Arkansas - The prospect of being a head football coach has always been something of a dream for 25-year-old tech CEO Nick Bhardwaj. So when a recent visit to ESPN.com to check scores revealed a story about a unique fundraiser at Arkansas State University in which the school was auctioning off an opportunity to coach its football team during the spring game, Bhardwaj quickly jumped at the opportunity. When the week-long eBay auction closed Monday, Bhardwaj’s $11,700 bid was the highest.
“It’s something I probably never thought I’d get to experience in my life,” Bhardwaj said by phone Tuesday, a day before he was expecting to depart the San Francisco area where he lives and works for Jonesboro. “Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s a spring game. But it should pretty much feel as real as possible, I’m hoping.”
The auction, which raised money for the Red Wolves Foundation, promised the winner to be head coach for the game, wearing a headset on the sideline, choosing what plays to call and even getting a “Powerade bath” on the sidelines when the game ends.
The coach could make all sorts of questionable football calls, like going for it on every fourth down or calling trick plays with regularity. But, Bhardwaj said, he takes the responsibility seriously. He’s already “done his homework,” researching ASU Coach Blake Anderson’s coaching style, looking at tape of other high-speed offenses, reviewing the roster and even spending time calling plays virtually in the NCAA 2014 video game.
“For me, I want to hit the ground running,” Bhardwaj said. “I’m not that guy who’s going to call a flea-flicker every three plays. I want to immerse myself so it feels like a real coaching experience.”
That means paying attention to less glitzy coaching duties like ensuring the right ratio of pass plays to run plays are called as the game progresses, Bhardwaj said.
“The one thing I don’t take lightly is this is still a meaningful game to the coaching staff,” he said. “They’re trying to see where the players are at.”
Natural Motion this year was bought by Zynga for more than $500 million. Bhardwaj left to focus on his own mobile gaming startup, Beyond Games, but he’s happy to take a break for a few days to try a different career path.
First of all this is absolutely awesome. Getting to coach a college football team and actually having control and getting to call plays and shit based off of what you learned in NCAA 2014. Totally worth the $12K. My only thing is why settle for a Spring Game at Arkansas State? Why some meaningless game for a meaningless program? Just because they’re the ones having an eBay bid for a head coaching job? Doesn’t mean you need to take that and be happy. Don’t lower your standards like that dude. Your company just got bought out for $527 MILLION! Pony up some more of that cash and get yourself a job wearing the headsets on the sideline of an Alabama regular season game. I want to see you calling a goal line play for LSU in Death Valley. I want to see you running down the sidelines next to Red Lightning as Jameis Winston executes your touchdown play to perfect. Now THAT would be amazing. Some random bro with an NCAA 2014 on Xbox playbook determining the national championship game. Money rules everything my man, make it happen.