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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving, football, and a grain of salt.

Since it is Thanksgiving it seems like a good time to talk about the odd way life turns, and twists, and a little bit of silliness. All in the vein of football. Many Americans believe football is a very important part of the reason to be thankful.

Recently Urban Meyer, head coach of the Ohio State football team, published a book.  I can't really remember the name, and it isn't really all that important.  Apparently the book dealt with last seasons championship team. I didn't read the book, but since I live in Columbus, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Urban Meyer interview.

According to the majority of interviews I was forced to endure the book dealt with instilling the proper values, and sense of responsibility in the players. He talked, apparently, about leadership, and love, and putting team first. All very noble, and wonderful.

He talked, during the interviews, about how much he loved the team, and what a special bond existed. And, I think he probably meant every word. Urban Meyer is an incredibly successful college football coach, and it would not be possible if he didn't feel an attachment to the players.

People ate it up. Endlessly talking about the ethic, and exacting standards Coach Meyer demanded of his team. Sports fans are the most easily deluded people.

Unfortunately for Coach Meyer his starting quarterback was arrested for driving under the influence, and minor in possession of alcohol. Ouch. Only a week after the release of the book. He was suspended for one game. Not exactly a draconian punishment. Whether it was appropriate, or not is unimportant. He was a young man, who made a mistake, as young men so often will. But, it was not a courageous act of responsible leadership.

And even more unfortunate for the coach, they lost to Michigan State. It was a tough game that was decided on a field goal as time expired. It could have gone either way, the kind of game that is so fun to watch.

But when it was over the star running back came on television and said he was forgoing his senior
season, and roundly criticized the play calling. He felt, he said, they should have given him the ball more often. Checking the statistics he carried the ball 12 times for 33 yards. These numbers fall short of inspiring. Plus, the tail back had spent two days in the hospital with an infection in his leg.

Certainly, Urban Meyer does the best he can with a widely diverse group of young men. And he wins games, which is why he was hired. But, fans like to pretend that there is more to it than football. So, enjoy the games. Appreciate all the hard work of the players and coaches. But, don't think for a second that it is being played by angels, accept that they are humans who make mistakes, and it is even more remarkable.