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When Coaches Use Drugs, College Football Has a Real Problem

Former FAU head coach Carl Pelini
Former FAU head coach Carl PeliniSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 31, 2013

Chalk this one up on the board of "things we didn't expect to be discussing midseason."

Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis abruptly resigned on Wednesday amid reports that they attended a social event where marijuana was used, according to ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy.

Athletics director Patrick Chun confirmed the report, and added some context to their sudden resignation, according to Dieter Kurtenbach of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Pelini and Rekstis both admitted to what FAU athletic director Pat Chun called “illegal drug use.”

— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) October 30, 2013

Pelini apologized for his actions in a statement. Per CoachingSearch.com:

I apologize for exercising poor judgment. My greatest concerns at this time are for me family, the dedicated FAU players and my staff. I am confident that Pat Chun and the University administration will continue to move the program forward.

When you have coaches getting booted for the same problems they supposedly are trying to teach their players to avoid, college football has a major problem. 

This isn't a debate about the legality of marijuana. Washington and Colorado have made it legal and thus play by a slightly different set of rules. It's about decision-making—in this case, poor decision-making—whether you're for the legalization of marijuana or not.

Former FAU head coach Carl Pelini
Former FAU head coach Carl PeliniSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The fact is, for the majority of college football programs in most states, it's illegal. Yet these issues keep popping up.

Former FAU head coach Carl Pelini
Former FAU head coach Carl PeliniShanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Coaches are paid to be leaders.

Leaders on the football field, leaders in the locker room, leaders in life. Making smart decisions and leading by example is part of their job responsibility. What kind of message does it send to impressionable young men that their leader willfully chooses to break the rules?

A very bad one.

Whether it's Pelini smoking some weed or former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino taking a spin on his motorcycle with a mistress he hired, coaches need to look in the mirror and practice what they preach. It seems like every week there are suspensions for players "violating team rules," and it doesn't take a big leap to determine that many stem from drug-related issues.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 30: Head coach Carl Pelini of the Florida Atlantic Owls looks on during second quarter action against the Miami Hurricanes on August 30, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

It's not a drug epidemic, it's a decision-making epidemic; and fixing it starts from the top.

College football is a stressful environment for everyone involved, and in many cases, that stress is exacerbated by egos. That's what happens when you get 100 or so "type A" personalities in a building together.

As with any organization, company or school, there are going to be people within any large group that make mistakes. When the leader is making those same mistakes, something has to change.

Florida Atlantic had no choice.

 

 

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