Towson football saga: Rob Ambrose is guilty of being tough…as are all quality coaches in sports

October 23, 2012 | Drew Forrester

As most of you know who have listened to me for the last decade, coaches are my favorite people in the world.  I can say this without hesitation (and I’ll recognize that even I, as a high school golf coach, possess some of this maniacal behavior) about coaches.  Almost all of them are nuts in their own way.  They are driven far, far, far more than any player on their roster, regardless of the sport.  If you think Ray Lewis is “driven” to win, I can guarantee you that John Harbaugh has him beat.  Not by much, perhaps, but I’ve never met a player in my life, EVER, who was more dedicated to winning than the coach of his team.

My guess is that no one at Towson University wants to win more than Rob Ambrose.  I also know that a season ago, on six separate occasions — and the public doesn’t know this — Ambrose suspended players for off-field issues that, perhaps, he could have let slide if winning was ALL that matterered to him.

Is Rob Ambrose guilty of yapping at his players with language that might make a sailor blush?

Yes, he is.

Are these the same words that nearly every single player in his locker room uses on a daily basis?  Most likely, yes.

In every locker room I’ve even been in – hundreds and hundreds – grown men behave in ways you’d never believe if you had the chance to watch it through a peep hole.  Foul language, sexual innuendo, open references to drugs and alcohol — it’s all there, every day, every team, every sport, everywhere.

If you are someone that has a personal issue with swearing or naked men walking around or practical jokes and chicanery, you probably shouldn’t even think about playing college or professional sports — that is, unless you have the ability to overlook those things you personally can’t and won’t endorse as acceptable.  No one in the locker room is going to stop swearing because you don’t use the F-word, I can assure you of that.

And yes, coaches at nearly every level of college and professional sports use foul language — including FEMALE coaches, it should be noted.

Does Rob Ambrose practice his players hard?

He sure does.

So do Joe Matthews and Pat Skerry, the two basketball coaches at Towson.

The Towson football program has elevated its level of play and success over the last two years.  That didn’t happen by osmosis or luck.  It happened because of effort.  Do the 96 players on the team have to work out and run and sweat and “focus” on football at 6am in the morning?  Yes indeed, they do.  That’s what happens when you’re a student-athlete and you SIGN UP to play on the team.  You give yourself over to the coach and his staff.

It’s also worth noting that Rob Ambrose hasn’t changed one iota from the guy who showed up here four years ago and inherited a room full of ne’er do wells who probably would have lost a best of three to Gilman.  Ambrose was loud and overbearing and demanding when he walked on the field for his first practice in 2009.  He was that way in 2010.  And again in 2011.  And he’s the same now, in 2012.

You didn’t hear this kind of bellyaching in 2010 when the Tigers were winning one game.

Suddenly, though, it’s become a big deal.

I’m not sure why, but that’s what happens when you’re successful.  Someone’s always laying in the weeds trying to trip you up.

In this case, Ambrose hurt a couple of kid’s feelings with his bad language and his demanding style.

He didn’t doctor any practice logs and he isn’t hiding anything from his administration or the NCAA.

And he most certainly didn’t order a “code red”.

No one got hurt.  No one lost a limb.

It’s football…so I’ll end this by simply saying — and as the coach himself might offer — “If you’re not tough enough to stick it out, f**k it…go take a cooking class.”


8 Comments For This Post

  1. charlie Says:

    good for you, drew. this does sound like malcontents who want to get noticed by denigrating towson’s recent grid success. you are right on. it’s good for towson to have a winning team, and ambrose is a winning coach. what’s better, losing but having your coach speak sweetly, or winning even if (because?) he’s tough? duh!

  2. Vince Fiduccia Says:

    Thanks Drew for a great article. A couple of immature and disgruntled teenagers cannot tarnish the amazing job Coach Ambrose and his staff has done at Towson. I hope the other players take care of these nitwits behind closed doors. This is just another example of the lack of respect our society has for authority. Sadly, it is two people blaming others for their own failures.

  3. TimNATC Says:

    We want Rob Ambrose in that position & most people cant handle the truth! Drew you are dead on with this. Rob Ambrose is an excellent coach and an even better person. I have spoken with athletic administrators at Towson and they would do anything to keep him or if they were at another school they would do anything to get him! The disgruntled players need to either get over it or leave the team it’s that simple. I for one would not want them on my team they are a cancer!

  4. P Gavin Says:

    Disgruntled athletes?? Who knew such creatures even existed. Probably think that Coach is ruining their chance at the NFL. Delusional… but probably were raised that way. I see it in youth sports all the time. Parents ask “How can my Johnny get better?” I tell them to read a book and study hard in school.

  5. justafan Says:

    Salty language is common in all sports. I sometimes sat directly behind the players bench at Clippers Hockey games. Some of the language coming from the bench was so “colorful” I would laugh so hard that tears would come from my eyes. I’m sure you could share some similar experiences with Kenny Cooper during your Blast days. If the Towson Football players are so offended by Coach Ambrose’s remarks, they had better learn to suck it up because if they have any thoughts of playing at a higher level, the language they hear will not get any better; in fact it might be worse!

  6. Chuck Smolkin Says:

    As a former high school English teacher, I am always impressed with the quality of your writing. Who taught you? Give him/her credit on your radio show.
    I listen every morning, and used to listen again at midnight. Thank you.

  7. B. Eaton Says:

    Great article.Now living in Florida so I try to keep up through the NST web site.
    It is unfortunate for a lot members of the team and the coaching staff that due to the lack of character and pride possessed by these individuals there will be a circus surrounding the football program for the foreseeable future.

  8. Laker Boy Says:

    Generally I agree with your opinions Drew, but just a couple of thoughts for you and the readership ponder. It seems like every summer we read about young athletes who have dropped dead due to heat exhaustion brought on by over exertion. Perhaps some were dehydrated, or perhaps their genetic make up made them pre-disposed to heat related problems, but routinely athletes pushed to their limits experience negative outcomes. Those types of situations occur, and “tough” coaches should be regulalry reminded about that potential. As for the cursing…there are some successful college programs, albeit they may be anomolies, who do not employ coaches who curse at their student athletes. BYU and Liberty University fall into that category. Lastly, I think that the notion that no one should discuss problems pertaining to the locker room, fosters an environment like we just witnessed at Penn State. I would be willing to wager that the kids brutalized by Jerry Sandusky wish that someone in a position of power would have spoken up years before an Assistant Coach witnessed first hand what folks “in the know” may have known for years. Those people in power acted with the mentality, “What happens in Happy Valley, stays in Happy Valley”. Of course, the Towson sitaution is no where near as horrific as PSU, but the same lack of principle is strikingly similar. (DF: Great point about Happy Valley and the locker room situation there…they are obviously much different in scale. What was going on up there was a crime. What happens in virtually every other locker room – as I noted – is NOT a crime. It’s Tom-Foolery…hi-jinx. Practical jokes, discussion of sex, drugs, etc. That’s what I meant by “what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room”. But your point about Penn State is VERY valid.)

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