Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In The Nick Of Tide

The college football world is reeling. In the past several weeks, there have been voluntary and not so voluntary changes in the head coaches of some legendary programs. The latest bombshell came last night when Tennessee coach, Lane Kiffin, abruptly left Knoxville for USC after only one season... and faced an angry mob of students in the process. This week, as we have studied the Sermon on the Mount, we saw how Jesus taught we should be so honest we should not have to take oaths. Is a contract an oath or just an agreement to stay together for a little while? The following is from January 3, 2007 and it should be noted that last week, Nick Saban, who is discussed below, led his team at Alabama to the national championship.

Nick Saban got a new job today. This morning, it was announced that Saban had agreed to become the football coach at the University of Alabama, replacing the recently fired Mike Shula. The new leader of the Crimson Tide will be paid $32 million over eight years. There was one inconvenient sidelight to the story: Nick Saban was already under contract to coach the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League for several more years. The Dolphins' owner, Wayne Huizenga, seemed to bear no hard feelings towards his former coach and it seems to be an amicable breakup. Others were not so charitable. In his column this afternoon on, Pat Forde ripped Saban specifically and college football coaches in general for their lack of integrity. Forde suggested changing the name of the American Football Coaches Association to the Liar's Club. Acknowledging that his charges did not refer to all in the profession, Forde cited numerous recent examples in which high profile coaches swore they were not leaving for a higher paying job...and then did. Saban, who left Louisiana State University to coach the Dolphins, repeatedly and vehemently denied on camera that he was at all interested in moving to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In Forde's opinion, every word that comes from the mouth of these coaches is suspect and it is a mistake to call them men of character. How can high school players trust anything the recruiters say when they have such a poor track record? Of course, if a college player wants to change schools, he is penalized and must sit out a year. There is no such sanction against their coaches. Does anybody remember when a contract was something to honor? Look, no one begrudges a coach, or anyone for that matter, making the best possible financial deal for his family. But is it too much to ask to interject a little honesty into the equation?

Fibbing for financial gain is not new. As long as there have been riches, there has been the desire for even more riches, even among the Godly. In Genesis 27, Jacob, at the suggestion of his mother, tricked his blind father, Isaac, into making him the number one son in the family. The ruse required that Jacob disguise himself and blatantly lie to his dad. The hoax succeeded in elevating Jacob, whose name happened to mean deceiver, past his fraternal, but older, twin brother Esau in the family pecking order. But let's not forget the consequences of the lie. Jacob had to flee from Esau, who made an oath to kill his slightly younger brother. This also meant that Jacob was separated from his family and forced to live in a foreign land. Most of you know the story of how Jacob was hoodwinked into marrying a woman he didn't love and how his father-in-law constantly cheated him out of the family business profits. It's hard to see that Jacob could register any sort of legitimate complaint against anyone with his history. Playing loose with the truth is an accepted part of culture. When millions of dollars are on the table, many feel these coaches are justified. Sometimes, Biblical characters lied but dishonesty is condemned throughout the scriptures. Often, we chastise others but find ourselves falling to the same temptation. Early in my coaching career, I received a call from someone associated with a Christian high school. He was irate. The basketball coach at his institution had suddenly left and taken another job, breaking his contract. The voice on the other end railed about the lack of integrity of the departed coach. In the next breath, he asked if I was interested in the position, knowing I was under contract to Georgia Christian School. I'm glad there was not $32 million at stake: I might have been tempted!
Applicable quote of the day:
"Men are liars. We'll lie about lying if we have to. I'm an algebra liar. I figure two good lies make a positive."
Tim Allen
God bless,
Luke 18:1
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