[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Character

Monday, February 05, 2007


A lot has been said about the character exhibited by the two head coaches in yesterday's Super Bowl. There's no doubt that even at the professional level, having a leader who is a solid person as well as coach is very important.

An aside on the game yesterday...I'm hoping that the myth of the outdoors team playing better in bad weather has finally come crashing to earth. Truth is, no team likes to play in bad weather, not even a team with a "reputation" (still haven't figured out when they earned it) for playing well in bad weather such as the Chicago Bears. Bottom line, the better team usually wins. In the case of SB 41, it was accentuated by a Hall of Fame quarterback playing against a mediocre quarterback.

Back to the topic at hand. Character in coaching is even more important in the college ranks.

George Will wrote a very good column on University of Miami head coach Randy Shannon in yesterday's Herald that surely got lost in the Super Bowl hype, but deserves to be read.

Shannon's story is inspirational:

Shannon, 40, grew up in Liberty City, which is what sociologists and other refined thinkers call a challenging urban environment. Shannon was 3 when his father was murdered by one of his friends.

''They had an argument,'' Shannon says matter-of-factly. Two of Shannon's brothers and a sister died, from cocaine and AIDS. By age 16, Shannon was a father. He could easily have been on a glide path to a prison or a cemetery. Instead, because of football, he went to UM and became the first member of his family to earn a college degree.

Forget about the fact that he's African-American. He's overcome adversity to become a successful coach and is now in a position where he can directly lead a group of young men to success on and off the field.

His players better get used to performing off the field as well, because here's what will happen if they don't:
Shannon's rules for his players include: If you miss a class, you don't start the next game. Fall below a certain grade-point average, you can't set foot off campus. A conservatively dressed man, with the elegant hands of a surgeon or pianist, Shannon wants his players to learn ''how to respect life,'' so when ''they leave the university and the football program, they will go with confidence.'' They will go, all of them, having taken a public-speaking course.
This is what college football is supposed to be about. I've lost a lot of interest in college football over the years because it has mostly become what the NCAA refuses to acknowledge: a farm system for the NFL. Sure, college kids have always been drafted to play in the pros, but only after at least 4 years of school. Many kids today leave for the pros after a couple of years. I still remember my college days at Florida State during the Deion Sanders era when he would skip an entire semester of classes and show up to games in a limo. Did he ever get suspended? Of course not. This isn't just a criticism of my alma mater, similar things likely happen at many other schools.

I know my view is too idealistic, but it's good to see a major college football head coach take a stand and focus on building successful human beings, not just great football players.

Read the entire article here.

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Blogger Henry Gomez said...

As a Gator, I surely am no fan of Da U but I respect Randy Shannon and think he was the right hire. I think despite the abuses that have happened in college football we are starting to see a new trend in coaching. The successful coaches of the future will recruit not only the fatsest and biggest players but also the ones that have th best chance at "making it" in the college environment.

10:56 AM, February 05, 2007  

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