It’s a curious pattern, one I know I will never be able to replicate.
Do something stupid, over, and over, know that is wrong, but get excused.
Something in the system finally snaps, and your contract is terminated. Or you quit, aka jump before you get pushed.
Walk away saying you are sorry (that you got caught), you want to spend more time with your family (if they will have you), and pocket a nice check with many zeros long after you’ve packed your knives and gone.
If this doesn’t sound familiar, you’re not living in the diabolically stupid, but financially lucrative, world of elite coaches. Now not-the-Raiders coach Jon Gruden has been littering the Earth with profane, disgusting, slur-filled and inappropriate emails for a long time, but keeps getting hired and walking away with $$. He resigned, and we don’t officially know what Gruden walked away with - as he was in year three of a 10-year deal worth $100 million. The team and Gruden are negotiating the many dollar bill-filled soft landing.
The latest member of the lucky loser club is LSU coach Ed Orgeron, who flamed his goose so nicely that he got lame ducked (fowl!) by mid-October. He is coaching until the end of the season, and then see ya. Orgeron also will walk away with the nice Showdown Showcase, with $17 million coming as his exit.
In 18 installments, of course. Like a reverse lay-away for a busted coach. He just signed a contract extension in Jan. 2020, getting $42 million over 6 years from LSU.
Then Orgeron decided to get his swerve on, at a gas station, on a pregnant and quite married woman. She wasn’t feeling he was the cute boy she needed in her life and asked him to stop the pick-up game.
Orgeron divorced his wife of 23 years after winning the national championship in 2019, and apparently had the frisky detector set too high.
But let’s get real.
The real reason Orgeron is gone is because LSU is 4-3.
The Raiders were 3-2 when Gruden’s prolific emails to the NFL office, and when he worked at ESPN and the Washington Football Team from 2011-2018, were suddenly deemed to be offensive. Dimes from several sources were dropped to the media, and Gruden’s sorry-not-sorry game fell.
But he knows the drill, as does Orgeron: all sins are forgiven if you are winning.
Being let go as a coach is a seemingly logical conclusion that happens all the time. Owners change, players rebel, fans freak out and it’s time to go. As somebody who has watched the Detroit Lions strugggggling during my lifetime, the coaching carousel always has hot seat. (Except the Lions are usually a rinse, lose and repeat kind of jam.)
The bigger question in this is – the financial hit taken by teams and universities to get rid of their bad boys comes at a price. And at a time when many places are claiming austerity or cuts because of the economic downturn/COVID, it’s a bitter pill to swallow for the employees of those organizations. The optics that you can get hired, without any questions of character being asked, and then walk out the door with millions after you have acted like an ass are awful.
Just win baby, and if you are being crass and nasty, just don’t get caught.
Or, more likely, have enough consiglieres around you to spin, cover up and limit the damage. The open secrets of Gruden’s emails had to be known, most specifically, by the people who were REPLYING to him with the same trash. (Cough, are they getting off with nothing?!)
The sexual abuse damage that has torn LSU apart in recent years was enabled by Orgeron and its athletic department making excuses for Guice. They know. Administration knows.
We tolerate a lot of borderline behavior in sports. You can punch somebody while at work on the ice in the NHL and it’s probably OK (maybe a fighting major), but it would be a felony if you did that the stands. A coach yelling every profane word in the world is acceptable during a tough defensive stand but would look bad during a staff meeting at Microsoft.
The boys will be boys is firmly rooted in the sports world.
And for those of us living in the real world, we’d never survive at our jobs, much less walk away with the golden parachute, for being this horrible as humans.
Our standards as a society have changed, thankfully, for calling these coaches out. But they haven’t extended far enough to make the clean-up of their messes to have real effect. The sting of awful words and deeds are not being matched by the $$$$$$$$ exits.
Contracts and agents are magical things. So are the organizations that want to make their PR nightmares disappear with magic wands. Poof. Nothing to see here!
Do you think Gruden and Orgeron are sorry? No. Do you think they will get another look at big time jobs? Yes. Will our next stories on them be about their “redemption”? Yep.
And then we are all back at square one, wondering why these jerks keep getting hired.