Coaches, in general, comprise a body resistant to change, so when the NCAA voted to slice into their very livelihood, the expected cry arose and continued through Monday's College Football Forum.
In January the NCAA, at the insistence of the Presidents Commission, shoved through a series of measures that, among other things, restricted the number of coaches who could recruit off-campus to seven and lopped off one fulltime coaching position."These are poly-skilled operations and there'd soon be a coach for every position," said Bernard Sliger, president of Florida State and one of the administrators at the NCAA forum. "There was a feeling that this had to be checked. The one (cut) that most of us questioned was the one in football, but the feeling was that unless we cut football we were going to have trouble cutting the others."
While the NCAA was passing the legislation, the football coaches were having their own convention at New Orleans, where, Brigham Young Coach Lavell Edwards said, they participated in a favorite pastime where they "sit down there and gripe and whatever."
The coaches were angry because some of them would be forced to let some of their friends go.
"Nobody appreciates the concerns of the coaches more than I do," said Southeastern Conference Commissioner Roy Kramer. "I coached for a long time. But all of us have to realize that intercollegiate athletics do not exist for the sake of creating job opportunities for coaches or for athletic directors or for administrators."
While none of the coaches were ready to argue that point, they were still on the defensive about the changes. They apparently don't like to have to make the tough choices, either. Apart from the staff reduction, the item that stung the head coaches the most was the limit on going off campus to recruit, meaning they would have to tell two or three coaches that they are out of the recruiting loop.
Tennessee Coach Johnny Majors said, "It's going to affect their futures. They'll say, `I'm not a recuiter on the road, how is that going to affect me if somebody wants to interview me for a head coaching job?' And do you pay the ones on the road more then those not? These are things that have to be considered."
Several coaches suggested that a rotation of all the coaches on the staff with a limit of seven out on any one week would be a viable compromise and would help morale.
They agreed that either way it was a rich-get-richer scenario: Since fewer coaches would be out selling the schools, the high-profile teams would benefit from the lack of competition.
"It's going to be more of an advantage for those people already in good recruiting spots and the schools with the good reputations," said Majors. "It will affect the Texas-El Pasos, Texas Techs, people who are more isolated."
Not many schools qualify more in that category than Kansas State, as Coach Bill Snyder pointed out.
He said, "If we cut anything at Kansas State, we're in some serious trouble. Staying up with the Joneses is certainly a must in college athletics and we do that. Consequently it costs money.
"These are things that maybe hurt a program like Kansas State more than others."
Just as the NCAA takes away, however, it seems to give back. Nearly every measure passed in January will not be enacted for several years and will likely undergo legislative tinkering.
"The buzz word at the convention was fine-tuning," Sliger said. "I think every time a proposition came up it would be prefaced by, `Now don't vote this down, but let's get it passed and we'll come back and fine-tune it.' I think some of it will be looked at the next convention. "
Edwards said the coaches are often their own worst enemies since they don't - with a few exceptions such as Edwards, Penn State's Joe Paterno and Nebraska's Tom Osborne - attend the NCAA convention.
He added that even the coaches' presence would probably have little effect this year.
"I'd just as soon go against Hawaii (a 59-38 loss) or Texas A&M (a 65-14 defeat) as get run over by that train," he said. "This particular convention was wired right from Day One. I don't think there was anything we could have done or would have done that would have made any difference whatsoever. (The Presidents Commission) did a nice job."
Ironically, the way for the coaches to assert themselves would be to to take the same tack as the college presidents and get directly involved.
"I do think it's very important for us to get right back in and get involved with our people," Edwards said.