Ken O'Keefe knew he was going to a different world four months ago when he left his job as the Iowa football team's offensive coordinator to become the wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins.
The NFL isn't college football, where coaches have tight reins over almost everything. The NFL is sports/entertainment. The performers make more money than the directors, and make way more money than the assistant directors. The production company understand who sells the tickets and gets the television ratings, and it's not a football wonk wearing a headset.
O'Keefe knew that. But he didn't know he would face the following in his first NFL training camp:
1. The crew of HBO's "Hard Knocks" would be at the Dolphins' entire camp, filming anything and everything for their five-week series.
2. O'Keefe would be the position coach for none other than Chad Ochocinco, who signed with the Dolphins today.
The "Hard Knocks" thing should be no big deal for O'Keefe. The show tends to focus on the general manager (Jeff Ireland), the head coach (first-year Miami Coach Joe Philbin), a couple of name veterans (running back Reggie Bush, Ochocinco, maybe offensive tackle Jake Long), the first-round draft pick (quarterback Ryan Tannehill), and a handful of players on the bubble when it comes to making the team.
My guess is O'Keefe would politely decline to be on camera unless it was essential.
By the way, I think "Hard Knocks" is a fantastic program, must-see August viewing in my house. How they cobble together those shows so quickly is amazing, let alone make them compelling. They humanize NFL players and coaches, giving you a real sense of their struggles and challenges, and making all of them hard to root against.
The Ochocinco thing? Well, Ochocinco has been full of bluster and self-promotion (and for a long time, results) in his career, but he hasn't really been a headache-producer for his coaches. He became an invisible man of sorts for the New England Patriots last season and did little to help the Pats to the AFC title, but I don't recall him giving Bill Belichick any grief about it. Belichick would probably have cut him on the spot if Ocho had made waves.
But Ochocinco automatically moves near the head of the class of Dolphin wide receivers, who are about as undistinguished as any group of wideouts in the NFL. If you relied on any of these "veterans" on your fantasy league team, you were guilty of mismanagement: Devone Bess, Brian Hartline, Legedu Naanee, Chris Hogan, Clyde Gates, Roberto Wallace, Julius Pruitt, Marion Moore. Added to the mix are four rookies, including B.J. Cunningham of Michigan State.
Hey Ocho, Coach O'Keefe would like to know if you can you still get open and catch passes.
Here's a National Football Post column by Jack Bechta examining what the Dolphins face this season.