College football's bowl season has seen its share of exciting games and blowouts since the middle of December. Although most of the public seems to care far more about Monday's upcoming BCS National Championship Game than many of the other college football bowl games, the bowl experience itself allows for college football players one last opportunity to play team football one final time for seniors while enjoying some of the spoils that come with being invited to a participate in a bowl game, including some interesting bowl gifts. Unfortunately, while college football teams work hard during the spring and summer in preparation for a season that will hopefully end with a conference, or possible national championship at some schools, an increasing number of head coaches that lead young men through the blood, sweat, and tears that come with preparing for a football season depart after the team's major accomplishment. The departure of a college football head coach for another position of higher prestige and more money isn't surprising but the way some coaches handle their potential departure leaves much to be desired.
Due to the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, Penn State football was hit with one of the toughest set of penalties in NCAA history last year. However, instead of understandably departing a very rough and difficult situation for any head coach, new Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien stayed and worked hard to convince many of his players from transferring from his team. After the sanctions were announced, O'Brien said, "I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes". O'Brien had mixed success in keeping some of his program's best players after many key players transferred but those who stayed at Penn State played inspired and the team had a surprising eight win season which led to O'Brien being named Big Ten Coach of the Year. The way Bill O'Brien carried himself over the course of the season garnered respect from his players, the media, and opposing coaches due to his attitude in facing challenges he did not see coming or cause himself.
However, it had to be surprising to current Penn State players and those high school football seniors committed to Penn State to hear reports that O'Brien had interviewed with the Cleveland Browns in late December before recently stating he would remain at Penn State. He was quoted as recently stating about his remaining at Penn State that he "made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that's what I am going to do. I'm not gonna cut and run after one year, that's for sure". While it is commendable that O'Brien remembered the commitment he made to the student-athletes who didn't transfer after Penn State received their NCAA penalties, he restates his commitment after reports of an interview with a NFL team. It is suspected that O'Brien courted NFL teams in a successful attempt to get raises for himself and his assistant coaches but either way his words about commitment ring much hollower when he even picks up the phone to talk to NFL teams about a head coaching position.
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is one of the most innovative offensive minds in football and he has had terrific success in taking Oregon to another level after taking over for a highly successful head coach in Mike Bellotti. Kelly's success in college led to NFL teams courting him even before his Oregon team's convincing win in Fiesta Bowl this month. However, instead of having his representatives shut down all talk about Kelly's potential arrival as a NFL head coach, much of the talk surrounding the 2013 Fiesta Bowl was about what NFL team Kelly could potentially join. The focus of the Fiesta Bowl for the week leading up into the game was on the head coach and not the student-athletes for the Oregon Ducks or the opposing Kansas State Wildcats. Head coaches often preach about being about "team" and "playing for all the members of the team" and not being a distraction but Chip Kelly could have handled the situation better and still have been a coaching commodity after his team's game was over.
The college football bowl season is unique in that most games take place over two weeks from a team's final regular season game. In that period of time, college football head coaches have to assess their recruiting classes for the future while pursuing their own futures as head coaches when better positions are offered. However, head coaches in college football are unique in that they are almost like teachers in molding young men into great contributors into society. It is important for college football head coaches to be honest and show integrity with the young men that they are responsible for developing on and off the playing field.