"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's "news": coach simply isn't returning

Todd Hickman
I'm seated at the Senior Center and looking at the November 22 edition of the Morris newspaper (a.k.a. Alexandria advertising shopper). There is an article at the bottom of the first sports page that strikes me as rather odd. It's a very short article that is stretched along the width of the page. The article came from "UMM Sports Information."
This six-sentence article tells us that Todd Hickman, UMM football coach, is not returning. That's it. Did he resign? The article doesn't use the word resign. What are his future plans? The article doesn't touch on this at all. It's a tersely-worded piece that simply informs us that we cannot look for Todd along the sidelines anymore.
He is not quoted. An article like this might quote him talking about the joys and challenges of his stint here. But, nothing like that. It is not unusual for college sports coaches to be told, in effect, to mosey on down the road. Sports reporting is one area where you can report that a coach "got fired" and it doesn't come across as cruel or sensational to do so. I don't know the facts in this particular case, other than coach Hickman is simply not returning - something that UMM feels is very important for all of us to know at this time.
I remember Todd as a high school athlete with the Morris Tigers. I remember thinking he might have pro potential in baseball.
UMM football may not be in the most robust state right now. I'm indifferent about that. UMM is a progressive, quite forward-leaning institution that might be expected to watch the sun set on football as a sport. The facts about football's hazards keep pouring out. It seems incongruous for UMM to keep thumping its chest about its football team at a time when science and all learned individuals are rapidly suggesting skepticism about the sport.
UMM is a progressive place that is represented much better by the "University Register" than that other student publication that purports to be conservative but seems really to exist just to have a chip on its shoulder. It is political conservatives who are giving the benefit of the doubt to football today, not progressives.
Rush Limbaugh can talk about how "we're becoming a nation of wusses" but his voice is an echo of the past, a past where football was equated with "macho" and the football captain would be expected to date the "cutest cheerleader." Football players could be misogynistic. Limbaugh is a relic representing the regressive set, predictably dissing the enlightenment brought about by science, as with climate change denial.
You see, political progressives base their ideas and opinions on demonstrated truth - science. Conservatives turn to their emotions. UMM is a place celebrating fact, science and reasoned opinion. Therefore, assuming the student body reflects that, we can expect football to have a real uphill battle staying viable here. And it might not matter who the coach is. All the more power to soccer.
Looking at football, I miss the days when we really knew who our opponents were. We all know what a "Moorhead State" is, or "Winona State" et. al. Since joining the UMAC, UMM is matched against teams that seem quite obscure, almost oddball in some cases. Success would mean more if we played the old opponents.
Whatever the case, the death of football seems inevitable, it's just a question of what the pace will be.
UMM has announced a "national search" for a new head coach. Even if we win more, I have to wonder how much the interest can be bumped up. So many colleges are on this carousel of having to try to win to stoke interest and fuel campus pride, as if a bunch of ruffians wearing helmets ought to have anything to do with this anyway.
A perfectly intelligent and capable coach puts in his "hitch" for a few years, and then when the winning percentage isn't quite up to par, he's jettisoned. The whole mode seems regressive. Everyone can not win. Each game has one winner and one loser. There always has to be a loser. Only 50 percent of teams win on a given Saturday.
Yet these colleges set the bar so high for evaluating coaches, as if it's a legitimate expectation imposed on all of them, to win. What a blessing for a son or daughter to be interested in the humanities instead, or some other non-sports field where the criterion is not set in such an unforgiving way.
I have no idea if Mr. Hickman was let go in the way typical of a coach who failed to "cut it." But the article sure makes it sound that way. Maybe the announcement could have waited until the new coach was found (and thrown into the lion's den).
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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