Home
Loading
  Contact Us    
Gravitating to Mediocrity

Firing Coach Solich.

by Barnabas
December 3, 2003

Bookmark and Share


Gravitating to Mediocrity_Barnabas-Firing Coach Solich
LINCOLN - With roughly a dozen football players glaring in the back of the room, Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson said he fired Frank Solich because the once-mighty program had tumbled in his six-year watch.

"I refuse to let this program gravitate to mediocrity," Pederson said Sunday, 17 hours after he met with Solich at South Stadium and terminated a coach who had compiled a 58-19 record. "We will not surrender the Big 12 Conference to Oklahoma and Texas."

— Elizabeth Merrill, Omaha World-Herald, December 1

hu·bris (hyü-br&s) noun
Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance.
— Microsoft Dictionary
The story itself doesn’t have much interest to anyone but Nebraska fans and Monday morning quarterbacks who follow whatever football news comes down the pike, so I won’t retell it. Football coaches get fired and replaced in a game of musical chairs, and at a pretty high level of compensation at that; it’s not unusual for the head coach of the state university team to be the highest-paid person on the state’s payroll.

Besides, I have zero qualification to second-guess the strategic implications of this particular decision for Nebraska football. But my bag is absurdity and ethics, and I find my occasions to write about them wherever I can. In this case it is not the firing itself, but the remarkable speech given by the Nebraska Athletic Director following it. According to the news accounts he managed to trash, not only Coach Solich (whose .753 win-loss record is, statistically speaking, an impossible dream for most coaches), but also the current Nebraska team with its 9-3 record, the Big 12 Conference, and Division One football in general. He managed to sound as though Nebraska has a right to be dominant, and always in contention for the national championship. That attitude is the stuff of which Greek tragedy is made. The most anyone can have is a hope that rises to a modest expectation. Nobody has the right.

So there’s more than one way to gravitate to mediocrity. Pederson spoke of one, slippage, but he illustrated another, called bluster. Bluster here is the error of declaring a fallacious assumption: When we do our very best, we are better than all but a very few. It’s a fallacy because you do not control what your competition can and will do to get an edge. You may set victory as the only acceptable goal, without bluster, only when you are competing against yourself and have control over all the factors in the competition. It’s the nature of team competition that you do not control all the factors. Blusterers in any field of endeavor inevitably set themselves up to lose because they presume to control the uncontrollable. Maybe underdogs are called that because they’re perfectly positioned to bite blusterers in the behind.

Back in the seventies, when most bowls were by invitation, the number one team refused to risk its standing by meeting Nebraska in a New Year’s bowl and played a lesser opponent that they were confident of beating. Notre Dame — always respectable, though not always in contention — accepted the bid and lost decisively to Nebraska. The Notre Dame coach, the legendary Ara Parseghian, said: “At least we met the competition.”

Of course you compete with everything you’ve got, with the best preparation you know how to make, with every intention of winning—but you had better respect your opponent as someone willing to “meet the competition.”

If bluster were limited to football, I would leave it to the sports pages. But bluster is everywhere — in church, in business, in government, in education — boosting unrealistic goals based on faulty premises.

(0 Comments)
Post a Comment

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*


Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Location:


Comments:*
Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.



Verification:
Please type the letters you see above.

  Printer-Friendly

Bookmark and Share


EMAIL ALERTS
Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
Gravitating to Mediocrity
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by Barnabas
Barnabas Says Goodbye
Moving on, not moving out.
by Barnabas, 1/19/05
Seats on the Fifty-Yard Line
Yet another American value.
by Barnabas, 1/12/05
Ethical Endgame
When children become sexual slaves.
by Barnabas, 12/15/04
Eighteen Years on Death Row
We have redefined 'speedy trial' and 'cruel and unusual.'
by Barnabas, 12/8/04
Hard on Drugs, Soft in the Head
Legalizing marijuana.
by Barnabas, 12/1/04
Wesley and Wal-Mart
Destructive competition as a stinky enterprise.
by Barnabas, 11/24/04
The Mandate to Govern
Third party time.
by Barnabas, 11/17/04
» Complete List (137)


Recently Published
View Article A Prayer for King-size Prophets
Honoring MLK Day with a new hymn text
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 1/12/18
A New Years Prayer
Asking God for divine help as we begin a new year
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 1/5/18
Basking in the Glow
Take time to reflect on the meaning of Christmas
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/29/17
Joseph, Did You Know?
Posing questions to the earthly father of Jesus
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/22/17
May I Be Frank, Mr. President?
Challenging a double standard in the Oval Office
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/15/17
Salvator Mundi
Not the painting but the Person
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/7/17
When the Newsman Becomes News
Lamenting yet another fallen hero
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 12/1/17

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.


RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?

Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2018 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top