Back in April Eric Johnson, a member of the Iowa staff for the past 15+ years, made the decision to walk away from college football, what many would consider a dream job, to help run a new franchise of a fast food restaurant.
The move had a lot of people, coaches, and fans of Iowa football scratching their head in disbelief, wondering what prompted the move.
In an article released today by ESPN, Johnson opened up about his decision to leave college football behind. He explains that the move boiled down to one thing in particular; Recruiting. If any profession hears this message loud and clear, it will be the college coaching community.
"It all ties together," Johnson said. "You can never get away from it. If you are at dinner and the phone rings, you have to get it. Vacation is the same way. When you are on vacation, you are worried you are missing an opportunity with a prospect. This all takes away from the family. Weekends are nonexistent because of visits.
"It is just nonstop 365 days of year, and I needed to get off of that train and get a healthy balance in my life." he explained.
"Our profession has gone so much off the deep end with everything that's going on with recruiting, and it's not even funny anymore. There are a lot of other coaches all over the country that feel the same exact way and don't like the direction things are going. There's so much BS out there. We want you to be a part of 'our can of swag' or whatever. It got to the point where I just couldn't be a part of it anymore."
Johnson goes on to explain that he ultimately came to a fork in the road in his life, and had to ask himself, "What kind of dad do I want to be?" and "What kind of coach had I become?". Chasing high school kids around had really taken it's toll, and it's an issue in the coaching profession that many feel is getting out of control, and not enough people are talking about how it can or will change.
If we want the coaching community to be comprised of the best and brightest people around, Johnson's message has to be heard by more and more. These are real concerns by someone with 15+ years of major college experience who left a place where he had job security (as much as you can have in the college coaching profession) to embark on a completely new journey in life with his wife and kids in tow.
These are the issues facing our profession, and questions have to be asked about how the recruiting landscape can change, and what we're willing to do to see that it does change. We talk to coaches around the country on a daily basis and Johnson isn't alone voicing these concerns; in fact we probably hear this sort of complaint more than any other in the profession.
Quite simply, it's time that those with the power to effect change step up and do so before too many of the best people in the business choose to leave the profession. Imagine how much better coaches (and people) we would all be if we reclaimed 20% of the time we devoted to recruiting and invested that time in our existing team, our family and our community. Let's find a way to make this happen.