Miami University is called “The Cradle of Coaches,” a nickname the university wears around its neck as a symbol of pride and accomplishment for its athletic teams, but especially football.
Penn State is referred to as “Linebacker U” and has had Head Coach Joe Paterno at the helm for 42 years, longer than some of our parents have been alive. Florida State has Bobby Bowden, who has been the head coach since 1976. And Miami has “The Cradle of Coaches.” How proud should we really be of this?
We got our hands on Ara Parseghian, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler before they went onto bigger and better football programs. Yet, when 99 percent of the population hear the names Parseghian, Hayes and Schembechler they think of University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University and University of Michigan respectively.
It’s not like Miami doesn’t know how to keep coaches. Miami just recently showed its commitment to the hockey program, locking up Head Coach Enrico Blasi until 2016-17. Blasi has been the coach for the past nine years. On the basketball side, Miami has stuck with Coach Charlie Coles since 1996.
For some reason, when it comes to the football program, we are happy, even proud to watch coaches blossom at another university. How much different would Miami be right now if Woody Hayes or Bo Schembechler had decided to stay here instead of jolting for the bright lights of the Big Ten?
Miami may not have the rich football tradition of an Ohio State, Michigan or Notre Dame, but that has not stopped other schools from building solid football programs. How many people knew the University of South Florida was in Tampa Bay until this season? The Bulls didn’t even have a football program until 1996. In 1997 they played in Division I-AA, finally moving into I-A in 2001. This season, USF Head Coach Jim Leavitt had the Bulls ranked all the way to No. 2 in the BCS, and in position for a possible shot at the National Championship. Had Leavitt chosen to leave South Florida and lead the University of Florida or the University of Miami to that No. 2 ranking, who knows where the USF would be, but probably not their current No. 19 BCS ranking?
Miami has been a breeding ground for great college coaches, but as soon as those coaches find their legs, they use them to run as far away from Oxford, as fast as they can.
It’s like taking the shy quiet girl to prom only to have her leave you stranded on the dance floor once she realizes that other guys find her attractive. Thanks for the ride, but I’ll find another way home. At the reunions, no one is going to remember that you are the one who took her to the dance; they will only remember who took her home.
This is not to say that we as RedHawks should not be proud of the coaches who have come through Oxford. But we need to keep it in perspective. These coaches didn’t lead us to any National Championships; they led other teams to them. It is important for us to remember those great coaches, but let’s not be overly proud of it. The next time a coach with great potential rolls into Yager Stadium, let’s keep him here and stake out a legacy with him. Let’s remember the past, but not be proud of being left at the alter.