Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sports Talk: Finding and keeping a coach the fans love

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Dec. 12, 2012. 
Professional sports trades always generate interest and raise eyebrows in the same way college recruitment gets the fans excited; however, the past week has made me appreciate and come to further enjoy another type of trading/recruitment: coaches.
A coach’s tenure at a school may be long or short; more often than not, the verdict on that tenure is correlated with the fans’ feelings toward a coach.
Fans get excited when their team lands a top recruit, lands the number one draft pick, or signs a top athlete previously sporting another uniform. If the player does well for the team, we love it; if the player does mediocre, or, even worse, does poorly, we sometimes get upset, but usually just look to other players to step in or look to the next year of recruitment.
We also get excited with great coaches, but unlike with players, with poor coaches, we get very, antsy and usually are not happy until the coach gets the boot. (And they always do, eventually.)
Coaches on all levels are important, but I’d venture to say they are most important to us, the fans, on the college level. No matter how great a player is, any team will only have him/her for four years, max, and if they are that great, they are one and done. They are fun for a season or two and then we’re looking for that next recruitment class.
Great coaches, on the other hand, are something every fan base desires, and once you have one, you hope they can live forever, staying happy at your school. A great coach will bring you, your fellow fans and your team one exciting, worthwhile season after another.
In the past few weeks we’ve seen a lot of excitement in the world of Kentucky college football coaches. UK fans rejoiced in Joker’s official farewell(which we all saw coming…) and have put high hopes in a “next year” with Mark Stoops.
Just this week former Louisville coach Bobby Petrino signed to take on the coaching position at Western Kentucky University (giving any EKU alums whom are also Wildcat fans an extra reason to hate the Hilltoppers).
As some know, the company I work for outside of writing is based in Louisville and I spend two days a week working in-office. One of the three coworkers I sit with is a former Cardinal football player and the other two are both die-hard Cards fans. Let’s just say last Wednesday when Charlie Strong’s future was still in question, productivity level was at about the same level it gets to during March Madness.
Needless to say, all three were in high spirits Thursday morning with assurance that Strong would bypass a move to Tennessee and remain in Louisville.
The importance of a good coach really sunk in last week with the possibility of Charlie Strong’s departure. Much like my enjoyment in seeing strength in more than one of the state of Kentucky’s basketball programs, I would love to see strength in multiple football programs, especially since we’re not exactly known as a “football state”.
Louisville’s football program has had up and down years (up being with Petrino and down coming with Kragthorpe). I’m excited Strong isn’t jumping ship the first chance he gets. I like to hope that now is when he begins to build a true legacy for himself as a Cardinal.
Meanwhile, I really, really hope Stoops brings a positive turnaround for Kentucky. (Surely we cannot get worse, right??) I hope to hear UK fans excited next season and not already calling for a new hire.

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