The earth is still rumbling under the feet of the West Texas A&M University football program, which saw its head coach, Don Carthel, fired over an apparent ethical lapse.
In his statement to the public, Carthel spoke of his “unhealthy” relationship with WT Athletic Director Michael McBroom, for whom Carthel worked and who did the firing this past week. Carthel was fired for violating a rule governing the conduct of players. Carthel took two of his players to a big league baseball game this summer in Arlington, got them to reimburse him for their game tickets and then fibbed about when he got the players’ payment; he then asked the players back up his story.
Bad call, coach.
It has since occurred to me that friction between a highly successful coach and his or her boss — namely the university athletic director — isn’t all that uncommon.
Let me make clear that I am not privy to the details of the two men’s professional relationship. I cannot vouch for how they feel about each other as men. I don’t know either of them, although I’ve shaken Carthel’s hand and spoken with him a time or two on occasion.
Almost by definition, a successful athletic coach must possess a large ego, not unlike a politician who seeks a high office. The late Sen. George McGovern, who ran for president, once said a big ego was the No. 1 requirement of a successful politician. So it should be with a successful coach.
It might be, then, that Carthel’s own ego got in the way of his relationship with McBroom.
Other coaches have run afoul of their bosses. Look what’s happened down the road a bit, at Texas Tech University. Head football coach Mike Leach was fired over an allegation that he mistreated one of his players, but the trouble had been brewing almost from the day Leach got there. He’s a bit of an oddball and his style didn’t always seem like a good fit with the hidebound types who call the shots at Tech.
Then, of course, former head men’s basketball coach Bob Knight got into that infamous salad bar argument with Tech Chancellor David Smith.
I’m not suggesting that Don Carthel is in Leach’s league, let alone in the same league with the fiery Knight.
Successful coaches don’t come along very often. Universities usually pay them lots of money to win football games, which means more fans come to the games, which means more cash for the school, which means better recruitment opportunities to lure blue-chip athletes to keep the winning program going.
It might be that McBroom was looking for a way to get rid of Carthel — who then did his boss a favor by handing him the opportunity.