In Tuesday's "What Flowers May Bloom," it was revealed Stanton's head football coach, previously best known for cheating on his wife with a student's mother, is also a horrible mentor to the young men on his team. Even though Coach Strickland (Joe Tippett) said last week that he would like to take Gordy (Casey Johnson) under his wing after the teen was caught with a bottle of liquor in his locker, Coach told him this week he actually has no intention of following through on his promise.
After Gordy spends most of the episode moving the team's equipment around, he asks to cut to the part of their arrangement where they have a heart to heart and discuss his future and how he can change to achieve his dreams. You know, the defining moment of every sports movie or TV show ever made. "Oh, I don't do that," says Coach. "In fact, I don't like talking. I find it annoying."
Excuse me? How is this man a football coach at an underfunded school in a working class town in Middle America? How is this man entrusted to coach impressionable young men who might be looking at football as their only escape with an attitude like that? Honestly, it is no wonder Stanton (probably) isn't winning championships if this is how he acts with the teens on his team. But also, that wasn't even the worst of it; Coach Strickland, who had been rebuffed by Lilette's mother (Shirley Rumierk) earlier in the episode, eventually went on to tell Gordy that they both were "just putting one foot in front of the other." He said they needed to stay busy and do their work and hope that one day they'll feel better.
Did this dude just skip Inspirational Speeches 101 at Coaching School? Does he not understand the role he's supposed to play in this show about kids daring to dream? Does he not understand that he is the reason we're stuck in an endless cycle of Ted Mosby's most Mosby-esque moments? Think about what this show could have been if Coach Strickland had actually bothered to pay attention to the misguided youths in his care. He doesn't need to make Gordy run sprints up a hill in the pouring rain to teach him a lesson, but he could definitely stand to listen to the kid's problems. He could actually guide Gordy, who's clearly hurting because his father would rather be a parent to Maashous (Rarmian Newton) and direct a musical about the sexual awakening of teens than pay attention to his own children.
Sure, the implication of this moment between Coach and Gordy is that Coach Strickland is just as lost as Gordy so he has no words of wisdom for him. We're supposed to, I guess, feel bad that he's struggling because he is unhappy in his marriage and wants to be with someone who's not his wife. But you know what? No one feels bad for you, Coach. In fact, we're all really disappointed in you. Because you're neglecting the responsibilities granted to you by playing the role of Football Coach in a Small Town, we're stuck with an Inspiriational Figure who can't even figure out what stage right and stage left are.
As the great philosopher Tyra Banks once said, "If you were sick of being disappointed, you would stand up and you would take control of your destiny. Do you know that you had a possibility to win? Do you know that all of America is rooting for you?"
Look, I don't want to yell at you, Coach, but I was rooting for you. We were all rooting for you.
Rise airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.