|Photo via MySanAntonio|
Friday afternoon in College Station, Mike Sherman provided one of those experiences at a most unlikely moment. Sherman, who had just been relieved of his head coaching duties at Texas A&M, held a press conference, where he described his time on campus, the joys of mentoring young men, and the pain of falling short of his own expectations. What would cause a man to face a press conference just hours after being informed of his dismissal? Sherman said he needed closure. What he supplied was a dialogue that belongs in the etched memory of sports lore.
Class is creation of the soul and it cannot be faked. Class is an outgrowth of humility. It is the ability to see beyond our own supremacy and turn the other cheek when we are offended, hurt, or betrayed. Betrayal may be the bitterest of feelings. While listening to Sherman on Friday, you could see the sting of disloyalty fresh upon his countenance. But that's what made his recital so breathtaking. He refused to let his disappointment cloud his true character.
This becomes more apparent when you compare his kind words of thanksgiving on Friday afternoon with the treatment he received from the A&M brass. Decency. Graciousness. Respectability. Nobility. Sometimes those nouns aren't reciprocated. They certainly weren't for Mike Sherman. It is hard to describe how things in college athletics, let alone life should be. Words, while strong, sometimes do not do experience justice. Words, however, when delivered with emotion can enlighten us to our very core. Sherman's meek walk into the sunset wasn't a fit of weakness. Far from it. It was an answer, in its own way, to how things should be.
Maybe that is why it affected me so much. If faced with similar circumstances, would I have be able to demonstrate that amount of personal courage and vigor? Perhaps its impact stems from a guilty conscience on my part. As a pundit of the game of college football I sit in the friendly and comfortable confines of my living room and tweet to my sarcastic heart's content. Too often I forget that there are good men in difficult situations doing the best they can under the brightest of lights. A fresh breath of humanity is a good remedy for becoming too fixated on the things that do not really matter.
"If you're only a football player and I am only a football coach, that's a sad testimony," Sherman recounted in the middle of his presser. A press conference where he would describe in detail the benefits of the A&M code of conduct, his love for the University and those who aided him. This despite the glaring reality that maybe all that he had believed in was merely a show. His treatment by those who carried the banner of the University would certainly cast a shadow on the truth of those principles.
Leon Trotsky once said that you cannot live through life "without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery." Mike Sherman's 41 minute press conference was the embodiment of what Trotsky was trying to get at, at least in the football sense. As he closed, Sherman said the following: "I love coaching and I love football and think it brings out the best in people." It surely brought the best out of you, sir.
Full Video and Transcript of Mike Sherman Presser