My good friend, Roger, and I sat through the entire, sorry University of Kentucky/Western Kentucky University football game last night. It was just another of many inexplicable UK losses we’ve watched over the years. UK football games are like watching Old Yeller. You know how it ends. You know you’ll be sad, but you watch it anyway.
Inspiration is the bastard child of bitter defeat. No one ever said that. I just made it up, but feel free to quote me. After the game, we were bemoaning the loss–on a trick-play, two point conversion that a high school team could have stopped. Of course, we need a new coach. Except for a few random seasons, that’s pretty much the constant state of affairs for our beloved Wildcats.
My optimism for this season was short-lived. Coach Joker Phillips has jumped from the hot seat into the cauldron. A coaching changes seems inevitable now, as does a two win season.
Our first thought was to go contrarian and hire the worst coach we can find. Maybe Bobby Hauck at UNLV (4-21 in his first two seasons). How about Indiana’s coach, Kevin Wilson? He went 1-11 in his first season. Just hire the worst we can find and accept our fate. Then, Roger had inspired thought: Why not hire someone who’s NEVER coached football on any level?
He suggested hiring himself, which is just foolish. He lives in another state. It would be very inconvenient. I, on the other hand, live right here in Lexington. I officially declare myself a candidate. Not only a candidate. The only candidate.
Except for some limited experience in my backyard, I’ve never played football. I never even seriously considered it. I was too small, and I don’t like getting hit. I also don’t like getting dirty. This is an advantage. Many great athletes make poor coaches because they don’t understand why their players can’t perform at a high level. This won’t be a problem for me. Almost anyone would be a better athlete than I ever was. I’ll be impressed by pretty much everything.
I’m 50 years old. That’s the prime of the my professional life. After 25 years practicing law, I’m ready for a new challenge. Bring it on.
I’ve watched a lot of football. I mean A LOT. College, NFL, Arena League–even Canadian Football. I even watched the XFL. According to the radio call-in shows, watching football makes one an excellent football coach. I’ve also played a lot of Madden Football. Hundreds, if not thousands, of games. I’m a good strategist.
I’m also a UK alum–two times, in fact. Add to that my 40 year allegiance to the football program, and I bring an every man quality to the job that other candidates lack. I remember all the bitter defeats. I’ll cry and carry on after every loss just like a fan, because that’s what I am. In fact, I’ll call for my own firing if we lose. Fans will love me.
My contract will be simple. Here are my terms:
- $500,000 base salary–easily the lowest in the Southeastern Conference.
- $100,000 bonus for each win. I’ll guarantee you that I’ll do anything to win if I get 100 large.
- Discretion to hire my friends as assistant coaches.
- Two days a week off. I’m used to working 5 days a week. I can’t really change that at my age.
- A provision that excuses me for NCAA violations. As a low-paid coach, I can’t be expected to learn all that legal mumbo jumbo.
- No long-term deal or buyout needed. If you want to fire me, do it. I don’t care.
We’ll have this deal wrapped up in about 15 minutes.
You probably think I can’t recruit. Oh, how wrong you are on that one. First, I’ll completely ignore the NCAA rules and be open about it. We know that all coaches operate in the gray areas of the rules, anyway. I’ll head straight to the black area. You want a car? You got it. Cash? Sure. A house? You’ll have to be pretty damn good for that, but it’s doable. Now, if I give you this stuff and you suck, I want it back. That’ll be some good incentive.
The best part is that my lack of coaching skill will be a selling point. The first thing I’ll do is ask some recruiting nerd to identify the best quarterback in the country. Then, I’ll go to his house. Here’s my recruiting pitch:
Okay, son, here’s the deal. If you want to be the best quarterback in the country, UK is your school. Why? Because you’ll call every play we run. All of them. Why? Because I don’t know a damn thing about football. You can throw it every down if you want. Trick plays, everyone out for a pass. I won’t give a shit. And don’t worry about that headset I wear. It’s hooked to my iPod. If you want a nanny to wipe your nose or someone to treat you like an idiot, go to one of these “power” schools. I’ll admit that UK isn’t for everyone, but you’ve got what it takes. Want a car?
We’ll have so many quarterbacks, I wouldn’t know what do with them even if I actually did know what I was doing. If I need an offense lineman, here’s the pitch:
ME: How much you weigh?
PLAYER: About 260, sir.
ME: If you can put on 100 pounds, we want you.
PLAYER: Sir, I’m willing to work hard in the weight room.
ME: Weeeellll, that’s one way, I guess. Really, if you can just eat like a pig that will work, too. We want the biggest players we can get. I don’t care if they’re fat. I want the offensive line to average 350–or even bigger. We don’t really waste a lot of time on things like “technique” and weird blocking schemes. We’re going for bulk. Want a car?
What kid could resist that? A full scholarship and permission to eat like a horse. Plus, a car. They’ll line up.
I don’t have the patience to deal with a bunch of know-it-all so-called football “coaches.” Besides, we’ve had entire staffs full of these guys and still suck. I’ll hire whomever I want.
I won’t have offensive or defensive coordinators. That’s too complicated. The quarterback will call all the plays. On defense, they can just line up however they want. As far as I know, there aren’t any illegal defensive formations. 10 linemen? Let’s give it a shot. Blitz on every play? Why not? I’ll have only one defensive play: TACKLE THE GUY WITH THE DAMN BALL! How you do that is up to you. I need self-starters–not a bunch of mama’s boys who expect me to figure out everything for them.
There is one play I will run–the strongside toss/stiff arm. Years ago, Roger and I were both quite good at EA Sports NCAA Football. At the time, Anthony White was UK’s tailback. In my games, the toss to White to the strongside always resulted in large gains because of his crippling stiff-arm. If I recall correctly, Roger once rushed for 700 yards in a game using that play. It’s all in the timing. I may even bring Anthony in to teach it or I can just show it on a video game.
One thing won’t do is punt, except on first down sometimes. Then, it will be a quick kick by the quarterback designed to stun the defense and to put up ridiculously long punting yardage averages.
I also won’t waste a lot of time on practice. Our teams have practiced and practiced over the years and have almost nothing to show for it. Here’s what we’ll do. All the big guys will hit each other. All the fast guys will have balls thrown or handed to them. All the white guys will practice kicking. After a couple of hours of that, we’ll talk about our next opponent to see if anyone has seen them play and has suggestions. That’s it. Oh, and all the practices are open to the media and fans, even to opposing coaches. I’ve got nothing to hide, plus someone might have some ideas.
I won’t be a disciplinarian. I have three children whom I dearly love. I’ve not been much of disciplinarian with them. I can hardly be expected to be one with someone else’s kids. In fact, I won’t really care what they do. They can smoke and drink if they want. During games. We’ve played many games over the years where our players (and coaches) appeared to be drunk. Why not give it a real shot and see what happens? Imagine the shock if a huge Alabama defensive tackle lines up and sees our lineman dragging on a Marlboro. We’ll win the psychological war before the ball is even snapped.
I do expect some effort in class. Just enough to stay eligible will be fine. I don’t want a bunch of eggheads who think they’re better than I am.
This may be my one weak point. I am overly sensitive to criticism, especially when it is valid. One might also say that I’m volatile and dangerously so on occasion. I am subject to unprovoked fits of pique. I tend to hold grudges over both real and imagined slights. I will need tamp down these and other psychological problems. To build strong media and fan relationships, I will do the following:
- In an effort to stay in a good mood, I will never watch game film. If we’ve won, I’ve obviously done a good job and don’t need to do anything else. If we’ve lost, I’ll just get depressed if I see what our next opponent looks like. Obviously, as a fan, I’d never watch any of our own defeats. Why subject myself to that?
- Personally recruit the greatest flautist in the country to prance about the field playing the entire Jethro Tull catalogue at each game. Aqualung will become our fight song.
- Take my medication.
- Engage the fans by asking for play calls via Twitter during the games.
- Insist on being introduced as the head coach of the “Greatest Program in the History of College Football.”
- Have Nike make an array of garish uniforms. Each player can wear whatever he wants each game.
- Punch Steve Spurrier in the throat.
- End our decades long losing streak to Florida by constant prayer that their entire team be stricken with a non-serious disease that will debilitate them for only 3-4 hours.
- IF we lose a game, I will start my post-game press conference by saying: “We meant to lose.”
- Buy O.J. Simpson’s Heisman Trophy and then claim that I won it.
These are but a few of the things which come to mind. Mostly, I’ll try to be like the fan I am. If we lose, I will call-in to radio shows and demand my own firing. I’ll tailgate before and even during games. I’ll treat the media with disdain by calling them “ink-stained wretches” or I’ll kiss up to them depending on my many moods. I’ll call our fans the greatest in all the world until I get booed. Then, I will consistently refer to them as a bunch of miserable jackasses spoiled by success. I promise that it won’t be boring.
I predict great things. I’m certain I can win two games or so a season, which will make me quite successful by UK standards. Even if the heat is on, I’ll get 4 or 5 years to implement my system. By then, I’ll have knocked down a boatload of money anyway.
If things get really bad, I’ll wreck a motorcycle or start betting on games or coach a game naked or something that will make it easy to get rid of me. Then, I’ll get a gig at ESPN as a football expert–the last bastion of washed out coaches.
Even if we only eke out one more win this year (I hope Samford is REALLY bad), we all have something to look forward to now. Go Cats!