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Coaches Don't Pass Stress Test

Dec 31, 2009 – 10:00 AM
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Clay Travis

Clay Travis %BloggerTitle%

Urban MeyerCoaches aren't stressed. Any coach claiming that they are does a disservice to the term stress. You know why? When you're a multi-millionaire and you can quit your job whenever you want and never have to work again, you can't possibly be stressed.

At all.

Stress is being an 18-year-old private walking around Baghdad uncertain if the ground beneath your feet is going to explode at any moment, having to obey every order from a corporal, exercising zero control over your life, not sure which moment might be your last. It's not, you know, deciding whether to run Tim Tebow off left or right guard on third-and-two.

Stress is being a single parent and having a pair of sick children and no money for food, heat, or electricity. It's not trying to figure out whether to run the go-route with Riley Cooper or toss the underhanded shovel to tight end Aaron Hernandez. Stress is what the millions of people on earth who don't have enough food to eat go through every day.

Stress is not, and never will be, coaching a game for millions of dollars a year.

It's pretty instructive of how much perspective the sporting community has lost, that not one person has taken aim at the profound lack of stress in Urban Meyer's life. Ever since Urban Meyer went all Mitch Albom on us with his awful Sundays with Urban press conference, I've been waiting for someone to point out the obvious, you can't be a leader of men if you fail at the most fundamental objective of sports: teaching your team how to play a game without putting yourself in the hospital from taking that game too seriously.

But not one person has pointed that out.

That no matter how many games Urban Meyer has won, he's failed at his primary objective as the coach of any game, teaching his players that football doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It's an escape from what is serious in life, not the most serious thing in life.

That's why I've never liked Urban Meyer.

Not because he coaches at Florida -- I loved Steve Spurrier -- but because he strips all the joy from football. Turns a game into a hard job, makes football the equivalent of working on an assembly line. And in the biggest indictment of all, turned playing a game into a joyless existence.

Has Urban Meyer ever really looked like he enjoyed what he does?

I mean ever.

When someone succeeds in sports, we need the joy to be palpable. We want some evidence that the person who is succeeding has an understanding of how fortunate they are to have achieved the height of their profession.

That gee-whiz, I-can't-believe-I-get-paid-to-do-this smile, the humbleness, the self-reflection back to all the people who helped you get to where you've arrived.

Pete Carroll has it.

Steve Spurrier has it.

Bobby Bowden has it.

Joe Paterno has it.

Urban Meyer has never had it.

If you stop and think about it, just about every coach you've ever really liked, whether he coached your team or not, has it as well, an understanding of their own place in the sport and a conception of the world around them.

I don't want an absent chin, a steely gaze, and the sense that Urban Meyer clearly has, that everything happened because of him. An arrogance and megalomania so all-encompassing that one day he could decide his daughters needed their daddy back and the next day he could tell his family that wasn't going to happen as they boarded the airplane for the Sugar Bowl.

It's all about Urban, always has been, always will be.

Now the Sugar Bowl is not about his talented team or the first class of seniors he's ever recruited and seen through to their graduation. Hell, it's not even about Tim Tebow. We're days from the Sugar Bowl and not one person is even talking about it being Tebow's final game.

Nope, it's all Urban, all the time.

Out of many, Urban fashioned a team. But then out of many, once more, he made it all about him.

E pluribus Urban.

Success may require sacrifice, but it doesn't require you to be an arrogant jerk. And it doesn't require you to lose all sense of perspective about what you're doing while stripping away the joy from your profession. Some people work so hard at what they do for a living, because they love what they do, can't pull themselves away from their passion.

But there's another type of person, the kind of person who works so hard at what they do, not for love, but because they're so competitive they can't stand someone else outworking them. Even if that makes everyone around them miserable.

Urban Meyer is clearly that type of person, a man who would rather be miserable than lose a game.

We all know Urban Meyer's in our working lives, they're the people who make us hate our jobs, the jerks who are never happy, the guys or girls who will stay in their office one minute longer than everyone else just so they can gain some petty measure of satisfaction.


Because no matter what, they aren't happy and they're hell-bent on ensuring that others aren't happy as well. Filling up the vapid void in their own soul with the unhappy presence of others around them. It's people like these that made me hate practicing law.

Chances are, it's people like Urban Meyer who make you watch sports, to forget about the more serious things in your own life.

But now poor Urban, God bless his poor unfortunate soul, has finally had the "stress" catch up to him. Even though, you know, at any moment he could simply do us all a favor and quit coaching so someone else could take over. Someone who might, be still our beating hearts, actually enjoy what they do.

That's why I've got a suggestion for Urban Meyer. Instead of recharging your batteries via an indefinite leave of absence, how about you spend your sabbatical learning how little stress you actually have in his life compared to an awful lot of Americans?

Feed your family on minimum wage for a month.

Or, better yet, let's make him PFC Meyer and send him to Basra for the spring?

Maybe even switch him out with a private in Iraq and let that private handle spring practice duties at Florida -- the private can't be much worse than interim coach Steve Addazio. You think the private could handle dodging errant passes and Gatorade cups for a million dollars?

I think so.

You think he'd complain about the stress?

I think not.

The simple fact is, we ought to be insulted that Urban Meyer claims he's overstressed from coaching a game. The fact that an awful lot of Americans took Urban's stress at face value and didn't even consider how absurd it was, shows just how out of touch with the world the rest of us are.

Millions of people don't have enough food to eat every day. Urban Meyer gets paid $11,000 a day to out-recruit Mark Richt and Lane Kiffin.

Which stress would you rather have?

Clay Travis is the author of three books. His latest, "On Rocky Top: A Front Row Seat to The End of an Era" chronicles the 2008 Tennessee football season and is on sale now and makes a great stocking stuffer, assuming you like to stuff stockings year-round. We do.
Filed under: Sports