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A story about a promising young coach...who got fired

Allow me to start by sharing a story that will help paint a beautiful picture, if you will...

Our story begins with a wonderful young couple. The Lord blessed them with a healthy baby boy. That young man would grow to be a respectful young man. Always focusing his attention, effort and love where it was needed. In high school he was blessed to play quarterback and had several successful seasons. He was offered the opportunity to walk on at his college of choice and he gladly accepted the offer and the challenge. Every day in college he competed with players who perhaps were more gifted physically, but none whom he believed out-willed or outworked him. His spirit was infectious and by his junior year not only had the coaches bestowed a full scholarship upon him but his teammates had made him a captain of his team. His college years were a resounding success, including finding the love of his life whom he married shortly after their graduation. He knew the NFL wasn't his calling, he knew that he wanted to coach college football as soon as he graduated.

After a great honeymoon, this young man and his wife were thrilled to receive word that through a coaching connection from his coaching staff, that a Power 5 school just a few states over was offering him an opportunity to begin his coaching career as graduate assistant. He and his wife quickly moved to the new town (which they oh so quickly grew to love) and he dove in. This young man and his huge heart just wanted to help lead young men in life and in this great game so many love.

He began working in July and their team had a challenging season, going 6-6 (after going 7-5 the year before). Within days after the season, the quarterbacks coach accepted a new job across the country and literally was gone before even saying goodbye to anyone on the staff. Our young coach was puzzled by the news; but almost immediately received an offer he simply couldn't believe. At the age of just 23, the head coach was offering him the position of quarterbacks coach. He simply couldn't believe how fortunate he was. He and wife were ecstatic. His parents were so proud. This young man had worked hard and done right his entire life. Now he truly was living out his dream.

But alas, this story would take an unexpected but, unfortunately, very realistic turn. Despite this young man doing absolutely everything right over the course of the next 12 months (his quarterbacks thrived, he had landed a star recruit, every player on the team looked up to him as a role model, the coaching staff knew he was a rising star in the profession), the team, once again, under-performed. Their final record was 4-8. The defense allowed a lot of points and the offense turned the ball over a few too many times. One year to the day that he had been made the new quarterbacks coach, his head coach called the staff in for a meeting and told them that the administration was firing him and was not going to keep anyone from the staff either. The school wanted a clean break.

Can you imagine how psychologically harmful that would be to our young coach and his new bride? Knowing that although he gave his all and performed quite well, and although they loved their city, their staff and their players, that they would have to uproot and move elsewhere in this great country to pursue their dreams.

The coaching world is disconnected from the "real world" in a number of ways. The positive is that those at the top of the food chain earn paychecks beyond their wildest dreams and regardless of how much you earn, you get to work daily molding and improving the lives of young men. The negative is that every year, about 20% of coaches are "fired".

Think about that. Twenty percent of the workforce is asked to leave every year, and a large chunk of that 20 percent are swept out due to circumstances well beyond their control.

With That Time of Year approaching just around the corner, a coach's wife (who asked to remain anonymous) shared her thoughts on the real world cost to a job that operates outside the real world -- that a "fired" football coach doesn't mean the same as, say, a "fired" accountant -- but there are still thousands of wives and children affected just the same.

She writes:

Please keep in mind the football coaches, their families, their assistant coaches and their families and the players and their families that must endure the hardships, challenges and difficulties associated with the firing of good college head coaches. These men and their families sacrifice more that anyone on the outside can ever understand. I have often thought that there should be another word used instead of "fired" because to the rest of the world "fired" implies that the person "lied, cheated or stole" - but in football in means that a few 18 year old players did not follow their plays, the refs made some bad calls, the coaches called some incorrect plays or the other team was simply bigger and stronger.

It used to be that coaches were "relieved of their duties" after the season - but this trend of firing mid-season is terrible and should be reserved for those coaches who acted illegally and truly "lied, cheated or stole." There is still a lot of football to be played this season and to deny any head coach and their players to turn around a season is wrong - especially at the behest of arm-chair alumni and administrators.

As they say they say "there are 2 types of football coaches" - "those that have been fired and those that will be fired!" Sadly that is true, but I ask all of you to show compassion to these men and their families - no good coach ever tries to lose games! My prayers and those of my children go out those who have been through this personally; ask everyone to think about the effects of the dangerous bandwagon of public opinion before you get on it!

As she explains, being fired implies you did something to deserve said firing. But in this world, the coaching world, it's known that being fired in many cases is not a statement at all on a coach's ability to perform the functions of the job. Hard to say that the young coach in our story "deserved" to be fired; but examples like this happen all of the time. So, please do remember that being "fired" takes a toll on a person. Be compassionate.

It's just the job, and it's different than anything else out there.

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