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A game for grown-ups

Musical Chairs is a great game for children.

In fact, I was a summer camp counselor a few years ago for 3rd-5th graders, and I enjoyed playing the game with my campers. It was fun, walking around in circles to OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” and when the music stopped, everyone competed to sit in an unoccupied chair.

There was always someone left out, but it was cool because it’s just a game – or is it?

As I read the sports sections in this week’s newspapers, there were speculations about who would be the new football coaches for some of the teams in the National Football League and National Collegiate Athletics Association. I even listened to some sports talkshows on National Public Radio, and one show had a segment focused on the coming and going of coaches in recent years. That is when an epiphany revealed itself to me – the continual changing of coaches and management in modern sports is like musical chairs.

For example, Greg Gregory, offensive coordinator for the USF football team, was listed as a candidate for head coach at the University of Richmond in Monday’s St. Petersburg Times. This came after the former Spiders coach Dave Clawson accepted an offensive coordinator position at the University of Tennessee.

On Wednesday, the Miami Dolphins hired last year’s Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Tony Sparano after firing Cam Cameron a few weeks ago. The hire came after the Dolphins appointed last year’s Cowboys coach Bill Parcels as vice president.

There is nothing wrong with what these men are doing. It is a quasi-friendly game of musical chairs.

I am not against moving up in the world or accepting a better job. In fact, I am happy for Gregory, Clawson and Sparano. This is America. This is a capitalistic society. These are the expected actions of American citizens.

I am, however, against unethical maneuvers by some of today’s coaches to get a more lucrative and/or suitable situation for themselves.

This past year, University of Louisville’s former head football coach Bobby Petrino left the Cardinals to accept a head coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons. OK, but before the season ended, he quit the team and left his players to pursue a less profitable head coaching position at the University of Arkansas. This was the same season Atlanta lost their quarterback Michael Vick because of dog fighting charges that landed him in prison.

“If I saw (Petrino) in the street, I wouldn’t have anything to say to him. I don’t have any respect for him. He turned his back on the organization,” Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall said in an interview on ESPN after Petrino announced his acceptance of the Razorbacks job.

Another coach who recently resigned from an NFL team to go to a Southeastern Conference team is Nick Saban. He left the Miami Dolphins for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007.

When Saban left Miami after two seasons with the team, he had three years left on his $4.5 million per year contract. The Alabama move made him the highest paid coach in college football with a contract worth $32 million over eight years. Two weeks before accepting the offer, according to an AP report, Saban said, “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.” When he accepted it, it ended five weeks of denials.

The vacancy Saban left in Miami enabled Cameron to get the job. He inherited a team that went 1-15.

I call that an unfriendly game of musical chairs.