Startling Bond Shared by Coach K, Lute Olson and Urban Meyerby Victor Rodriguez on Mar. 24, 2011, under Sports
What do Bob Huggins, Lute Olson, Tom Penders, Mike Krzyzewski and Urban Meyer have in common? Besides all being successful in their respective sports, all have had to deal with health issues while still coaching. An average day for a college or football coach is between 17 and 20 hours a day, generally seven days a week. With the demands and stress of winning in a billion dollar industry, it’s no wonder coaches have problems with health.
Huggins, West Virginia’s basketball coach had his last rites read in 2002 after suffering a massive heart attack. Meyer, the former Florida football coach who led the Gators to a pair of national championships, was forced to retire due to chest pains and high blood pressure. Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, considered retiring in 1995 due to exhaustion. Penders, who had coaching stints at Texas, George Washington and Houston, hid the fact he was gravely ill. Since coaches are always in the spotlight and put under the microscope, the battles with health issues become public battles instead of being handled privately.
Penders, who got the nickname “Turnaround Tom” for his ability to successfully turnaround struggling programs, told the Victor and Matt show, “I think there are a lot of coaches today covering up. A lot of them are personal friends of mine who call me up and ask me for advice. (Former Utah and current St. Louis coach) Rick Majerus spent a couple years with a heart condition. Other coaches have it too. I look at Meyer and have a pretty good idea what he is going through. It’s probably the same thing I went through, although, my condition was not stress related. I had to learn to enjoy things, but coaches are asked to do too much today.”
While most of these coaches will admit they are lucky and extremely fortunate to coach the game they love, the toll on the body after all the recruiting, practices and games, complying with NCAA rules, fund raising for newer practice facilities and regular outings with boosters is most likely doing more harm than good. The reality is if a coach isn’t doing all that was mentioned before, he or she won’t be walking the sideline for very long. Coaches will even admit they would do anything for the game the love, even die. Unfortunately, coaching the game they love is doing more harm than good.