I'm a season-ticket holder for University of Nebraska Cornhusker football games. Head coach Bo Pelini did not return to the field with his team to begin the second half against Arkansas State yesterday on Saturday afternoon, September 15, 2012. Radio reports indicated that he had fallen ill and was taken to a local Lincoln hospital for tests and observation. To say the least, the record 320th straight sellout crowd of 85,000+ were shaken by the news.

Pelini can be described as a classic Type A personality. Very intense. Very driven. Obnoxious at times on the sidelines. Not afraid to get into a referee's face to make a point. Heck, he called a timeout on the second play of the game to argue with the umpire for not giving his team enough time to check in defensive players to counter the quick offensive replacements of Arkansas State. By rule this season, the defense gets the time needed to substitute players before the ball is snapped. The umpire's job is to stand over the ball until all the defensive substitutions have arrived on the field and are in their correct position before moving away to allow the ball to be snapped. Bo was iritated that he thought Arkansas State was being allowed to substitute quickly and snap the ball before his defensive adjustments could take place. Bo won that arguments as the umpire, for the remainder of the game, steadfastly stood over the ball as both defenses were allowed to counter the offensive substitutions.

In game accounts, it was reported that Pelini left the sideline in the second quarter to sit on the team bench and have a team doctor check his pulse. At halftime, he supposedly told the ESPN sideline reporter during his interview that he was not feeling well, but that he'd be alright. But in the locker room at halftime, he was again treated by team doctors, and an ambulance was called to transport him to a local hospital. The team and assistant coaches responded well in his absence, winning the game 42-13.

Post-game interviews with the assistant coaches and players revealed that they were initially told that Bo's symptoms were cardiac-related. Outside media were reporting that Bo suffered from "flu-like symptoms." Pelini did issue a statement from the hospital following the game that he was fine, that all tests revealed there were no problems, and that he would return to work on Sunday. All of that was good news to Husker faithful.

The point of this blog is to document the health-related problems that many high-profile college head coaches had/are experiencing. Jim Calhoun, the Hall-of-Fame head men's basketball coach at UConn retired a week ago. He beat cancer three times, and was afflicted with several other injuries from bicycle accidents throughout his coaching career. He leaves a program that will not be allowed to compete in the NCAA tournament in 2013 because the graduation rates of his players did not meet NCAA standards.

Urban Meyer, the head football coach at Ohio State, retired from coaching at Florida in 2010 because of stress-related health problems. He stayed away for a year before getting back into coaching, but not before signing a contract with his family that he would avoid stress-related problems and would not put as many hours into the job as he did while at Florida.

Jerry Kill, the head football coach at the University of Minnesota, has collapsed twice on the sidelines during games in the past two seasons, and needed to be rushed to a hospital. Rick Majerus, the head men's basketball coach at Saint Louis University, is on medical leave for the 2012-2013 season because of a heart condition. Jay John, the head men's basketball coach at Oregon State, was also taken by ambulance to a hospital following a practice. Charlie Weis, the head football coach at Kansas and formerly at Notre Dame, had gastric bypass surgery a few years ago because he thought he was going to die from obesity when he hit 350 pounds on the scale.

What does this prove? It proves that coaching is a stress-related job, especially to the individuals leading a major-college athletic program. You say that these coaches make big bucks and knew the hazzards of the trade when they decided to become big-time coaches? You're probably right. And I'll also bet that all of these guys thought that they could handle the stress of the position when they took on the duties of a head coach.

What good can come from these examples? One response is that these head coaches can all develop some kind of stress management program to deal with future problems when they arise. Another response is that ALL coaches in all sports and on every level of competition become more health-conscious in their lifestyle.

Coaching is a great life. I know because I did it for over a decade. But there are so many more kinds of pressure and stress put on head coaches these days. A coach shouldn't need to die because of the added pressures that go with the job. Coaches just need to put the priority of their health right up there with getting the best recruits to come to their school. Once they make that personal commitment to taking care of their health, the longer they can stretch out that coaching career.

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