Maybe you’re mad at John L. Smith, and frankly, who can blame you?
You’re a Weber State fan, you’re an alum, a student or someone who just naturally bleeds purple. And when you heard the news Monday afternoon that WSU coach John L. Smith has agreed to be the interim head coach at Arkansas — following the departure of disgraced coach Bobby Petrino — you’re first thought was "C’mon, man! Are you kidding?"
John L., who played for the Wildcats many years ago, accepted WSU’s head coaching job last December, saying he felt it was time to come back home. Previously, he’d been an assistant of Petrino’s at Arkansas.
Apparently the sentimentality of coming home — of coming full circle as John L. said four months ago — simply cannot compete with Arkansas’ resources, power and cachet.
Too bad, yes.
Shocking, no. Not really.
After all, we’re talking about college football here. We’re talking about a funhouse ride where everything is exciting and even though we know it’s all distorted (and more than a little creepy, too) we hold on tightly and keep our arms and feet inside the ride at all times.
And we scream with delight.
As coaches like to say these days, It is what it is. So, if you’re a Wildcat fan and you’re mad today, don’t blame John L. Smith because he did what many of us would do anyway. Even though he’s already got plenty of money, it’s almost impossible to turn down whatever Arkansas has offered.
And anyway, something tells me this isn’t about the money. It’s about John L.’s ties to the team, it’s recent turmoil and above all the top-10 talent Petrino left on the field.
As cruel as it seems, leaving WSU after a brief-but-promising courtship made sense for John L. After all, he’s a football coach and in addition to Arkansas’ money, he also gets a chance to coach players he already knows well. And well, shoot, if those players also happen to be talented enough to compete on college football’s biggest stage, taking the job is a no-brainer.
So once again, if you’re a WSU fan and you’re mad today, don’t blame John L., blame college football, blame Arkansas, blame the SEC and blame Bobby Petrino.
Believe me, I feel badly for WSU fans, players, coaches, boosters and athletic director Jerry Bovee.
What happened Monday was terribly unfair. But then again, college football itself is not only unfair, it’s unseemly and unbelievably unclean.
Many of us look at politicians and the political game and we shake our heads because something originally intended for our benefit has been corrupted into something that drips with selfishness and egotism.
We scratch our heads and wonder what happened to ethics, but really, the modern political process has nothing on the NCAA in general and college football in particular.
Cheating scandals are so commonplace, if we ever see a season in which the every big-time program stays clean, it’ll make headlines. Coaches skirt the rules, players take improper benefits and boosters do whatever it takes to make sure their school stays on top.
Even those who get involved for the right reasons are susceptible to scandal. Why? Because they’re playing a cut-throat game with an uneven playing field. What applies to some doesn’t apply to others and playing that way will eventually beat the altruism right out of you.
Yes, I know I’m painting with a broad brush here, I know I’m making generalities. Of course not every coach is a cheater, nor is every player looking for an easy grade or a freebie of some kind.
I’d tell WSU fans to appreciate the fact the Wildcats play at the FCS level, because it’s not "big-time" enough and therefor hasn’t seen quite the corruption.
Still, if you’re still fuming today, don’t waste your anger at John L. Smith, save for the real culprit: the slimy game known as big-time college football.