It’s long been a truth to college football coaches that any problem can be solved by making sure players study their playbooks more. Creating a “bubble,” as they see it in their mind, is actually utopia to pretty much every college football coach. An environment where all a player can do is stay in one room until leaving for the practice field or weight room, and then return back to the first room, where the only entertainment will be gazing at the genius scribblings that outline how they will conquer the next week’s opponents, and every opponent after that. This is what college coaches have always wanted.
It’s quite amazing anyone seeks out the opinion of a college football coach for anything, because we have long known that the brood, as a whole, took on their own life form long ago. They are barely human, having sacrificed emotion, awareness, and most senses of connections to anyone outside the “team,” in exchange for hours of film study and meetings. Nick Saban has never enjoyed any of his national championship triumphs because it meant time away from his pursuit of national championships. If you tried to explain this circular problem to him he’d choke you out before he himself imploded from the circuit miscalculation.
The only reason coaches adhere so closely to the bible, along with their playbook, is they see it as just another playbook. Nothing more.
With the postponement of the Big 10 and Pac-12 seasons, and the push for the Big 12, ACC, and SEC to follow, more coaches have come out to say just how wrong they think it is. That under their guise and control, everyone would be safe. No player would dare go against them. They know best, because they are the leader of young men and what they say goes.
Why would anyone believe coaches’ claims that they can institute total control, when they have never done so? These programs have for decades been unable to keep kids from committing various felonies on campus. In a world where even millionaire professional athletes with more to lose than collegiate ones can’t even be kept on a leash, where pros violate protocols just to go to a patio, and this combination is going to keep kids from frat parties on campus a five minute walk away?
Scott Frost, Nebraska’s coach, who was bellowing from every orifice about the injustice of the Big 10’s delay, just had two players charged with sexual assault. Ryan Day, expelling all the tears the state of Ohio had to offer, had two players arrested earlier this year for sexual assault. The list of things that have gone on at Michigan while human khaki Jim Harbaugh has been in charge gets close to dizzying.
The list of college programs that have seen players do heinous things includes pretty much all of them. All were committed under the vigilant eyes of a coach who claimed they ran a tight ship, and were doing the Lord’s work, and were invested in the campus, community, and the growth of young men. And while each program can claim, rightly, that it’s a tiny minority, a tiny minority of players not following rules is exactly the danger with COVID-19. It’s always been the danger, but it was one coaches had been willing to accept when it was about one or two other non-playing students getting hurt. There’s a litany of stories about coaches trying to sway or intimidate victims to protect their players. Do we really think they’ll care if a misstep from a player or two in this pandemic could infect hundreds of others on campus? Or will it just be another obstacle for the team to overcome in the quest for victory? Fuck, Penn State didn’t mind when it was hundreds of victims of sexual assault.
The truth is no one can get 100-150 teenagers to behave in any way by sheer will. These are kids, and they will do stupid and dangerous and hurtful things because that’s just how it goes. Adults will do those things, because any sampling of 100-150 adults assuredly contains a dangerous numbnuts or two. If anything these few months have proven that people in this country have to be protected from themselves. Or proven it more so.
So coaches can say they can enforce all their players to stay in the dorms and only report to practice and never leave, but when has that ever worked 100% before? Even the NBA had to institute a rule that only long-term relationships and family will be allowed into the bubble when it comes time for that in Orlando. Even the NBA thinks it has to tightly monitor who players bring into the bubble. Well, in college with kids much younger and less mature, everyone is already there. They can see anyone they want on the same grounds. That was half the appeal of college in the first place, wasn’t it?
College coaches haven’t been able to keep players from doing abnormally heinous things forever. They honestly think they can keep kids from doing things college kids normally do? No chance.