10/11/04 — OPINION -- Losing to an archrival makes a coach bad?

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OPINION -- Losing to an archrival makes a coach bad?

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 11, 2004 1:55 PM

When it comes to winning and losing, why should a rivalry game -- one game -- decide a coach's future?

If University A doesn't defeat archrival University B on a yearly basis, fans and alumi immediately begin a witch hunt. They're not satisfied until pressure is put on the coach to win. If he doesn't, they continue their quest in seeking a resignation or termination.

Have we gotten that shallow in collegiate athletics?

Oh yeah.

While watching Texas and Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon, the announcers couldn't help but talk about the failure that Texas coach Mack Brown has encountered against the Sooners' Bob Stoops. Oklahoma has dominated the recent series involving two of the nation's most-storied programs, but the fans forget that Brown's program ranks the among the top five for most wins in the last five years.

However, for some reason, Brown's current five-game losing against Stoops raises questions about his ability to coach.

The Longhorns have won 10 or more games each of the past three seasons and nine or more in at least the previous five seasons during Brown's tenure. Texas has played for a Big 12 championship and come close to playing for the national title as well. Still, the fans base Brown's success on beating Oklahoma, beating the rival Texas schools and staying in the hunt for a BCS game.

If he doesn't do it, then he has to go.

I say absolutely not.

A coach's success should not be based on wins and losses -- at least, not key wins and losses. We, as fans, have the tendency to forget that coaches are human. They make mistakes like anyone else and they hold themselves accountable. Do you seriously think a coach doesn't feel bad when his team loses? Do you think he's not in the locker room consoling those players and reminding them it's just a game?

It's not life or death, but our judgment becomes clouded in these situations.

We think because these young athletes put on the uniform that their first priority is to win the game. Sure they think about it, but they have to handle the anxiety and pressure of the game, not to mention accomplishing all the little things that lead to a win.

When these kids step onto the field, we fans should accept that they're not going to win every time they play a game. At times, they're going to compete against a bigger, better, stronger, faster and more talented team and probably falter. When that happens, they will undoubtedly take the lessons learned from the loss and apply them in practice until the next game.

We should do the same.

We should realize that these players are representing the university in the best manner possible. We should understand that no matter the outcome, these athletes played hard and gave 100 percent on every play. They don't deserve to get booed or verbally ridiculed if something goes wrong.

Everyone has a bad day.

Somewhere down the line we forget these athletes are in college for an education -- first. Coaches, like they are on any level, are teachers. The fields and courts are venues for teaching the fundamentals of life -- responsibility, trust, teamwork, communication, respect and loyalty. These athletes need those values to survive in the real world -- not when they put on the uniform to play a Saturday afternoon football game.

After all, some of these athletes might return to their respective high schools as teachers and/or coaches. They'll offer their knowledge to your children in hopes of instilling the aforementioned values that we sometimes forget are important in today's society.

Let's hope someone learns a lesson somewhere.