Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio’s heart attack early Sunday morning shined another light on college football coaches and the intensity of their profession.
“Most coaches have probably known this for years,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday. “It’s a different lifestyle; you have to take care of yourself. Is there more stress now than before? I don’t know. It’s certainly a more public job.
“When you’re in certain professions—coaching is one of them and probably university administration, politicians—you don’t just work your job, you live your job. You’re never really away from it. That probably adds more to it than it used to be. But you know that going into it. Some of it is just life in general, sometimes your health issues will come up.”
The issue of stress was the talk of college football last winter when Florida coach Urban Meyer said he was retiring because of health problems only to return after a brief leave of absence.
But Rodriguez conceded that both Dantonio, 54, and Meyer, 46, are relatively young men in great shape, just victims of an intense profession.
“You have to take care of yourself, but it’s hard to get away from your job,” he said. “You don’t leave the office, go home and leave your job at the office. That’s not possible to do in this kind of profession.”
Rodriguez, 47, said he sleeps five hours a night if he’s fortunate, no more than in a three-hour stretch, because of the constant thoughts about his program.
So how does he keep up his health?
Mostly through his own workouts, five days a week in the early morning on a StairMaster at Schembechler Hall. In the spring, he began lifting weights with Michigan strength coach Mike Barwis and said he feels better now than he has in a long time.
“What’s hard, a lot of coaches will tell you, it’s hard to devote the time,” Rodriguez said. “You want to watch the film and you’ve got a lot of things to do. But you have to. I’m sure all coaches are the same way. You encourage your staff to do it and when it’s lunchtime or early in the morning, give them some time to exercise and all of that because it’s a busy time and if you don’t devote yourself to it, you could get in trouble.”
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