Pressure may increase for local coachesWritten by Norm Wamer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary defines pressure as “the burden of mental or physical distress especially from grief, illness or adversity.” Athletics are all about pressure. Pressure comes in different forms, in differing amounts from different sources. Some try to hide or even wilt from pressure, others actually seem to thrive on it.
Simply put, if you don’t like pressure, playing or coaching sports is not for you.
Something happened last season in MAC football that hasn’t happened since 1987. Both the Toledo Rockets and the Bowling Green Falcons finished with losing records.
How long ago was 1987? Teams could have ties. The President of the United States was someone not named Bush or Clinton. UT’s coach was Dan Simrell. BGSU’s coach was Moe Ankney. The MAC did not have divisions, the champ was Eastern Michigan followed by Kent State (the only two MAC teams with winning records in 1987), and this columnist was still in college, broadcasting for the UT campus radio station which didn’t even have an over-the-air signal and was only available in the dorms and to five other people who had “cable” radio.
You can’t see, smell or touch pressure, but pressure is part of everyday life for a coach, even more so when coming off a losing season.
The pressure has been turned up a notch this season at both UT and at BGSU.
Coaches aren’t comfortable talking about pressure. Most coaches begrudgingly acknowledge that it exists.
“That’s part of coaching, that’s part of athletics,” said UT football coach Tom Amstutz. “You always want to do your best. I’m the same coach after a championship season or after a struggle. You can’t hang on to either one of them, so you have to work your way toward the next season.”
Greg Brandon, BGSU’s football coach, doesn’t even admit to game day pressure.
“I think a lot of it is self-imposed,” Brandon said. “Pressure is in the preparation. I always feel crunched for time during the week because I want to give the coaches and the players the best chance to win. I don’t want anyone to be surprised during the game.”
Ask a coach if there is added pressure for the upcoming season, you may as well ask them if they have seen Bigfoot riding the Loch Ness Monster on top of a flying saucer.
“No, not at all,” Amstutz said when asked if there was added pressure this season. “I’m real excited about the season. It’s been a lot of fun and actually I’ve had some of the most fun two-a-day practice sessions ever this summer.”
Fun? Pressure? Really? Even when asked to define pressure, Amstutz scrambled for the words.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “Maybe it’s like when I flip over and I’m wide awake at 3 in the morning? Something like that? That comes every year. That’s part of coaching.”
Now you’re getting warm, Tom.
Brandon doesn’t admit to added pressure either.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “Everybody knows that [last season] was an aberration. We were victims of our youth. We had eight road games last year and only won four games. We could have won six with a few different bounces, and we’re a little salty about that.”
Salty? At least that’s a small admission. Fun is when you win. Pressure is when you lose. Both coaches need this season to be more fun than last season. If not, the 2007 season could see something mounting that neither coach wants to admit.
Norm Wamer is program director of Sports Radio 1470 “The Ticket” WLQR-AM and co-hosts “The Front Row” weekday afternoons from 4 to 6 p.m.