Football Coaches In The News Today …

I mentioned yesterday that the NFL has suspended its 10th player this year for violating the NFL’s gambling protocols.  That player was Eyioma Uwazurike, DE, Broncos.  Yesterday, Broncos’ head coach Sean Payton said the NFL bears some responsibility in the slew of suspensions because its messaging to the players is confusing.  According to a report at, here is how Payton explained the policy in less legal terms to his players in the Spring:

“You can’t bet on NFL football, ever, ever, ever.  I don’t give a (expletive) what it is. The other thing is, it’s the same as the gun policy. You can’t bet on nothing if you’re at your facility, your hotel, your airplane. So, wherever you can’t carry a gun, you can’t place a bet.”

Crystalized simplicity there.  That is an important coaching skill – – taking a complicated thing and making it into a simple thing.

Speaking of football coaches, Deion Sanders had a scheduled procedure to remove blood clots from his right leg and to straighten toes on his left foot last week.  Reports say he is recovering and will be back on the job next week.  With Sean Payton on the job with the Broncos and Deion Sanders leading the Colorado Buffaloes up the road in Boulder, CO, football fans in that region should have plenty of news to chew on once the season kicks off…

A little to the east in Michigan, the coaching news is a bit less positive.  Reports yesterday said that Jim Harbaugh might face a 4-game suspension this year for either lying to or purposely misleading NCAA investigators who were looking into possible recruiting infractions that happened during the “dark period” back when COVID imposed additional recruiting limitations.  Harbaugh has said he did not lie, nor did he intentionally mislead anyone but that he gave some wrong answers to questions because he did not know the details of what had happened.  This does not even rise to the level of a tempest in a teapot because if indeed Harbaugh must sit out the first 4 games of 2023, he will miss being on the sidelines for four home games in Ann Arbor against:

  1. East Carolina
  2. UNLV
  3. Bowling Green
  4. Rutgers

If the NCAA wanted to punish him in something that was even marginally meaningful, they would suspend him for the final four games of 2023 as follows:

  1. Purdue (at home)
  2. At Penn State
  3. At Maryland
  4. Ohio State (at home).

And staying with the thread of football coaches in the news today, the floodgates have opened in terms of lawsuits related to the hazing scandal at Northwestern that saw Head Coach, Pat Fitzgerald lose his job there.  I am sure that I have not included all the specific defendants in the myriad lawsuits here, but I am sure the following folks have been named so far:

  • Coach Pat Fitzgerald
  • Northwestern President Michael Schill
  • Northwestern AD Derrick Gragg
  • The Northwestern Board of Trustees

I asked a friend who is not a litigator but a tax attorney how and why the Board of Trustees were named as defendants in some if not all the suits.  My question assumed that the members of the Board were not likely to be present in the football locker room after practices such that any of them might have been aware of activities that are clearly improper and are in fact criminal in some states.  His explanation demonstrated my lack of legal training.

He said that the objective of the lawsuits is to get money for the plaintiffs as recompense for the plaintiffs’ suffering and degradation during the hazing periods.  There is no way to undo what happened to them, so “punishment” in this matter comes down to guilty parties exchanging money with the victims to “right the wrongs”.  Since this whole matter has become an economic one, the strategy on the plaintiffs’ side is to get at the endowment fund for Northwestern University because that is where the BIG money resides in this case.  [Aside:  A quick Google search reveals that the current size of the Northwestern endowment is $14.1B].

He also said that most if not all these suits would be settled without a trial for several reasons:

  • Privacy:  There would be embarrassing information revealed in an open trial affecting both sides so there is motivation to settle and to put non-disclosure agreements in place.
  • Risk:  Juries are unpredictable both in terms of the verdict they present and then in the amount of damages they award.  Remember that the USFL won a suit against the NFL in the 1980s and the jury there awarded the USFL one dollar in damages.

Finally, since today has been about football coaches, let me close with a quote from Spike Dykes, former head football coach at Texas Tech, after his team lost a game and did not play well:

“Oh, we played about three tons of buzzard puke this afternoon.”

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