Ah, those dreaded annual self-evaluations. You want to seem confident, but not arrogant. You want to admit faults, but hope everyone will believe you're just practicing humility. A self-evaluation is about as much fun as rubbing freshly cut onions in your eyes.
Pity Colorado College hockey coach Scott Owens.
He's currently working on his self-evaluation for the 2013-14 season, and this ranks as an especially excruciating juggling task. His self-evaluation is due April 1 to the office of CC athletic director Ken Ralph.
His Tigers are in ruins. They won seven of 37 games this season, including seven losses by four or more goals. This futility is more than a one-year collapse. Owens has twice won 30 games at CC, but in the past six seasons he claimed 20 wins only once. Since winning 28 games in 2007-08, he's won 101 of 225 games (with 28 ties.) He's led the Tigers to one NCAA Tournament victory since 2005.
I keep hearing, mostly from CC players, about the diligent effort delivered this season. We never gave up, the CC players say.
If these words are true, we can go ahead and bury the 2014-15 Tigers right now. Get your shovel and start digging.
If the Tigers offered every last iota of their effort and still won seven games, what happens if next season's team is not such a diligent group of ice laborers?
Fortunately for Owens and the Tigers, I think CC players are far too complimentary of themselves in their self-evaluation. The Tigers lacked talent, sure, but also declined to play with a roaring fire in their guts. The talent wasn't there. Neither was the required desire.
Owens is, despite his recent struggles, a superb motivator, but he faces an intimidating scenario as he attempts to mend his mutilated Tigers. If he doubles his win total next season to 14, he'll still be in trouble, and even if he triples his win total, a blase response awaits. Owens averaged 27 wins per season from 2000-2005, won five NCAA Tournament games and directed the Tigers to the Frozen Four. Nobody will dance on Cascade Avenue after a 21-win season.
As Owens completes his evaluation, he can point to a long list of strengths. He demands his players join him as a CC grad. Many of his players are active in the Colorado Springs community.
He's popular with CC faculty who admire his commitment to scholarship. This is a rare trait. College faculty usually growl at college coaches.
He's involved with CC alums. He's a hockey gentleman who refuses to throw tantrums on the ice. He realizes coaching a college team is about much more than a mere game.
But the games are paramount, at least to those purchasing tickets. That brings me to this question as CC seeks to sell tickets for 2014-15:
Do CC fans care about Owens excellence in his off-ice performance?
"You would have to ask them, wouldn't you?" Ralph said, answering my question with a question in the middle of a friendly phone interview. "Honestly, I hope they do. I hope it does matter to them that we bring in good students who are good for the community, I hope that does matter."
Owens must wonder, as he endures deserved scorn after this season from Hades, how well CC fans remember the not-so-distant past. For years, he oversaw one of the nation's most powerful, most entertaining, most reliable programs. For the first five seasons of the 21st century, CC fans enjoyed legit hope their favorite team would skate home with a national title.
Those fans, and Owens, now look forward as an embattled coach plots the resurrection of his hockey program.
But first, he must complete one of those pesky and oh-so tricky self-evaluations.