Lessons learned from how not to tie a tin can to a loyal employee: (1.) Ask the underlings their opinions of the man in charge, even if they may resent the fact he makes the decisions that controls their assignments; and (2) If the boss says he's "95 percent sure" you are going to be retained then start searching, by all means, at that moment, for another job.
The way Joe Krivak had his personal dignity and professional credibility pulled out from him was despicable and brings more public disgrace to the University of Maryland. Bush league. Dr. William Kirwan, university president, has reason to be embarrassed that the head of the athletic department, one Andrew Geiger, humiliated an institution that deserves much better.
Geiger ought to consider a resignation so he can move on to some place where he can have a fresh start. He is supposed to be an experienced athletic director but his mishandling of the Krivak situation, amateurish and bungling, is something you wouldn't expect at Podunk U. or the Barber College, much less a major institution of Maryland's standing.
Imagine signing a football coach to a four-year contract at the end of last season and then, after being decimated by injuries and academic failures, invite players from a team with a 2-9 record to offer a critique. Be remindful, too, that Maryland has played one of the most difficult schedules in the country as pointed up by the fact that six of its 1991 opponents are playing in bowl games. It was the same last year.
Some of the Maryland football players, filled up with their own importance and blind to their deficiencies, are not likely to blame themselves. The Maryland "crybabies," as expected, put the knock on Krivak and the criticism undercut his ability to coach and recruit. Had he continued in his role, Krivak would have been calling on potential players, trying to influence them to come to Maryland, while first having to defend himself and attempt to explain the woeful record to high school youngsters and their parents.
Having to do that would have placed him in an untenable position. Since Geiger is being paid as a professional athletic director, he should have conducted himself accordingly, rather than asking for the input of football players, which virtually gave them a voice to sit in judgment of the head coach and his assistants.
Would Earl "Red" Blaik, Woody Hayes, Paul "Bear" Bryant, Eddie Robinson, Joe Paterno, Lou Holtz, Frank Kush, Dave Nelson and other winning coaches, past and present, been able to succeed if an AD was requesting players to visit his office and assess the man who prepared them in practice, devised the game strategy and made lineup decisions? Nothing kills morale quicker or dissipates authority in a sport predicated on hard physical work, discipline and the continuation of a coach-player relationship than to undercut the leader.
What were some of the complaints the players registered? According to the Washington Post, linebacker Greg Hines was perturbed because on road trips meals were frequently comprised of chicken and spaghetti. He should have made his "beef for beef' with the trainer or the university dietitian. Why not pack his own lunch or engage a private caterer?
And another member of the varsity, Troy Jackson, was upset because his favorite music wasn't on in the room where the players lifted weights. It would be ridiculous to believe Geiger dignified any of those remarks. But then maybe he did. That could have been his reason for withholding the "5 percent" that was lacking and which would have given Krivak total Geiger support.
What happened, through this process, was an erosion of the most important qualities a coach brings with him to any level of football, be it sandlot, high school, college or pro. It's essential for any coach to be fully invested with the power to make decisions and to have parents believe, when they permit one of their sons to go off to play college football, that he was going to be given fair treatment by the coach and receive a quality education.
Coaches have exited before with 2-9 records but few with three years remaining on a contract. There is new emphasis placed on academics at Maryland, plus difficulty to get transcripts of fringe-type students approved for entrance. It evolves into a momentous problem, as Krivak and Geiger know, to win at the conference level where Maryland competes.
Krivak deserved a better fate. He wasn't technically fired but quit because Geiger left him with no other option. Krivak, man and coach, had to walk away with pain and reluctance.