Monday, January 08, 2007

The Death of Loyalty

Is the concept of loyalty dead? Are the Bobby Bowden / Joe Paterno types dinosaurs of their day? Are there any real "lifers" left, destined to coach at their school for 20+ years? As we watch the Nick Sabans and Bobby Petrino's of the world jump to new jobs faster than you can say "buyout", you have to wonder where the state of coaching is headed.

So what is driving the death of loyalty? Coaches in general don't have loyalty to their schools, but have they become victims of the death of loyalty from fans who covet short-term winning at any cost and don't value the concept of "building" a program? I mean, if Nick Saban knew deep down that he wasn't going to be able to turn that thing around with the Dolphins, and he had a chance to beat the reaper by a year and sign a big long-term collegiate contract - was he wrong? Maybe he was wrong for being a weasel about how he answered questions, but was he wrong to go? Ironically, he'll be heading to a place where the inmates run the asylum so it seems like a match made in heaven. Our own beloved Bobby Cremins was basically run out of town by fans. Yeah, I know - he left, but he could hear the whispers and knew that fans were getting restless. "Coach Cremins - we know you built everything that is Georgia Tech basketball from nothing, like a pheonix from the ashes, but you haven't really done great lately, so we would like someone prettier, sexier. I'm thankful that he bowed out when he did and that didn't come to a head in a worse way, but again - back the loyalty thing. Does it exist anymore?

So that brings us to Chan Gailey. What are the fans thinking about his flirtation with the Dolphins job? There seem to be a few camps:

This group is absolutely convinced that he's not leaving. They are convinced that since Chan is buddies with Dolphins owner Wayne H. and that this interview is more of a "favor" to the owner. They have generally latched on to statements about the interview being less about a job and believe it is more of a "consulting" gig. They have also latched on to comments by at least one recruit saying an assistant coach told him Gailey would be back...................... In addition, this group points to Chan's background and upbringing in the state of GA and his closeness to retirement, as well as his desire to mold and shape kids instead of dealing with pro-egos.

There is a contingent that think this whole process can actually have a benefit for the program - primarily as it relates to recruiting. Can it be bad to have your head coach in daily headlines across the greater part of the state of Florida as a possible candidate for another NFL coaching job? Can it hurt to have all the bigtime recruits see that for a week or two? Probably not I guess. However, the antithesis of this is that the longer this drags out, the more uncertainty it creates around the stellar class he is supposed to sign this month.

There's enough in Chan Gailey's quotes to believe that he really wants a chance at the Dolphins job. There is a mixed group of Chan-lovers and Chan-haters that really believe he wants this job and has made it clear to the Dolphins. They point to a general belief that Chan is only 2-3 years away from getting his full NFL pension. Chan's offensive style favors the pro game and maybe he wants another shot at the big-time without the 3-ring circus of the Jerry Jones to worry about.

A small group of fans sees this as a way for Chan Gailey to remind people that he's still got some sizzle on the open market. Face it - in all his years at Tech his name never came up in connection with a major college or NFL job. So now he takes Tech to the ACCCG and his name very briefly surfaces in connection with the Alabama job and now he's interviewing to be the head coach at Miami. So maybe this is Chan's way to show the new AD and all those fickle fans that he can get himself another girlfriend if we're not interested in what he's trying to build here.

This is the group that never liked him from day one and never wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. This is the group that has been typically the most negative and vocal on the internet and call-in shows. This group is currently in "what do you Chan lovers have to say NOW about his loyalty" mode. Any chance to rub something in, this group is taking advantage of.

For all these varied groups, they do have one thing in common - they want this thing to end quickly. The general feeling is - if you're staying, let us know. If you're leaving, leave already and let us get another coach before we end up being the last domino in the stack and have to "settle". I'm in with everyone else. While I don't think this will really hurt recruiting much, the longer it drags out, the larger that possibility grows. I think it's great to have your head coach be respected for his many years in the game at both collegiate and professional levels. I think it's admirable that Coach Gailey and D-Rad have handled this in a somewhat open manner, letting fans know what is happening.

So the problem right now seems more with the Dolphins. Wayne H - make a decision already - do you want Chan in the running or not? Is he your back-up date to the prom if you can't get the sexy gal to go out with you - Pete Carroll and the like? Let Chan know something soon so we can all just get on with life. Each day that passes Chan starts to lose a little of his base - those fans that have supported him but want a guy dedicated to Georgia Tech. It may not be his fault this thing gets dragged out, but that's the effect it will have.