National Columnist

There's no crying in football -- unless you're a coach


Akron's Rob Ianello and Ohio State's Luke Fickell chat. After the game, Ianello was unhappy. (US Presswire)  
Akron's Rob Ianello and Ohio State's Luke Fickell chat. After the game, Ianello was unhappy. (US Presswire)  

The thing is, I was there for Akron-Ohio State. I was there for this 42-0 beatdown, but my mistake was going to the winning locker room. Had I known what Akron coach Rob Ianello had done immediately after the game, I would have hightailed it to the Zips' locker room and asked the question I'm now dying to know:

Where were you hiding your pacifier during the game, Coach Ianello?

You big baby.

Lots of these guys are babies, of course. It shouldn't be such a shock to my system every time another football coach gives us a peek under the façade and reveals his diapers. But it is. It's a shock, maybe because they're such hypocrites. Football coaches act like they're the toughest people around -- jaws of granite, eyes of steel, mannerisms of macho.

And then something like this happens. A coach loses a game, and out comes the pacifier. Wah! The other team scored too much! The other team tried too hard! The other football team, get this, kept playing football until the final horn!

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This isn't about Ianello as much as it's about all these football babies. But Ianello, bless him, started this season off with a tantrum that allows me to address the issue and even offer advice to any future coaches -- jaws of granite, eyes of steel, underwear of Huggies -- who get tempted to whine about a loss. Kind of like Ianello whined after that 42-0 loss, when he sulked across the field of Ohio Stadium, met Ohio State coach Luke Fickell and told him, "I don't think that's real good sportsmanship but good luck the rest of the year."

Nice passive-aggressive pout there. Ianello couldn't even whine like an adult.

What was his problem? Honestly, I have no idea. The ESPN announcers at the game thought they had an inkling to the insult -- here's the video clip -- as it was happening, noting that Ohio State was allowing tailback Carlos Hyde to go for the 100-yard plateau. As if that's some major insult or something. And as if there weren't mitigating factors even if it was some major insult. Which it is not.

But the mitigating factors are these: Ohio State has five game-ready tailbacks on the roster, a normal amount. Three of them weren't able to play Saturday, two because of suspension and a third because of injury. That left Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith as the only two available. Hyde finished with 19 carries for 93 yards. Smith had 18 for 74. Before Hyde got the last three carries of the game, Smith had received the previous 11 carries. It was the end of a three-hour game on a day when the field temperature hit 120 degrees and a referee was sidelined from heat dehydration.

Is it OK, Coach Ianello, if Rod Smith gets a break?

This stuff is infuriating because these coaches act so big and bad until it's time to show their baby-soft rear end, and again, this isn't directed merely at Rob Ianello. It's directed at Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, who has twice made a scene after a game because the other coach was a big fat meanie. Once was an exhibition in August when Haley didn't appreciate Ravens coach John Harbaugh letting his deep reserves play actual football -- and score -- in the final seconds. The other was last year against the Broncos, when Haley scolded victorious Denver coach Josh McDaniels rather than shake his hand.

Pete Carroll, operating a semi-pro team at Southern California, didn't like it when the amateurs at Stanford stuck it to him in 2009, so he whined at Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh, "What's your deal?" Harbaugh liked the moment so much, he made it his team's slogan. When he was an assistant at Nebraska, Bo Pelini ran down Kansas State coach Bill Snyder to whine about a 38-9 loss in Lincoln. Minnesota's Tim Brewster got fussy with Wisconsin's Bret Bielema after a big loss. So did Rutgers' Doug Graber with Joe Paterno after Penn State had the audacity to call a play from its playbook with the score 52-34. That was 1995. Here it is. And lots of fans -- lots of you -- think these coaches aren't babies. You think they're right.

And there are times, yes, when a football coach can become a classless jerk. One time was in 2007 when Rutgers from the BCS was playing Norfolk State from whatever they call Division I-AA, and Rutgers was winning 45-0 late in the first half when coach Greg Schiano called timeouts to stop the clock and get the ball one more time before the break.

That's classless.

But most of the time there's a reason for whatever you saw late in the game. Fickell didn't have any other running backs at Ohio State. Harbaugh and the Ravens were giving hard-working practice players a chance to play in the game. When Oklahoma's Barry Switzer was accused of running up the score in the 1970s against Big 8 losers, he was putting his fourth-stringers onto the field. If the other team couldn't stop Oklahoma's worst players, whose fault was that? Switzer's?

Back to Ianello, who didn't respond to my interview request Monday but did address the issue on the weekly MAC teleconference, saying: "Luke and I spoke before and after the game, and I would prefer to keep the topic of those discussions between he and I."

So allow me to expand on the situation. Ohio State had the ball inside the Akron 20 for the final 2½ minutes on Saturday, and Fickell gave it to his fourth-string tailback three straight times to run out the clock.

And that's not enough, Rob Ianello? You don't think that's real good sportsmanship? Tell you what, Rob. Your team plays Temple and Cincinnati in the next two weeks. Temple won 42-7 on Saturday. Cincinnati won 72-10.

Since you're so easily offended, maybe you shouldn't show up at all.

But good luck the rest of the year.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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