Sometimes humans behave badly, and sometimes those humans are major college coaches.
As the Arkansas coach, Bobby Petrino lied to his employer about the circumstances involving his motorcycle crash. Petrino wasn’t alone on the Harley, as he originally declared, but with a former Razorbacks women’s volleyball player and university employee.
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Mike Price had been Alabama’s coach for a few months when he got stupid drunk and visited a strip club after attending a golf tournament for boosters.
Iowa State basketball coach Larry Eustachy admitted to a drinking problem when photos of him partying with students surfaced.
All of the coaches were promptly and rightfully dismissed.
Carl Pelini joined the list on Wednesday.
Florida Atlantic asked for and received the immediate resignation of Pelini, the head coach, and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis for illegal drug use.
As you might imagine for an in-season coach-axing, the circumstances are unusual. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the school was alerted to the situation on Monday when athletic director Pat Chun was approached by two whistleblowers who claimed evidence of the drug use.
Chun and an assistant athletic director investigated, uncovered the evidence and were prepared to fire both coaches with cause. Police were brought in to escort the coaches from the building, not the kind of scene expected during mid-week game prep.
Pelini, 48, was in his second season at Florida Atlantic, an ambitious program headed by Howard Schnellenberger at its inception in 2001. This season the Owls, 2-6, had jumped to Conference USA from the Sun Belt.
And Pelini also had moved up the ranks. He has plenty of Kansas City area ties, from serving as a graduate assistant on Bill Snyder’s first Kansas State staff in 1989, to Blue Valley High assistant to Winnetonka High head coach and athletic director and eventually to Nebraska, where he served as defensive coordinator under his brother, Bo.
Now Carl Pelini is out of work, and rightfully so. Not only because he violated the terms of his contract, but because he violated the trust of those he coached.
Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, referred me his group’s Code of Ethics.
“Article 2, Section 2 states that a coach should conduct himself so as to maintain the principles, integrity and dignity of his institution,” Teaff wrote in an email. “The second article which I think applies and is very important is Article 8, Section 1. It states that it’s vitally important that a coach’s actions and behavior at all times bring credit to himself, his institution and the game of football.”
Pelini failed here, as did the coaches before him, and programs were damaged. Petrino, fired in spring, 2012, was the most recent example, and Arkansas’ 0-5 Southeastern Conference record in Bret Bielema’s first year indicates the program still battling to recover.
We can debate coaches’ salaries — the average for the 125 or so Division I head coaches in 2012 was $1.64 million, and Pelini was making $500,000 annually — ridiculously overpriced or fair market value for a sport with soaring popularity?
But the John Kennedy quote based on Luke 12:48 best applies “… of those to whom much is given, much is required.”
Florida Atlantic required better behavior from Pelini and Rekstis, and they didn’t deliver.