I know, I know: All you want to do is read about and discuss the future head coach of the Florida Gators, and why he should be Scott Frost or Dan Mullen or Mike Leach or Lane Kiffin or Chip Kelly or Steve Spurrier or the reanimated corpse of Bear Bryant.
But Florida’s probably playing four more games before that head coach is hired, and the man coaching them gave me a reason to really root not just for the team I love but the guy in charge of it on Monday.
Right at the end of the press conference, Associated Press reporter Mark Long — because of course it was Mark Long — asked Shannon about what Scott Stricklin told Shannon about “your chances for this job” on a full-time basis.
Shannon’s answer was brilliant.
Shannon: Never talked about it. Never asked him a question about it, or anything. It’s all about Missouri, and it’s all about getting ready for the next one.
It’s, uh, sometimes, you can start thinking about everything else ... only the most important — the best job I ever had, you know the best job I ever had in my whole career?
Long: Uh, University of Miami linebackers coach for that team that was really talented?
Best job I ever have is the job I have right now. ‘Cause it’s the only job. The best players I ever coached is the players I’m coaching right now, ‘cause them the only players I can coach.
So you have to take that mindset and capitalize on that, instead of thinking about the past or the future — thinking about what you have now.
And I think a lot of times, in coaching, guys try to think about the next job, instead of the best job they have is the one they have now. Or they may think about guys you’ve coached in the past, or guys you may have to coach, instead of about the guys you have now. And that’s how I think most of the time, my mindset.
Long: (mostly inaudible) You know what, though? Those guys you coached in the past had a lot of talent ... were good.
Shannon: These guys are fun, too.
It’s not a grammatically perfect answer, no, but it is otherwise the best possible answer that a coach can give to that question. Shannon makes clear that his job duty, coaching the players he has under his tutelage right now, is a responsibility, privilege, and joy — something that we the fans can forget that coaches value as much or more than the fortune, fame, and power that come with being coaches.
At their roots, most coaches — Shannon, Jim McElwain, Will Muschamp, Urban Meyer, Ron Zook, Steve Spurrier, Charley Pell, Ray Graves, name your favorite and least favorite — keep at least the embers of that initial spark of their coaching career, that inkling about being able to teach and lead and nurture, and wanting to do it.
At heart, many college football coaches are just extremely well-paid teachers whose students have group projects due every Saturday in the fall.
At the end of the day, and the end of their days, I suspect most of the people who coach sports take far more pride in who their players become than how much those players make, or how fast they could run.
On Monday, Randy Shannon communicated that fact about himself better than most of them do, and convinced me that he’s currently capable of doing and eager to do a damn good job of coaching Florida’s players for as long as he is tasked with doing so — win or lose.
And while I’d like to see them and him win, and don’t know that I think he’s likely to be Florida’s head coach even if they do win, I’m proud of Florida’s current head coach this week because of how he ended his weekly press conference — something I certainly couldn’t say a week ago.