Mike Van Diest is the head football coach at Carroll College in Montana. Beginning his 14th season as the leader of the Saints in 2012, his teams have won six NAIA national championships, been runner-up in three more of those national championship games, and won 12 straight Frontier Conference Championships. Despite his team's loss to Division I Portland State in their season opener on Saturday night, Van Diest still has a 157-23 record as a head football coach.

But just a few weeks ago, Van Diest had given his letter of resignation to athletic director Bruce Parker, citing personal reasons. What would cause a successful coach like Van Diest to suddenly call it quits before the season started?

Most people in this small Montana town thought the sudden resignation was a result of a personal or family crisis, most likely a major health concern like cancer or another life-threatening disease. It was not cancer; but there was definitely something eating at Van Diest that he didn't like.

He had hit a crossroads that intersected with his personal and professional life. And he didn't like what he was seeing from himself. His self-realization was that he was seeing his Carroll football players more for their skills on the field than as young men who happened to be athletes.

"I found myself only looking at that part of the person, that part of the player," he said. He thought to himself that he was falling short of his goals when it came to being a man. The demanding job of being a college coach was becoming so consuming that Van Diest believed he was failing as a husband, father, son, and friend.

Ultimately, after counsel with family, players, his colleagues, and clergy, Van Diest made the decision to rescind the resignation and continue coaching. But there would need to be changes in his life, a life with more balance between career and personal affairs. There would be more time off in the summer, and maybe finding a hobby. But Van Diest knew he needed to get his priorities straight before he could continue what he loves doing the most: coaching football.

The Van Diest story closely parallels the Urban Meyer story. Burned out as a coach at Florida, he resigned his head football coaching duties two years ago because of health reasons. But before his family would allow him to return to his love of coaching at Ohio State, they sat down together and set some personal ground rules that were ultimately written into a contract and signed by Meyer and his family. Less hours at the office; being home for dinner every night; taking time out to do family things; eating more healthy; establishing an exercise regimen to relieve stress. Meyer had to look himself in the eye and decide what his priorities in life needed to be.

Van Diest and Meyer can be considered the good guys of college athletics. You don't read their names associated with any scandals, criminal coverups, misappropriation of funds, academic cheating, or nepotism involving mistresses. They love to coach, but they know what kind of personal toll it can take on you.
They've pledged to change their lives for the better. All of us are hoping they can do it without any loss of satisfaction in their personal and professional endeavors.

Author's Bio: 

Steve Brennan, a former educator and college basketball coach, has Masters degrees in Educational Administration and Sport Psychology, and a Doctorate in Performance and Health Psychology. He is the author of several books, including Six Psychological Factors for Success and The Recruiters Bible (3rd Edition). He is President of Peak Performance Consultants, and the President and CEO of the Center for Performance Enhancement Research and Education (CPERE). Steve is the developer of the Success Factors Scales, both Corporate and Athletics Editions. http://www.peakperformanceconsult.com and http://thebestcollegerecruiter.com/