Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Coaches

Guest Blogger | Updated Aug 25, 2011

Written by Guest Blogger: The Rider Prophet

Do you enjoy long hours, high pressure conditions, thankless work, constant criticism, spending endless hours with dozens of sweaty men and the high probability of being fired? Then you should consider a career as a CFL head coach.

This past week Greg Marshall was fired by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. While I’m sure it’s of little solace to him at this point, at least he is in good company. In fact, he becomes the eighth head coach to be fired over the past five seasons. That number seems fairly high for a league as small as the CFL but that’s the sad reality for head coaches. In the infamous words of Trooper they are here for a good time, not a long time… and sometimes the time isn’t even that good (cough, Bart Andrus, cough).

Admittedly there are things about every job out there that are less than desirable, but the sheer number of not so desirable aspects of coaching makes you wonder why any sane person would willingly accept such a job.

The working conditions certainly aren’t a strong selling point. You get to spend every waking hour of your day in a stinky locker room, in a bus/plane, in a hotel, outside (where it can range from scorching heat to blizzard on any given day) or if you are really lucky you might get to spend of few hours alone in an office barely bigger than a broom closet. It’s enough to make a career standing in front of a McDonald’s deep fryer seem not so bad by comparison.

While normal people’s jobs require them to explain their decisions to their supervisor on occasion, a CFL coach is required to explain every decision he makes to a throng of reporters and tens of thousands of fans on a daily basis … who will in turn dissect and second guess every tiny detail and likely criticise them regardless of how things turned out.

Normal people’s jobs require them to be very proficient in a specific skill set. To be a successful head coach you need to have an insanely diverse skill set. The ideal coach is part teacher, part animal tamer, part motivational speaker, part politician, part information processor, part drill sergeant … oh yeah, and on top of all that they need to be an expert in the actual game of football.

Some will point to the salary as one of the few “perks” of the coaching gig. While it’s true that head coaches earn a healthy six figure salary, when you factor in the fact that they have to put in hundreds and hundreds of hours it actually works out to slightly below minimum wage if you calculated it out on an hourly basis. Plus you have to account for the fact that they need to spend a number of years as an assistant coach where your workload will be fairly similar but your pay will be considerably less.

Even if you put in the long hours, embrace the dreadful working conditions, deal with criticism and take on this challenging job, you likely won’t be remembered after you are inevitably fired. If I told you that since the 2005 season 26 different men have held head coaching positions in the CFL, I bet you would be hard pressed to name half of them. And of the ones you do remember, I bet a good chunk of them you remember for the wrong reasons (e.g. Mike Kelly).

If the trend of the previous few seasons continues, this offseason there will likely be 2 more openings for head coaches in the CFL. That means that 2 more aspiring suckers… err I mean bright football minds will willingly take on a profession that could likely be classified as a form of torture. It really makes you wonder, given all the hype around the affects of concussions on players, if it’s the coaches’ heads we should be examining instead.

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