Michigan State football and the state of college landscape

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 7: Michigan State Spartans' coach Mark Dantonio watches the Nebraska Cornhuskers score during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 7: Michigan State Spartans' coach Mark Dantonio watches the Nebraska Cornhuskers score during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images) /

In light of alleged scandals occurring at OSU and Maryland, Michigan State football and the college landscape will aim to do better.

There is an old saying, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Ohio State Urban Meyer allegedly lied about what and when he knew about Zach Smith’s alleged domestic abuse at Big Ten Media Day. ESPN is now reporting that there was also a drunk driving incident in 2013. Urban Meyer is currently under paid leave while an investigation takes place.

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On May 29, a Maryland football player, Jordan McNair, was hospitalized after showing signs of heatstroke. On June 13, McNair passed away. However, no cause of death has been officially released. Head Coach DJ Durkin and other staff are also on paid leave while an independent investigation takes place.

ESPN also recently ran a report that there is a toxic culture of intimidation and humiliation with verbal abuse. The report sites many unnamed sources. No matter how bright and upcoming or even legendary a coach might be if any of these allegations are proven to be true then in light of the culture we live in today they need to be let go.

However, proving who knew what and when and how could be extremely difficult. Ohio State did not hesitate when they fired legendary coach Woody Hayes nor did the Buckeyes flinch when it was revealed what Jim Tressel was aware of. Also, players being hospitalized is nothing new. Former Oregon head coach, now Florida State head coach, Willie Taggart had multiple players hospitalized in 2017 for grueling workouts.

Why would a legendary head coach like Urban Meyer keep a coach like Zach Smith at Florida when he was arrested for aggravated battery against his then pregnant Courtney Smith albeit charges were not filed? Many pundits speculate that it is because he is the grandson of Earl Bruce one of Meyer’s mentors. Or it has been speculated that Smith is an excellent recruiter.

Florida fans will say they are not surprised to hear what is happening in Columbus. Matt Hayes at the Sporting News  wrote an excellent article about Meyer’s time in Florida. He said in that article that it was Meyer who declared the Florida program “broken” at the end of his last regular season game in Gainesville in November 2010.

It is a win-now culture in college football and it has been this way for a long time. It has led some teams to make changes on taking risky players like Meyer has done in the past.

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio has done the same thing with players like Auston Robertson. Sometimes these players pan out and other times they get into more trouble.

Should Meyer be fired, though? That all remains to be seen. I would not be surprised he was fired or even if he comes back.

What about head coach Durkin? It depends upon what can be proven and who knew what and how they responded.

What does all this mean? There is a problem in college football and part of the problem is a reflection of the over all trouble in our culture with domestic violence as well as troubling aspects of the ‘win now’ culture that has been created with the influx of money college teams receive.

A head coach can be like a father figure to their players this is not necessarily true in every school, and often a coach can think that they can help a player get on the right track.

Legendary basketball coach John Thompson Jr. did this with a player like Allen Iverson at Georgetown with success. Norm Osborne took a chance on Lawerence Phillips in the 1990s, however, after an incident he was off the team.

There needs to be something more than just a plaque that states what core values are or famous sayings from former head coaches. Coaches must walk the walk and talk the talk. Even if Meyer is not found to have done anything wrong after the investigation, the fact that he lied to reporters should give pause. That in of itself is a reflection on him.

This also applies to coaches who have been in the news at MSU like Dantonio and Tom Izzo. As of right now, there has been no evidence shown of mishandling. However, if there is, then there’s no place for them in coaching at MSU.

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There is nothing new under sun. These are the same problems that have been occurring in college and professional sports for decades. You hate to see a coach lose their livelihood, yet if it comes at the expense of the victims then it justified and needed.