Heart attacks can happen to anyone. Young, old. Physically fit, physically decrepit. That's why our thoughts and prayers should rightfully go to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.
But the idea that coaches face any more stress than the rest of us is laughable. If anything, coaches should be healthier than the general public. They control their hours. They are around trainers, doctors and elite athletes all day. There is a weight room right around the corner. Sure Dick Vermeil coined the term "burn out" but most of us don’t' have the luxury of quitting our jobs, doing TV for 16 years and getting into wine collecting.
Take a moment and think about the poor slob, trying to make the mortgage and putting two kids through college. He's burned out every day. He doesn't get a trip to Hawaii from Nike in the offseason. Heck, he doesn't have an offseason. So let's not go nuts here. There are some coaches, Steve Spurrier and Bob Stoops among them, who don't believe that more is better.
Dantonio's heart attack spurred a rash of cliché coaches-need-to-take-care-of-themse
lves stories this week. Thankfully, in general, most coaches responded the same way as Michigan's Rich Rodriguez.
"There are a lot of stressful jobs out there," he said.
**On June 11, Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and AD Tom Osborne stood before the Nebraska board of regents and ranted.
"One school leaving a conference does not break up a conference. Two schools leaving a conference does not break up a conference," Osborne said. "Six schools leaving a conference, breaks up a conference. We have not had a hidden agenda, we have not dealt with more than one conference."
They were talking about Texas. It was half theater (the board voted unanimously for Nebraska to join the Big Ten) and half political. In that same meeting, Perlman added that his school didn't owe the Big 12 a dime for leaving the conference. Remember, this was in the middle of the Pac-10's failed raid on half of the Big 12.
From a legal standpoint, Nebraska wanted to position itself as having been pushed out of the Big 12 because of the wandering eyes of Texas and the five other schools pursued by the Pac-10. Colorado and Nebraska left the Big 12 on consecutive days. The next order of business was determining how much each school owed the Big 12 for departing. League bylaws state that a school that gives only one year's notice, it must sacrifice 80 percent of its conference revenue share.
Perlman knew there would probably come a day when his school would negotiate some sort of exit fee. When it did, Perlman wanted to save as much money as possible. He was already on record as saying his team was forced out. Nebraska no doubt would have cited Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's assertion, on the day Nebraska left for the Big Ten, that the Big 12 would be better off with 10 teams. The Big 12's case would have been bolstered by a report that Nebraska had been sending feelers to the Big Ten since January.
Faced with the prospect of a protracted court battle, what happened Tuesday was a mutually negotiated divorce. A mediator was brought in work with Colorado, Nebraska and the Big 12 over a two-day period, according to the Boulder (Colo.) Camera. As late as Saturday Colorado apparently still hadn't taken advantage of a standing Pac-10 offer to "finance" the Big 12 buyout by withholding future Pac-10 revenues. The Pac-10 had offered up to a $10 million loan to help CU with the exit fees, the Camera reported.
The Big 12 settled for only half of the money owed it when Nebraska agreed to pay the league $9.2 million. Colorado paid less, only $6.9 million, because it had said all along it was joining the Pac-10 in 2012. Plus, its revenue take in the Big 12 was less than Nebraska's.
Remember this when you next read about buyout clauses and exit fees. They mean little. They are meant to compensate current members, not keep schools in a league. If a school really wants to leave, it will leave. Everything can be negotiated. If it isn't, there's always court.
**The news last week that Penn State is adding hockey had an interesting Notre Dame twist.
With Penn State there are now six Big Ten teams that sponsor men's hockey, the NCAA minimum. Commissioner Jim Delany has been enthusiastic about forming a Big Ten hockey league. The other five Big Ten hockey members compete in NCAA power conferences -- Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State in the CCHA; Wisconsin and Minnesota in the WCHA.
Notre Dame also competes in the CCHA. The hockey Irish might have no choice but to join the Big Ten in hockey if Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State decide to leave the CCHA. In essence, it would be the hockey version of the recent college football realignment. Would Notre Dame playing Big Ten hockey be part of a larger move for all of the Irish's sports? The school already plays in three other leagues (Big East, CCHA and Midwest Fencing Conference) for its other sports.
**How underachieving has Florida's offense been to this point? Mississippi State, which threw five interceptions against LSU, is ranked significantly higher (No. 70) than the Gators (92nd) in total offense. Only five other BCS conference schools average fewer yards than Florida -- UCLA, Kansas, Vanderbilt, Oregon State and Maryland. That's after the Gators have played Miami (Ohio), South Florida and Tennessee.
**So much for losing nine defensive starters. Alabama is back in the top 10 (ninth) in total defense.