Loyalty

It’s a word that gets thrown around all the time in sports but other than rhetorically, is in short supply, except among fans.

When Bill O’Brien took over the smoldering wreckage that was the Penn State football program two years ago, he said he was in it for the long haul, there to see through the rebuilding of a once proud program.

As Adam Spolane, of Houston’s Sports Radio 610 points out, O’Brien had a lot of work to do to convince players in Happy Valley to stick around. Because of the four year bowl ban, the NCAA made an exception to its usual transfer rules. Players could leave Penn State without having to sit out a year.

So, naturally, two years into his stint at Penn State, O’Brien appears poised to leave his position for a lucrative NFL offer with the Houston Texans. It’s a free country, as they say, so O’Brien can do what he wants. But it’s just one more example of a coach talking up loyalty and character and commitment to something larger than yourself who, when push comes to shove, appears motivated by one thing and one thing only – personal advancement. That wouldn’t be so irksome if these same coaches didn’t complain with such self-pitying sanctimony about the supposed “epidemic” of transfers among college basketball and football players. Those NCAA transfer rules – requiring that players sit out a year after transfer – are frankly outrageous. They only apply to athletes in certain sports – Division I baseball, football and basketball (men and women) and men’s hockey and put those players in a different category than every other college athlete as well as every other college student.

Leaving aside the fact that athletes appear to transfer schools at much lower rates than students in general, until the first coach forces himself to sit out a year if he leaves a school after he promised a fresh batch of recruits that he’d be at the school as long they are, coaches should should just shut up about the “problem” of transfers.

 

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