Once again we're presented with a tale – a parable, really – involving men who demand loyalty, devotion and persistence from others while displaying none themselves.
Steve Sarkisian left his job as coach of Washington on Monday to take the same job at USC. No big deal, right? It's the way the game is played. It's unfortunate but inevitable. It's a business, and this is how business gets done.
Ed Orgeron left his job as interim coach of USC on Monday because Sarkisian was given the permanent job. No big deal, right? Coach O was 6-2 as a head coach. He brought the Trojans back to relevance after the firing of Lane Kiffin. He was bypassed by athletic director Pat Haden despite the vocal support of his players, so it only makes sense that he would go somewhere else to soak his hurt feelings.
This kind of thing happens every December. Why fight it?
But consider this: A hypothetical Washington Huskies' player, recruited by Sarkisian under the assumption that he would get four years of his coaching, might be sitting in his dorm room thinking about transferring to follow his coach. He can do that, of course, providing he's willing and able to sit out the mandatory Pac 12 "academic year-in-residence" -- euphemisms, arise! -- during which he is not eligible to receive an athletic scholarship.
This season has brought some pretty heavy stuff when it comes to the ongoing issue of Scholarship Athletes v. The Man. Johnny Manziel had the audacity to trade his name for cash. Jadeveon Clowney looked a lot like a guy making sure he's still healthy when it's time to get paid. The All Players United uprising -- hardly Arab Spring, but still -- flashed briefly in front of the media's eyes.
But some things appear immutable, and the most immutable is this: Coaches can be duplicitous and disloyal and get rewarded with more money and a better job. Players who protect their future earnings or take a stand for better treatment or try to parley their fame into a few bucks -- the same way the NCAA and universities do -- are savaged for their lack of gratitude.
The coaching racket runs like a fifth-grader's homemade Rube Goldberg contraption. If you find enough people to believe you're a genius, and those people spread your gospel to the masses, you can keep the marble moving until the book falls off the table. These coaches must sit around and wonder how in the hell they get away with it.
Where are all the people who told the Grambling players to shut up and play after they protested the conditions in their program? Shouldn't those people be telling Orgeron to shut up and coach?
So many people talked about the how they'd do anything to have the opportunity to play big-time college football like Manziel or even small-time college football like the Grambling players. They preached on and on about the privilege of playing -- they'd do it for nothing, I tell you, and like it -- and the obligation to the team and the responsibility to play by the rules. Where are those people now? Is that vitriol reserved for the young and mostly African-American players who drive the revenue that makes Sarkisian's multimillion-dollar contract possible?