June 29, 2010
Not that college is a "real-world" experience for anyone who isn't planning to organize his career around waking up after noon, officiating topless jell-o wrestling matches and forcing beer pong losers to light their arm on fire. But the sheltered life can be even more extreme for big-time college football players, man-children who tend to have entire staffs of people tasked specifically with keeping the athletes fed, tutored and in the right classes at the right time. Add the quasi-celebrity status and near-universal NFL ambitions at a program like Florida, and the lifestyle can seem positively detached.
At least, that's how Gator coach Urban Meyer sees it, according to the new "Real World Tuesday" program he described Monday on 1070 am in Indianapolis:
Meyer: "Two years ago, after the '08 National Championship, [defensive line coach] Chuck Heater who's been with me a long time, was sitting there talking about how the intent used to be just to get guys degrees. Nowadays, a college degree won't even guarantee you a job. So now we’ve taken it to the next level and we call the ‘Real Life Tuesdays’. We’re teaching them how to interview, we’re teaching them the whole process of life after football, and it’s not just get your degree, get your degree, because that’s not going to guarantee you a job. There’s a lot of people getting their degree that are having a hard time finding work. So the best way to do that is to bring in other athletes and community leaders. We meet in small groups, we have one-on-ones and then we have big lectures about life after football. So we’ve devoted a lot of even practice to make sure these young guys have a life after football."
It's true: In this economy, even Vanderbilt grads have been reduced to taking lowly analyst gigs at "boutique" firms after a mere summer in Europe. It's scraps out there, man.
Of course, Meyer's version of adult reality apparently includes logging 20-hour days through debilitating chest pains, splitting headaches and the occasional confrontation with a rogue reporter. If anyone is looking for tips in the fine art of the point-and-stare during negotiation, though, his door is always open.
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Hat tip: Jimmy Shapiro. Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.