Glasper vs. O’Brien

Eagle In Atlanta has an interesting post today about some controversy involving former BC and current NC State coach Tom O’Brien. The story, as detailed in this piece, is that O’Brien promised safety Ryan Glasper that he’d redshirt him last year while Glasper recovered from hip surgery. In the middle of the season, just after BC lost that heartbreaker to the Wolfpack, O’Brien went to Glasper and told him that he needed to play; O’Brien would NOT grant him a redshirt, so unless he wanted his career to be over, he needed to play then, injured or not.
Now, on the surface, the story sucks, especially as presented in this article. Coaches shouldn’t go back on their promises to their players and they shouldn’t put their guys in the position of possibly suffering a career-ending injury. But keep in mind that all of the information in this story comes from Glasper (and a few short quotes from some assistants) and remember that TOB probably hurt a lot of feelings when he bolted Chestnut Hill for another school in the same conference.
Another point to consider is that this sort of thing probably isn’t that uncommon, at least not the part about playing guys who were planning on redshirting. You hear it every year with teams that are struggling. Invariably, they have a few freshmen studs that they are hoping to redshirt, but under the pressure of losing, they put those guys on the field in the middle or even late in the season. Basically, those kids get an abbreviated and rushed start to their career, maybe playing in just a couple of games but burning a year of eligibility. Is that unethical, or is that just a coach doing whatever is in his power to win? Which is greatest, the obligation to the program as a whole, the obligation to a particular team or the obligation to an individual player? It’s a tough situation. Most coaches will tell you that they never sacrifice the present for the future, but the truth is that they do it all the time. The future isn’t guaranteed to any coach. Redshirt too many guys today and your predecessor may reap the benefits next year.
It’s an interesting story. If it went down exactly as described (and I bet it didn’t), then O’Brien is an asshole. But then, aren’t most football coaches assholes?