Cal U Football: Blame The Administration Before The Coaches


Nov 9, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; A football rest on the field during the game between the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 49ers won 27-24 in overtime.Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly every local newspaper has run a story featuring the California University of Pennsylvania football program and the incident in which six members are facing charges of beating a man nearly to death in an altercation outside of a California (PA) restaurant in late October.

As if these reports were not bad enough, the collective media have learned that a small population of the team’s roster have faced arrest at some point in their lives, prompting the university to announce a “top-to-bottom investigation of the football program.”

Many media members and fans are calling for the heads of the coaching staff, who permitted this to occur.

That’s a cop out.

It’s really easy to blame the head coach or other members of the coaching staff, but let me explain why you shouldn’t (outright) demand for their resignation.

Firstly, they were hired to win football games. If winning football games appears as part of the scope of your job description, how can you be solely faulted for trying to do your job (while presumably operating within the rules).

Now, this part is important to the article, so please read the following statement in a whiny voice: “But, they weren’t operating within the rules.  They had to know about the arrests and court decisions (pending and actualized).” Well, perhaps that’s where you are wrong.

Sure, the coach could have performed a simple Google search on a transfer player’s name or he could have wondered why he was suddenly inundated with Division I talent desiring to transfer to this small school in Pennsylvania, but why should he? There must be processes in place to account for something like this, right?

I offer two better vessels in which to place blame.

1.  California University of Pennsylvania

You have to blame the school, more so than you do the coaching staff. Let’s pretend you are a manager at your company and you are trying to hire some person to process credit card transactions. That person completes an application, you interview them, and you like them.

Reputable companies will likely insist upon a background check of this potential employee prior to hire. By applying the same logic of blaming the coaching staff for this incident, you, as the hiring manager, should be blamed because that new hire has a documented history of credit card fraud, and you put him in charge of customer’s accounts.

If the university truly had no desire to have the sort of past offenders as part of its student population and student-athlete population, they should have more aggressively sought to expose these issues during the application process.

In fact, here’s a copy of the written application for undergraduate enrollment for transfer students. It’s absolutely silent on criminal record and past transgressions, and doesn’t even ask you to list such things. I will say that it does ask if you “are in good standing at the other colleges/universities you’ve attended”.

That’s pretty easy to get around, as you can simply withdraw before fit hits the shan and the college finds out.

This begs the question: What even is the purpose of such an application?  I am tempted to complete the application as “Mr. John W. Booth” or “Mr. Jag Goff” and see if I receive a denial letter in the mail – I’d be willing to guess not.

2.  The NCAA

Truthfully, the NCAA is one to bury their heads in the sand on these types of issues. The NCAA is essentially silent on criminal activity when it comes to restricting athletes to participate in a sport at a member school. They essentially defer to the member institution to decide whether they want that type of a person representing their institution.

Whether they like it or not, the NCAA is passing the buck. Imagine if this happened in the NFL for a moment. Boom, indefinite suspension from the league and possible outright release by the franchise.

Why isn’t the NCAA doing the same? Arguably, it could help prepare these young people for life in the professional ranks and even in life. If you are a deadbeat, there are consequences. Instead, they rely on the individual university to determine an appropriate punishment, if any.

In the end, the coaching staff assembled a team with the intention of winning. They were trying to do their job and maybe even give these guys a second chance (or perhaps they didn’t even have any idea about a given player’s past).

Sure, maybe they ignored the facts and promoted a culture of “that’s in the past” or “that’s OK that you were arrested”, but you can’t fault them for trying to do their jobs and keep food on their families’ tables.

You can certainly say that they are contributing to everything that’s wrong with professional football (and maybe even society) and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.