Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Running up the score

Although I am a Green Bay Packers fan, I am also a fan of Bill Belichick. I think he might be the greatest NFL coach ever, and I think his team has a very good chance to go 19-0 this year. Not only do I not see any problem with his team running up the score against opponents, I think its actually the right thing to do. The players are professionals, being paid to do a job. The offense's job is to score points and the defense's job is to prevent opponents from scoring points. If the offense is on the field and not trying to score, they are not doing their job, and if a coach is not calling plays that will help them score, then that coach is not doing his job.
The same issue arose in college football this weekend, in an incident that got national attention when Wyoming coach Joe Glenn "flipped the bird" toward the Utah team after the Utes attempted an onside kick while ahead 43-0. Glenn was reprimanded by the Mountain West Conference on Monday, and rightly so. We hear enough stories about bad sportsmanship, trash talking, and on-field brawls, that a head coach should know better than to behave like this. If a head coach, a professional, an adult with years of experience, behaves like this, what can we expect from the unpaid 19- and 20-year-olds playing the game?
The only thing in this incident that I disagree with, is Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's later comment that the onside kick with a 43-0 lead was a "bad decision." Winning is never a bad decision, and neither is winning big. Utah was not playing a "warm-up" game against a I-AA opponent, this was a conference game. Whittingham should not apologize for his team's ability to score; if anything, Glenn and the Wyoming team should apologize for their poor performance on the field.
As a Kentucky fan, I have been on the wrong side of a blowout game many times. While its certainly no fun, every time I see my team lose badly, I know that it's not the fault of Steve Spurrier, Tim Tebow, Les Miles, or any other opposing player or coach. They did their job; it was my team that wasn't able or prepared to compete. The right response is not for the loser to blame the winner, but for them to make changes and adjustments so that the next time the teams meet the tables are turned. That's exactly what Bill Belichick did after losing to the Colts last winter, and that's why he is such a great coach.

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