East Tennessee State football coach Randy Sanders lost one week’s pay in the softest way possible. The former Kentucky and Florida State offensive coordinator was reprimanded for slapping a player in the helmet.
That’s right. A slap to the helmet is worth one week’s salary.
The incident occurred during a Hail Mary drill on March 30. When a defensive player picked off a pass, he ran out of the end zone with the ball instead of taking a knee for a touchback. When Sanders told the player to take a knee, the player responded, “I’ll take a knee in the a game.” Sanders reacted by smacking the player in the helmet. That’s when the player reportedly removed his equipment and left practice, which started the investigation.
Sanders apologized for his action.
“Last week, I responded to a situation with poor judgment towards the end of practice,” Sanders said in a statement released by the university. “I immediately apologized to the player directly involved and to my team, and contacted my athletic director to explain everything that happened. Since that time, I have cooperated freely and fully with the university and its review of the situation. I accept the decision by the university and recognize that through my role I have an obligation to lead by example.”
Give me a break. This incident might be the softest and lowest point in the history of football.
Woody Hayes taught us that coaches can’t punch kids in the face, especially when it’s an opponent in the middle of a game. This was not a punch. Sanders slapped a player in the helmet for being insubordinate and talking back. It’s not the first time a football player has been disciplined by a coach with a smack across the helmet.
Witnesses said the incident was surprising but many players noted they had seen ”far worse disciplinary actions” in high school sports. All the witnesses said they didn’t consider the slap to be physically harmful and that it didn’t appear to be done with intent to hurt the player.
A player threw a fit because he got smacked by his coach. This isn’t an issue of player safety. This is another Millennial giving my generation a bad reputation. If he can’t take a slap to the helmet, how will he handle getting ear-holed with a block from his blind-side?
Randy Sanders should not be punished for disciplining his player. His player should toughen up. This is not track and field. This is football.