PULLMAN – Texas coach Charlie Strong met with embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last Sunday and the two concluded that college coaches need to do more to prepare their players.
Goodell has faced heightened scrutiny in the wake of a number of recent domestic violence scandals, most notably that involving Ray Rice and accusations that the NFL did not adequately investigate the incident or punish the player involved.
Strong said that colleges were sending players of questionable character to the NFL.
On Tuesday the head coaches at Washington’s two FBS programs offered dissenting opinions.
Washington coach Chris Petersen acknowledged that the high percentage of NFL players who finish their careers with money troubles, marital troubles or abusing painkillers or other substances indicates that a league-wide behavioral change is needed.
However, he said that the onus is on the NFL to make sure the players that it is showering with money are able to handle their newfound responsibility.
“I think there’s some truth there but the second thing is these NFL teams know what they’re getting themselves into,” Petersen said. “And to me, don’t take those guys. Don’t draft them. In fact it’s frustrating to me when they do when you know that a kid’s not a good kid and you’re going to give them all this money and then he shows up in trouble.”
Petersen added that the NFL knows what it’s getting in players that have troubled pasts, and that the professional league is to blame for continuing to seek out players that could create issues for the league down the road.
He said NFL coaches and scouts frequently ask him about players that he’s coached, and that he will tell them “exactly what’s up.”
“I’m not going to stake my reputation and sugarcoat something. If you’ve been in trouble and you haven’t done things right, they’re going to know that anyways,” Petersen said. “So I’m going to tell them exactly what they’re getting.”
Mike Leach of Washington State agreed that college coaches, in general, fulfill their obligation to mold responsible citizens as well as football players. Leach has a well-known principle of dismissing any player who steals, hits a female or consumes drugs.
“We have academic centers, we have tutors and you always look for other ways,” Leach said. “I agree with the (sentiment) 100 percent but anybody that draws from that most college coaches don’t (adequately prepare their players), I don’t agree with that.”
Leach added that the controversy over whether or not Rice’s punishment was sufficient would never have existed in the WSU program, given that the player would have been immediately dismissed.
“There’s no question it would have been an automatic thing,” Leach said. “I think that’s pretty clear.”
Stanford’s red zone struggles
The Pac-12 has another chance to make a national statement this week when Stanford travels to No. 9 Notre Dame. The Cardinal are slight favorites in the game, but if Stanford is to actually win it will have to do a better job of scoring inside its opponent’s 20-yard line.
The Cardinal have entered its opponent’s “red zone” 19 times this season and come away without points seven times. That dreadful .632 scoring percentage is No. 118 out of 125 FBS teams and unbecoming of one of the country’s best programs and the two-time defending Pac-12 champions.
On Tuesday, Stanford coach David Shaw acknowledged the team’s lack of success in the red zone has him frustrated, and said the Cardinal is running the same basic red zone plays that have been successful in the past, such as last season when the Cardinals ranked No. 11 nationally.
“We have all the elements for being a good red-zone team and those elements are first of all being able to run the ball efficiently,” Shaw said. “Second of all, having an athletic quarterback that doesn’t have to force balls, that can pull the ball down and run, which Kevin (Hogan) can do for touchdowns. We’ve got receivers with both athleticism and size and we’ve got tight ends with athleticism and size.”