By the time you are reading this, we are two weeks into the college football season.
Even after week one, there was talk of coaches who might not make it through all the scheduled games.
Perhaps the most significant is Ed Orgeron, head coach at LSU, whose team won the national championship in 2019, went 5-5 last year and opened this season with an embarrassing loss to UCLA.
A sportswriter for The Tennessean pointedly asked how soon Gus Malzahn (in his first season at Central Florida after eight seasons at Auburn) or Jimbo Fisher (head coach at Texas A&M) could make it to Baton Rouge.
Unless your name is Saban or Swinney, job security is not a common characteristic in the college coaching world.
But please, shed no tears for those who make a living in this field -- one in which, should you get fired for the usual reasons (not winning enough), you still get paid.
It has been explained how this should not bother me because the athletic budget is entirely separate, and the big-time athletic teams supposedly pay for themselves by the millions they bring in.
Still, over the 11 years I sent folks to Auburn University (which has still not named a building after me), each time tuition increased, while coaches were being fired and paid not to coach there anymore so contractual obligations would be met (and new ones were being hired), it stung more than a little.
But I digress.
In honor of the start of college football and the inevitable coaching carousel, I am today re-running part of a piece I wrote that originally ran after the 2017 season, when the folks in Knoxville were on yet another coaching search (which, not surprisingly, was not their last).
A modest proposal
With humble apologies to those who write satire better than I could ever think of doing, I make my own modest proposal. It would be to the institutions of higher learning in search of a football coach.
I am offering not to coach any of your teams. The contractual terms will be simple and straightforward, so much so you might not even bother to hire a lawyer – but that’s your call. In addition, you may deal directly with me. No agents or handlers will be involved.
In return for not coaching, I would receive the sum of $250,000.
That’s it. This is a one-time offer of a one-time payment.
You may say disparaging things about me – that I am a decent recruiter but cannot coach (or vice-versa); that I have no connection with the fan base; and/or I could never get the (insert the word “ground” or “pass,” as appropriate) game going. Anything is fair. I will take my quarter million and sign a confidentiality agreement.
No press conference will be necessary, at which time you thank me for everything I did for you, and wish me well in my future endeavors as you choose to go in a different direction.
There will be no wringing of hands and no talking about what a tough decision it was. The decision will already be made.
There is only one stipulation: I may agree not to coach for as many schools as I like, as the proceeds from each contract will go straight into my retirement fund. It is already too late for me to retire early, but with this plan I might be able to do it sooner than I was thinking. The accumulation of these payouts will determine the date, so the cumulative effect is important.
What will you get out of this deal? I think that’s pretty obvious.
Many of you are already paying millions to coaches and assistant coaches who apparently did not meet your standards but to whom, in your haste, you made all kinds of concessions to get them on board. That would include that pesky little provision requiring you to continue to pay them in the, ahem, unlikely event you decide they’re not working out.
In other words, you are already paying plenty of folks not to coach and I’m way cheaper. We bypass, “I still have confidence in Coach McKinney and we are in constant communication,” and go straight to, “You’re fired,” and there will be no hard feelings. Better yet, you won’t have to listen to me taking full responsibility each week, acknowledging the disappointment of fans and players, and coming up with platitudes.
We all know winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, and I’m being honest with you up front: I will not win games. And I am going to cost you only a fraction of what you’re paying those other guys who did not win (or win enough) and who are now not coaching. Frankly, if I do say so myself, to be so brilliant, it’s really quite simple.
So there you have it. I would urge you to act quickly.
If I have not heard from you by the end of business today, I will assume you are not interested. We will proceed with negotiations, after which I will announce, while flattered by the attention, I’m happy where I am.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].