The term “good recruiters” has been used by college football head coaches for years in reference to their wives. Essentially what it means is that a coach who’s good at recruiting should have an attractive wife. The idea, while a little tired (and pretty insulting, since it means using your wife as a prop, but I digress), is still commonly used in the sport. In fact, in a recent interview with CBS Sports, FAU head coach Lane Kiffin says he judges coaches’ recruiting tactics by their wives.
“He’s got a beautiful wife,” Kiffin said of hiring his new offensive coordinator, 24-year-old Charlie Weis Jr. “How’d Charlie get her? I look at assistant coaches’ wives. It tells me if they are good recruiters or not.”
Hey, wanna know something ironic? Lane Kiffin, folks, is divorced. In 2016, he and his ex-wife Layla announced they were getting divorced after 12 years of marriage. So, if Kiffin’s theory is true, what’s that say about his recruiting tactics?
Look, the analogy comparing recruiting skills and who you marry as a head coach makes some sense, but even if it’s a joke, it’s a played out one. As Andy Hutchins pointed out after Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre used the phrase during his introductory presser in 2012, there are a good bit of reasons why using it is pretty problematic:
If Hot Wife Theory is purely a joke, it’s not a good one
I wonder if Trisha MacIntyre was told that she would be used as a prop in yesterday’s press conference; her sort of grimace and head shake in the video suggests she didn’t really enjoy it. I doubt she was even warned, and though I’d bet that there are occasional conversations between coaches and their wives that touch on the idea that wives are used as recruiting tools, it strains credulity to think that the women have the agency in that decision.
Many of the women I know would blanch at the idea of being used as evidence of their significant other’s salesmanship -- which is how Trisha MacIntyre was used -- even in close company. I can’t imagine their reactions to being put on display as that evidence in public.
Further, the fraternity of college football media members doesn’t have enough women in its ranks (yet) to make the audience for jokes like this less, not more, receptive. The lack of women on the football beat helps things like this quote get passed around like funny jokes and not cringe-worthy shows of sexism.
And yet someone in that Colorado presser said, “I can’t think of a better note to end on,” after that bit, which, yikes.
Hot Wife Theory is objectifying
Speaking of being “put on display”: my SB Nation colleague Bomani Jones made a great point about this at the time.
whenever the words "set" and "out" appropriately describe what you did to your wife, you went about it the wrong way.— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) December 11, 2012
Mike MacIntyre set his wife out as, at best, either a punchline or a piece of evidence. Without having seen a picture of her until I started writing this article, I had no idea what she looked like, but the context clue that she could stand (and was therefore not disabled) and was being used by a white male college football coach as a prop led me to believe she conformed to a certain American standard of beauty.
No, I’m not trying to stand on a soapbox here, or put Kiffin on blast. But in the future Lane, if you’re going to say you judge coaches by their wives in an interview, maybe you should just keep in mind the irony of you saying that.