CSU Students: Get a free ticket to the Super Bowl!February 2, 2007
by Scott McCain, CSU Sports Information
|Jonathon Metzelaars (left) and Natalie Caldwell, just days before Super Bowl XLI|
The Super Bowl—the single biggest sports extravaganza in America—is taking place this Sunday, as if you hadn’t already been made aware by the non-stop past Super Bowl highlights on the ESPN network and advertisements by Fortune 500 companies encouraging you to watch their commercials during the Big Game (now we have commercials that promote commercials … interesting). More than 100 million people will watch at least some portion of the game on television, and a lucky population of 74,916 will have a ticket to watch the game at Dolphin Stadium. Out of those nearly 75 thousand, two Charleston Southern University students have scored free tickets to the 41st installment of the Super Bowl.
How can you be eligible for such a fantastic prize?
It’s possible through these three easy steps. One, your dad should get a job coaching in the National Football League. Two, he needs to find an organization with the most talented players, supportive management, the top coaching staff, and chemistry for all the above to jell into a conference championship team. Three, you should stay on your dad’s good side.
Natalie Caldwell and Jonathon Metzelaars have applied such a formula and will be making the trip to Miami on the merits of their fathers. Jim Caldwell is the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for the Indianapolis Colts, while Pete Metzelaars serves as the offensive quality control coach for the American Football Conference champions.
So, how unusual is it that Charleston Southern has two students whose parents are coaching in the Super Bowl—and the same team even? A quick review of the Colts’ and Bears’ websites shows 36 coaches listed. Our two coaches have an average of 3.0 children (Natalie has three brothers and Jonathon one), three of which are college age for an average of 1.5 children in college per coach. I’m sure the statisticians out there will scold me, but using this possibly non-representative sample would equal 54 college-age children of coaches participating in the Super Bowl. For two to be enrolled at CSU, that’s pretty coincidental. Or is it?
Charleston Southern University is a distinctly different institution of higher learning. Its academics are on par with other private and public institutions. CSU competes in NCAA Division I athletics. Continue down the line and Charleston Southern compares favorably with institution after institution. What sets it apart is the Christian mission and spiritual environment that won’t be found in 90% of colleges and universities across the country. Without infringing on GM’s Saturn division’s tagline, “A different kind of car company”, a case can be made that CSU is “a different kind of University” in a good sense, even the best sense.
After Colts’ owner and CEO Jim Irsay said while accepting the Lamar Hunt AFC championship trophy, “…as the humble leader of this organization, we’re giving all the glory to God right now”, I tried to recall another instance in my couple decades of following sports where a team spokesman made such a statement. We’ve heard players give credit and thanks to God, and maybe an occasional coach or two, but I couldn’t think of a single instance where a team OWNER on national television gave God the glory.
One such statement doesn’t make the Colts a “Christian” organization, nor does it make Mr. Irsay or anyone else a Christian. A changed life is evidence of an encounter with Christ. Reacting to negative events in a way that exhibits the fruit of the Spirit is evidence of an encounter with Christ.
Tony Dungy is well-known as a Christian coach and held up as an example by organizations such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes. While I’ve never met Mr. Dungy, every account of him leads me to believe that his life is lived in a way that pleases God. I submit to you a pair of examples from last season that show how Christians are to react to negative circumstances.
January 15, 2006: The Steelers come to the RCA Dome and outplay the Colts, yet Indy finds a way to rally from a 21-3 deficit to trail by only three late in the game. When kicker Mike Vanderjagt misses the game-tying field goal with 21 seconds remaining, one of CBS’ cameras is fixed on Dungy. On the replay, you can read Dungy’s lips. His reaction to being ousted from the playoffs in a season where Super Bowl expectations abounded was “He missed it”. That was the extent of it. He didn’t rip off his headset or get in someone’s face. You wouldn’t want to read the lips of most NFL coaches after such a play. Imagine what reaction John Gruden—Dungy’s replacement in Tampa Bay—might have had; I’ve read his lips after an interception, something relatively minor compared to a season-ending missed field goal. It would not be slanderous to say that there’s a good reason the networks do not “wire” or “mic up” Mr. Gruden. He has a reputation. Dungy has an equal and opposite reputation.
December 22, 2005: Four days after the San Diego Chargers hand the Colts a loss and end their bid for a perfect season, Dungy is handed a loss that overshadows a football game a million fold: the death of his son James. Colleagues past and present reported that Dungy relied on his faith then, just as he does every other day. While Satan wants to tempt us with the “curse God and die” line of thought when things go wrong, Dungy, like Job of the Old Testament, stayed the course and retained his integrity and testimony.
Jim Caldwell, second in command to Dungy, was the former head coach at Wake Forest, a Baptist university. “He’s a godly man,” says Natalie, shooting guard for the Lady Buccaneers’ basketball team, “and well-respected because of the way he lives his life. [Athletes say] that sometimes a coach is one man when he’s recruiting you, but when you show up there to play he’s a different man. The coach put up a good front to get them there. My dad’s not like that. He’s the same man behind closed doors as he is in public or on the sidelines.”
Pete Metzelaars--who is no stranger to Super Bowls, having played in four of them as a Buffalo Bill in the 1990s—has a good testimony as well. He has served as the offensive coordinator at Charlotte Christian School and one season as an assistant at Wingate University, another Baptist institution. “Dad’s personal philosophy, and what he has taught us, is ‘Whatever you do, you always put God first’ whether it be sports or anything else,” Jonathon relates. Jonathon’s older brother Anthony was a standout athlete at Wingate, quarterbacking the football team and playing intercollegiate golf.
Natalie was recruited to come to Charleston Southern by former head coach Stephanie Yelton. Yelton was an assistant basketball coach at Wake Forest during Jim Caldwell’s tenure with the Demon Deacons. UNC Asheville and Coastal Carolina had both expressed interest in Natalie, but she hadn’t heard of CSU until Yelton contacted Mr. Caldwell and asked about Natalie’s college plans.
“I visited and liked the Christian environment and great atmosphere,” Natalie says. “The demands on a college athlete were more than I expected, compared to high school, but CSU is exactly what I thought it would be.” Natalie is having her best season yet in terms of both production and health.
Jonathon first encountered CSU on a football visit, having played quarterback at Indian Land High School, but enrolled for non-athletic reasons, falling in love with the University for its academics and Christian environment. Gifted athletically like his brother, Jonathon will try to fill a spot on the golf team next year as a walk-on.
When everything is factored in—the faith found in the Colts’ organization and its coaching staff, the Baptist connections, and the distinctly Christian mission that exemplifies Charleston Southern—it’s not a coincidence at all that two CSU students are going to the Super Bowl as a part of their fathers’ allotments of tickets.
It's more along the lines of God's providence.