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Coaching Changes: The Dark Side of College Sports

Often overlooked by fans is the dramatic effect of a fired coach leaves on the players and the program

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Today, news broke that Paul Rhoads had been fired as Head Coach of Iowa State. Not huge news by any stretch as Iowa State isn't in the minds of most fans as they turn their attention to the conference title games and the college playoffs. It's been an incredible sight this year with how many coaches have been fired, quit or retired during the season. Iowa State is the 12th program to lose a head coach this year. And while some fans yell about the need of a new coach this program or that, the student-athletes that remain after the departure are left with some heavy-hearted emotions.

In the every rising stakes of college football, where results remain supreme, we've seen the health risks some of the coaches have faced during their tenures. Some deal with undisclosed illnesses, some escape into substance abuse and some just call it quits. 

Fans forget that these coaches don't get a break from the expectations and spotlight from second guessing fans, (and in some cases players... ahem Ohio State ahem... ) or the ability after the season is over to get away and recover for the next season. Right after the bowl game, whether good season or bad, its time to hit the recruiting trail and secure the ever changing mind of recruits for the upcoming season. Soon after signing day, thoughts turn to spring practice and implementing new schemes and plays and deciding ever earlier which young men will be game changers the next season.

These are just student athletes that have a special bond with their coach. A coach who believed in them when no one else did. Whether it was Spike Dykes and Kliff Kingsbury or Mike Leach on Wes Welker... the bond between player and coach goes long after the 4 years of the players college career. These are players who love their coach so much some may end up returning to coach for them in the years to follow. 

It is an easy enough thought that this coach or that needs to go, but at the end of the day, the emotional toll on the players is difficult to overcome. Here at Texas Tech we saw this when Leach was fired; when Ruffin McNeil wasn't hired for the permanent position; and even a sense of betrayal when Tuberville cut and ran.

The pressure on Kingsbury to make good at his Alma-Mater has to be immense. Something where, to him, failure is not an option. It's the only thing that drives him and that's more than we could say about any other potential coach.

However, you look at it, its never a good thing in the short term for coaches to be fired, especially during the season. It's a business yes, but these athletes are still students and still kids. Emotions run high and it's definitely become, the dark side of college sports.

I, for one, wish the best to Paul Rhoads who seemed to be a great guy and coach in a tough place to coach. In some ways he exceeded expectations and in others, never quite met them. Hoping for brighter days for both Coach Rhoads and Iowa State and especially the student-athletes who give everything for their university.