.  But the report goes deeper than that…

According to the report, when the blue-ribbon committee asked Durkin about his football activities, he told the committee that the Athletic Director, Damon Evans, knew about his continued association with the team and that Evans approved of that activity.

Let me call a time-out here…  Considering the totality of the findings of the blue-ribbon committee regarding Coach Durkin, I am not willing to take any statement of his as gospel truth absent some corroboration.  However, if there is even a smidgen corroboration uncovered here, then Athletic Director Evans – who remains on the job and was in the Athletic Department hierarchy for most if not all of Durkin’s tenure at Maryland – must be fired too.  If in fact Evans knew of this and/or approved of it, we are looking at a situation where he nullified a university order while an investigation into the death of a university student was ongoing.  Seriously, now …

Colorado University fired Mike MacIntyre last weekend.  Ostensibly, this was because the Buffaloes had lost their 6th game in a row on Saturday.  The problem with drawing that conclusion is that it seems awfully hasty in the larger context of MacIntyre’s time in Boulder, CO.  when he got there about 6 years ago, the football program was in tatters; the days where Colorado was a nationally ranked and recognized team were fading into distant memory.  He arrived and started a rebuilding program that got to the point where Colorado was 10-2 just 2 years ago; they played in the PAC-12 Championship game, and MacIntyre was named the National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press.

While I recognized that the team’s collapse this year had put MacIntyre on a hot seat – – as I mentioned in the last iteration of football Friday – – I never imagined that he would be fired before the season ended.  He had rebuilt the program from the ground up; it may not be a mid-western version of Alabama, but it is significantly better than it was when he got there.  It seemed to me that there had to be something else going on there in addition to a 6-game losing streak.

A Google search turned up an “issue”.  Soon after that wonderful 2016 season where the Buffaloes were in the PAC-12 Championship game, there were allegations that one of MacIntyre’s assistant coaches had been beating up the assistant’s girlfriend.  MacIntyre did not report these allegations once he knew about them to the police or to other university authorities as needed so that the university can comply with Title IX.  An investigation then into the whole thing also determined that MacIntyre improperly informed the assistant coach of the allegations and then tried to arrange for the assistant to get an attorney prior to telling anyone else about the allegations.

The assistant coach was ultimately charged with felony assault and resigned from the Colorado coaching staff.  MacIntyre was given a formal letter of reprimand and ordered by the university to donate $100K to organizations involved in reducing incidents of domestic violence.  While that may have been sufficient punishment two years ago, the rise of the MeeToo Movement in recent months has made the aiding and abetting of that sort of behavior far less acceptable.  My guess – and it is purely a guess – is that Colorado University did not want to rehash all that stuff under today’s scrutiny.  And so, that 6-game losing streak took on a more ominous mien.

Now, fear not for these three coaches.  All will get at least a 7-figure buyout from these schools.  Perhaps it is true that no good deed goes unpunished.  In these cases, one might conclude that some less-than-laudable behaviors have been amply rewarded.

Finally, Brad Dickson had this comment about tonight’s “Game of the Year” between the LA Rams and the KC Chiefs:

“The huge K.C. Chiefs-L.A. Rams game has been moved from Mexico City to Los Angeles. The main difference? In L.A. there’ll be more people in the stands speaking Spanish.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



3 thoughts on “The College Football Firing Season”

  1. Helton might be following as well, his only hope is that his team beats Notre Dame on Saturday, which I do not see happening because the Syracuse game last weekend clearly shows a focused Irish team and FWIW they hate SC. No letdown.

    I think the #MeToo movement is something that will be painful but was long overdue in terms of cleaning out the various programs of the troglodytes. How far back will this go and will this be modified by sustained good behavior since the event(s) under investigation? That’s a good question and I do not have a responsible answer that could satisfy everyone. Perhaps contrition is necessary first.

    I will say that while MacIntyre was here at SJSU he did not have that sort of scandal attached to the Spartans (we have a short fuse in CA for that sort of thing), so it’s a bit of a surprise to me to read this. Also, on the topic of preparation, MacIntyre has his master plan for reviving a program from bottom to top which got some glowing press here in San Jose back in the day. I mention this because I find it hard to believe that someone that OC-level prepared would not have had something about legal entanglements in his binders even if the specifics wouldn’t be known, and everyone gets Title IX training at a university since every U will get federal money.

  2. The Petrinos like to keep it in the family. Paul Petrino, Bobby’s younger brother, is the head coach at Idaho. Paul’s son is the starting quarterback.

    1. Gil:

      Bobby Petrino played QB for his father at a small school in either Montana or Idaho – – that part of the world. I presume that Paul Petrino also played for his father but am too lazy to go look it up…

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