We sat down with Coach John Beam of Laney College to talk about his experience of being featured on Last Chance U, as well as his coaching philosophy and much more.
The final football instalment of Last Chance U arrived on our screens this week, and like any self-respecting football fan I dedicated my evenings to getting acquainted with the latest bunch of misfit players striving to get recruited into a big time college programme.
My expectations for this season were high, perhaps unrealistically so. You can see why Netflix have decided to progress the show onto a different sport – there was just no oomhph. No Fireworks.
Real talk: There was no Buddy Stephens. The show has never been able to recapture the emotional turmoil inflicted by watching the fiery tempered coach go off on his team in Season 1. Yes, it was extreme, but It was effective. And it made for excellent television. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Coach Beam. He seemed to genuinely care about his players, and really wanted to see them succeed. He definitely ranks above Jason “JB” Brown in the hierarchy of LCU coaches.
I liked this season, but I didn’t love it. And I think the reason being is that Last Chance U has deteriorated into a pseudo reality TV show. This affliction started in part 2 of Independence College; players were signing up to play football there with the sole goal of getting on TV and getting noticed. You can’t blame them for this – some Division One coaches (cough Lane Kiffin cough) are notorious for picking up players who feature. But this trend has undoubtedly contributed to the overall feeling of “shtick” I get from the show. The football players are playing up to the camera, and playing down any mistakes they might make. Cornerback Rezjohn White is a prime example of this. While he is unquestionably talented and ended up with scholarship offer to Oregon State, he gave up a couple of big plays and ultimately sat out a large part of the season.
There was one redeeming quality to this season, well technically two. Dior Walker-Scott and Nu’u Taugavau. Honestly these two were the only reason I connected to the show and stuck it out. I was really rooting for these boys to succeed and to make it. They overcame obstacles and adversity with grit and determination and I truly hope they do well at the next level. If you watched the show and weren’t quietly pulling for these two to get recruited then there’s something wrong with you inside.
(Honourable mention to another of the featured players, Wide Receiver RJ Stern. You can understand his frustration at not getting targeted with enough passes, but his constant whining began to grate after a while.)
Overall, it was a refreshing change of pace to get an insight into a substantially different program, in a vastly diverse environment. But having said that, I wouldn’t be in a rush back to Laney College.