Commentary

Coach Confidential

More than 50 coaches dish anonymously about playoffs, payoffs, gambling and scandals

Updated: August 11, 2011, 10:00 PM ET
By ESPN The Magazine
Coach ConfidentialPhoto Illustration by John RitterWith confidentiality ensured, FBS coaches sounded off on some of the game's hottest topics.

BACK IN JUNE, we started asking FBS coaches some tough questions about their sport. Assistants were easier to grab (of the 55 coaches we spoke to, 11 were head men, 44 were assistants). But based on the responses to WHO IMPACTS THE GAME MORE, THE HEAD COACH OR HIS ASSISTANTS? maybe we shouldn't have bothered with the big bosses at all -- 70.9 percent went with the assistants, including all 11 head coaches. In the words of one ACC front man, "We just go to all the meet-and-greets and decide whether to kick or go for it sometimes." That's okay, Coach. For Confidential, we value your opinions just the same.


NATION'S BEST PLAYER?
Dumb question. Stanford star QB Andrew Luck won in a landslide, with 77.8 percent. More interesting is that about one in 10 coaches (9.2 percent, to be exact) went with another guy who could have been a first-round pick but decided to return to school: Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, who had 111 catches for 1,782 yards last year. "I thought Dez Bryant was great," says one Big 12 assistant. "But Blackmon is harder to deal with because he's more slippery."

TRUE/FALSE: CHEATING ON THE RECRUITING TRAIL IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM.
Coaches had an interesting take on this one. The vast majority (83.6 percent) answered "true." But almost all of them explained that it was because of a buildup of small transgressions, not extravagant gifts. "It's a major problem," an SEC assistant says. "But it ain't cars. It's phone calls, visits, that kind of stuff."

35 BOWLS ARE ...
More than half (56.4 percent) say having 70 postseason teams (a record set last year that will be repeated in 2011) is just right. "Teams with a winning record deserve a bowl game," says a Pac-12 coach. But many of those voters also admit they understand why 40 percent feel that 35 bowls are too many. "Bowl season has gotten watered down," says a head coach. "But for players and coaches, we love them. Just don't add any more."


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