In Kansas, Turner Gill Becomes the Wizard of Odd
The "no women after 10 p.m." rule is one of first-year head coach Turner Gill's rules for the Kansas football team. The rule isn't just for public interaction, you also violate it if you're in the presence of a woman at her place or yours. While Gill has acknowledged that proving a violation is difficult, according to KUSports.com, "he (Gill) explained the penalty would be more severe if a KU player was involved with an incident and it was discovered that the player had broken the policy."
What if the player isn't doing anything at all but hanging out with a member of the opposite sex? And 10 at night? Ten? Coaches are fond of saying nothing good happens after midnight -- which is completely wrong, by the way. Expanding that cliche to encompass nothing good happening before the nightly news is over? Most nursing home residents are living scandalous lifestyles compared to the antediluvian restrictions that Gill is foisting upon his players.
Is Gill aware coed dorms exist? What happens then? Do players have to show up every morning at five to run wind sprints as penance for having the temerity to live in the same building with unmarried women? Already, despite the opposite-sex prohibitions, Kansas has lost to North Dakota State in its home opener. Can you imagine how badly the Jayhawks might have lost to North Dakota State if players had been allowed to speak with women after 10?
I can, it might have been 9-3 instead of 6-3.
In order to pull off this road win and counteract the female prohibition at Kansas, North Dakota State's entire team must have pledged to be celibate for the rest of their lives. A small price to pay for a Saturday win.
Turner Gill's expansive directives aimed at controlling his players every waking moment are the latest examples of football coaches becoming more and more like totalitarian dictators each year. Freedom of communication grows for college students? Football coaches push back in the opposite direction, limiting those freedoms in a misguided attempt to tighten the reins of program discipline. Facebook? Some coaches are banning it. Twitter? Boise State's Chris Petersen began the banning rush in the offseason. Now, Kansas doesn't want its football players around women at night. What's next, players not allowed to have cell phones?
Kansas players can't do that either, not in the 24 hours leading up to a game, anyway. That's because the Kansas coaching staff confiscates the players' cell phones and won't return them until after the game. I'm not making this up. They actually take the phones. A parent or family member needing to reach your child in the event of emergency? You call the director of football operations.
Keep in mind, these are grown-ass men. Not seventh graders. Not adolescents. Grown men who could serve their country overseas, grown men who may be parents themselves, grown men who are being treated like infants unable to make their own decisions and handle their own priorities. How can you expect a college student to behave like a man when you insist on treating him like a child? As countless parents have already learned, stifling personal freedom doesn't lead to growth, it leads to greater dependence.
Football coaches want their players to be gridiron monks, the Dalia Lama with a 425-pound bench press. They want automatons walled off from the rest of the world who believe that the full import of their lives begins and ends in the 60 minutes they spend each week on the football field. But in today's era doesn't that control defeat the entire purpose of attending college? If, as the NCAA constantly argues -- most of our athletes are going pro in something other than sports -- then how does it help athletes to wall them off from the surrounding community of students?
Nor does this even consider the legalities at play here. Can a coach even have a written rule that would limit contact with women after 10 at night? Can a coach demand that a player relinquish his physical property for a period of time if that player doesn't want to? As a lawyer, I don't think so. If a player challenged these rules, I think he'd be able to prove that they were beyond the scope of his scholarship acceptance.
Indeed, it's a true shame that Kansas' faculty has allowed restrictions like these to take root for any students, regardless of who they are or what group they're associated with. Imagine if, for instance, a student association on campus had a written policy that all members, under threat of penalty, could not speak to members of the opposite sex on campus after 10 at night. Would that pass without faculty comment? I doubt it.
Restrictions like these represent the antithesis of what collegiate life is supposed to entail. Most students learn more from each other than they ever do from their books. Most men learn more about women in college than they've ever learned before. Indeed, by restricting student interaction with the opposite sex to limited hours, Gill is sending the message to his team that women are the enemy, modern day Bathshebas, existing only to tempt and lead them astray from their true purpose on the campus.
Which is to play football games.
And that's ultimately the real issue here, all of these restrictions strip away the fig leaf of academia, that these players are regular students who just happen to play sports. The reality is something much different of course, these are football players who just happen to be students. By placing these restrictions on his players Gill proves that even as a 48-year-old coach he still hasn't learned the most important lesson a football player can learn.
There is life outside of football.
Follow Clay Travis on Twitter here. With All That and a Bag of Mail returning for the football season, you can e-mail him questions at Clay.Travis@gmail.com