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Do Coaches Lead The Way For Fan Base Impatience & Intemperance?

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In this post-regular season time of reflection, some WVU fans may face a hard truth about what they will tolerate in both coaches and fans.

Dana Holgorsen's "passionate" approach is often mirrored in his WVU fan base.
Dana Holgorsen's "passionate" approach is often mirrored in his WVU fan base.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The old saying is "What's good for the Goose is good for the Gander." If the female of the goose species benefits from a type of feed or condition, the male of the same would equally benefit.

With the regular season behind us, many WVU football fans are in reflection mode. I wanted to voice a perspective before the upcoming bowl game for two reasons. First, if we lose the game, I don’t want what's written to get lumped into the "Dump Dana" pile (because I think AD Shane Lyons has a good bead on things). Secondly, if we win the bowl game, what now follows will seem particularly whiny, given that WVU fans (me included) will be so jazzed that we won that we won’t care about trifling over these things.

There is a segment of the football loving population (WVU fan base included) that celebrates the "Tough as Nails Coach." This coach is one who motivates his players through fear, intimidation, threat of losing their starting job or scholarship, or general grumpiness that is supposedly indicative of a person who is wonderfully competitive. Within the forums and articles posted here at TSM, many have concurred with the notion that both basketball Coach Huggins and football Coach Holgorsen fit this model – albeit it seems Huggins gets more latitude to act that way because he’s won over 700 games in his career. But this goes to my point.

Let’s assume that this "threaten them, curse at them, get super agitated" method is the way to get the best out of people. Holgorsen’s mentor, Mike Leach, has shown us what this looks like behind the curtain. All you need to do is Google search "Mike Leach Locker Room Rant" and you’ll see how things actually are in the high stakes world of college football (at least among Leach and many of his disciples). If you don’t think Holgorsen shares a similar style of discipline, you aren’t a very good lip reader.

Now, before you think I’m angling to hire all John Beilein types as our coaches (although such a notion isn’t that bad of a thought), hear me out.  Why would many of the same people who want the "tough guy" coach (with his scare the hell out of them to motivate them philosophy), rail against fans who put a similar type of impatient and demanding pressure on these same coaches? Coaches, mind you, who earn millions of dollars each year as a result of the fan base buying the tickets, t-shirts, driving the television ratings, and donating to the Mountaineer Athletic Club.

One can’t have it both ways. Either the high pressure, cuss in your face, threaten your life, humiliate you publicly "Bobby Knight temper tantrum" works to improve performance, or it doesn’t. And if it works for the players, why would we not assume that it works for the coaches, too? Dana Holgorsen has on many occasions used the most vivid of profane rants for all to see in HDTV. I actually hatched this overarching philosophical opinion when I once replayed my DVR close up of a Holgorsen tirade when our O-line couldn’t punch it into the end zone. Barked HCDH: "Soft Mother F@#$ers!"

I’m not one to pile on the coaches (except for backwards hat Joe). And I certainly don’t think it is appropriate to cruelly pile on the players, given that they are young kids who aren’t making millions of dollars for their efforts. But before anyone expresses concerns about the demanding fan base, or the impatient and sometimes irreverent online responses by some Mountaineer Maniacs, they need to ask themselves this question: "Why is it OK for our coaches to do this same thing?"

During this latest round of football coach firings, media pundits (many former coaches) wondered aloud if something had gone terribly wrong in the coaching world. Nowadays, millionaire coaches are fired after five substandard seasons, or a so-called legend is terminated because he never got the team to a conference championship. I found myself wondering why so many coaches have been so protected from the vitriolic reaming they've been dishing out to players for decades.

Up until recent changes in some conferences, college football players have always been playing on one-year renewable scholarships, often hung over their heads ostensibly to get them to play better. Maybe what's good for the goose is good for the gander, too? Or maybe the entire system is irrevocably askew.