Other than being able to draw little X’s and O’s ”” something also needed to play tick-tack-toe ”” and being able to tame 300-pound gorillas, no one ever said college football coaches needed to be smart.
One of the gorillas got loose at the University of Colorado a few years ago and apparently raped a good looking blonde who had wanted to be a place kicker on the football team.
The chief gorilla-tamer in the toney town of Boulder, where the university is located, is now in trouble because of the incident. Well, because of the incident and his own density in handling it. And because, fortunately, the president of the University of Colorado is a woman.
Asked about the incident, Colorado’s football coach, Gary Barnett, proceeded to tell reporters what a lousy place kicker the blonde was, and that athletes can only respect other athletes (and human beings) who are good at what they do. If people are not good at what they do and can therefore cannot command gorilla respect, presumably under the Barnett code athletes are likely, and perhaps entitled, to take matters in their own huge hands and brutalize people.
That’s the law of the jungle, Barnett style.
It is not the law in Boulder, however, or on the Colorado campus, or in Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman’s office. Dr. Hoffman is president of the university, and she took the matter in her own delicate but capable hands and placed Gary Barnett on paid administrative leave.
Those who live or die at the success of college football in Boulder went berserk over this move, naturally. They and former players and even the assistant coach who was moved up into Barnett’s position quickly came to his defense.
"That’s not Gary," they insisted, ignoring the fact that Gary himself had said it was Gary. He was the one who made the dumb remark, and apparently believed it. If you’re a lousy place kicker, if you’re really terrible, this leader of men said, beware. You may get raped by teammates because of lack of respect.
I have no idea who the college coach of the year might be in 2004.
I know it will not be Gary Barnett.
What concerns me more is who the college president of the year might be, and I want to cast a vote now, before the balloting begins, for Elizabeth Hoffman.
It takes guts, in this muscle-bound redneck society of ours, to stand up against the Simpsons of the world and yell "Enough of this nonsense."
Football is big business, and guys who play it are forgiven far more than they should be. Too many of them are big and strong with tiny brains, obsessed with the notion that they can patrol a campus or a bar or a sidewalk with their bulk and swagger and bully people around. The list of offenders is long, and the list of adequate punishment for them short. If they can tackle or run or pass or catch exceptionally well they are likely to be given a pass.
So it is a fresh breeze when a woman who has the power to control and corral them uses it, and calls their actions, or the action of their defenders like Gary Barnett, unacceptable.
This country doesn’t need more football coaches who think lousy women placekickers deserve what they get.
It needs a lot more university professors who think dumb coaches deserve what they get.
There are more women presidents of American universities these days than ever before.
The first guy who suggests that all universities should have them gets my vote.
At the very least, I’d even vote for a man who puts coaches and their athletes in place, and who points out that they are subject to the same code of civility as all the rest of us.
Meanwhile, until that happens, I’ll just have to spend time and energy rooting against the Buffaloes next fall, even though I have a very bright young grandson going to school there.
He’s studying to be a physicist. My advice to him is simple: respect even the physicists who are terrible. Even if they are girls.