The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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Greed and College Football Programs – The Program playbook for stealing a recruit’s future
A conscience can be a very difficult thing to live with. A conscience properly molded can be a very valuable tool that some day may provide your student athlete with what is necessary to visit you in a nursing home, or to wheel you around in a wheel chair, or to care for your daily needs when you are no longer able. Leave molding that conscience to the vices of coaches and athletic departments and you may find yourself alone while watching televised pro football games wondering why your pro-athlete-son seldom if ever visits you.
Athletic departments are selling these programs in a way that is intellectually dishonest. The AD’s talk about toughness, motivation, goals, and building a foundation for the program; but nothing is said about how the coach demands the players be honest and that the program teach them to be good citizens. Notice how the AD for Auburn mentions nothing about the program or coach’s character for loyalty.
“Dec. 13, 2008
Gene Chizik, a former Auburn defensive coordinator and current head coach at Iowa State, has been named the head football coach at Auburn University, Athletics Director Jay Jacobs announced Saturday.
Chizik, who helped Auburn and Texas to consecutive undefeated seasons in 2004 and 2005, will be formally introduced as Auburn's 26th head coach at a press conference Monday.
Chizik, a 23-year coaching veteran, was Auburn's defensive coordinator from 2002-04, where he helped guide the Tigers to a 13-0 season in 2004 while earning the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach. He also served as the assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator at Texas from 2005-06 where he helped the Longhorns to a perfect season and national championship in 2005.
"I'm extremely proud and excited to have Gene returning to Auburn to take over as head football coach of this program," Jacobs said. "I know that we have found the right fit for Auburn. Gene's body of work during his 23 years in this profession is remarkable. He has a strong knowledge of this athletics program, this university and the community, and he knows how to be successful in the Southeastern Conference. He is a high-energy coach that is an outstanding motivator and demands a tough, physical style of football. I'm confident that Gene can build upon the foundation that has been established and make this a program that competes for championships on a consistent basis." “
ISU’s Coach Chizik is gone having moved onto greener pastures. Iowa needs now to learn from it’s own past mistakes of conscience. We should say good riddance and focus on what is important; rebuilding the meaning of what our word means.
“Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard confirmed Chizik's departure in a statement released late Saturday afternoon: "Gene Chizik confirmed for me that he has accepted the head coaching position at Auburn," Pollard said in the statement.”I'm disappointed for our Iowa State fans and student-athletes that he has chosen to leave our program after only two seasons. I understand that it (Auburn) is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing. Although this is a significant setback, we will get through the challenge because the Iowa State University Athletics program is far greater than one person."”
In the movie Jerry McGuire during contract negotiations a gifted football player, Rod Tidwell implores his agent to “show me the money”. While Tidwell catches passes and takes hits running pass patterns across the middle he knows what everyone else in football knows, that trying to hold onto those passes and your soul while maintaining any moral fiber at the center of your universe is hard to do when paychecks amount to millions.
And so goes Auburn’s football program, Gene Chizik and yes ISU. Chizik, Auburn and ISU know that the stories they told their young football recruits about team and the greater value of team sports amounts to empty promises and will go right out the window when the time comes to show us the money.
Parents know this: What they should be telling your talented football, basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, skier, snowboarder and others is that team loyalty to you and yours is for sale to the highest bidder.
What happened at ISU with Chizik is all too familiar. Two seasons ago the Iowa State football program wished to change its coaching staff. The program wasn’t doing badly, but some associated with the program hoped for more; simply stated more wins. Even though the State of Iowa through the Iowa State University Athletics Department had given their word and a gentleman’s handshake to Coach McCarney the booster dollars meant more. We all know they live by the code: When money talks, the coach walks. (Show me the money.)
This wasn’t always a common thread in Iowa athletics. Thirty years ago our word meant something; today our loyalty isn’t to a higher moral ground but to The Program. The Program has become the-all, the-everything, the-code-to-live-and-die-by. It appears that moral standards in Iowa have change in the past thirty years from being a moral promise to people into a verbal somewhat of a promise to a sport program. We now live by standards where past and apparently acceptable community standards allow state run sport programs to go back on their written word. Words put into contracts that allow the program to terminate the contract when well-heeled boosters want change which requires the Program to show the coach the door.
Here is the fan’s point of view. Just two seasons ago Chizik gave us his word to build the program and now he’s going back on his word. Chizik is a bum because he hasn’t rebuilt the program, suddenly and without sufficient notice he’s walking out on his players and selling out the program for more money.
Here is the history lesson: Isn’t that what The Program did to McCarney?
I don’t see how we can point the accusatory finger when ISU isn’t any better than Auburn. They did what ISU did; with the exception they were dumb enough to hire a 5 and 19 coach whose pledge of loyalty is no better than a wet paper towel.
Coaches sell their program to the parents of young recruits by promising parents they will mold the child athlete into a good and moral citizen. I wasn’t aware that good moral citizenship allowed lying and selling out to the highest bidder. Since leaving local community soccer I must have missed something. When did the rules change? I thought coaches were supposed to set a good and high moral example; one that players could learn from and to live by.
“Dec. 17, 2008
AUBURN - Auburn football has signed Nick Fairley to a National Letter of Intent during the JUCO signing period, announced head coach Gene Chizik Wednesday.
Fairley is a 6-4, 295-pound defensive lineman who played at Copiah-Lincoln CC in Wesson, Miss. He will have three years of eligibility remaining at Auburn.
As a redshirt freshman in 2008, Fairley was an All-Region XII selection in the state of Mississippi after recording 63 tackles, including nine for loss and seven quarterback sacks in seven contests.
A native of Mobile, Ala., Fairley attended high school at Lillie B. Williamson where he was named to the 5A All-State team by the Alabama Sports Writers Association as a senior in 2006. He was a 5A Lineman of the Year finalist as a senior, while grading out at 97 percent on the offensive line. He also caught five passes for 150 yards as a tight end and had over 90 tackles on defense.
Fairley's complete bio is below:
DL, 6-4, 295
Mobile, AL (Lillie B. Williamson) “
And what about those recruits? Hopefully the promises made to Mr. Fairley and his parents will on paper stronger than a soggy paper towel.
Some Iowans are asking what Auburn is doing with raiding other programs and where is the NCAA with rules and regulations that stop larger programs from poaching medium sized programs and medium sized programs poaching small colleges and universities? Competition is good but when good citizenship is a lower priority than show me the money, there is too high a cost. The foundation of high moral character, loyalty and living a respectful life is truth. You build a program on truth not on showing me the money.
Dave Dutton a lawyer in Waterloo once said to me, “Remember, if you live by the sword then be ready to die by the sword.” Dave’s father, being a minister in Colfax, Iowa he grew up sitting through many a sermon. His closing arguments were peppered with Biblical quotes. One in particular that he used with limited success in Sioux County talked about one party yelling about the splinter in the opposing person’s eye in order to distract the jury from the log sticking out of their own. ISU is living by the sword, where its lawyers have become more important than the intended meaning of its word. ISU can’t blame Auburn for doing what it also does to smaller schools. If the end justifies the means in Iowa then it does at Auburn too.
The ISU athletic department and boosters are doing just that; screaming about the splinter in Auburn’s eye because of the log sticking out of its own. Remember what goes around comes around and what you did with McCarney hasn’t been forgotten.
Coach Chizik you don’t get off without a scolding from me. You sat in living rooms recruiting young athletes to a program in which your loyalty could certainly be questioned. Some parents might even be heard to claim they were lied to. That’s just my guess but hearing players after you announced leaving makes this a pretty safe bet. What we need to know is the timetable of when you started thinking of applying to the Auburn job in relation to recruiting, and team meetings while promoting team spirit and loyalty.
My word is my bond; stronger than oak vs. my word is my word today, strong as a hedge fund monthly statement of account.
"Through my travels in coaching over the last 23 years, there's one place that I've always wanted to return to and that is Auburn," Chizik said. "The tradition of the Auburn football program combined with the passionate fans and their love for Auburn are second to none. My family and I are Auburn through and through, and look forward to being part of the Auburn family and community."
"I am dedicated to working tirelessly to win championships," Chizik said. "We will not be outworked in any facet of the building process. I'm excited to get on the recruiting trail, meeting with the current players and reconnecting with past players. We want to develop young men into champions not only on the playing field, but in the classroom and in the community."
During his two seasons at Iowa State, the 46-year old Chizik was in the midst of a rebuilding process, directing the Cyclones to a 5-19 mark. The Iowa State administration rewarded Chizik's leadership and vision for the program by offering him a two-year contract extension following this season.
What did Dan McCarney do that was so bad that Iowan’s would ask him to step aside? I met McCarney one night at Flemmings in West Des Moines. Barbara and I asked the waitress to offer to his table dessert on us. He came to our table to thank us, declined the extra calories then sat down with us and after he left all I could think of was what a decent guy he is. Read below the ISU site press release because today it’s a good lesson for us all to remember. Like Lucy we Iowans have some splaining to do.
“AMES, Iowa – Dan McCarney, the longest-tenured and winningest coach in Iowa StateCategory: Keyword Search: sports