The Joy of Kentucky Football

kentucky-football-helmet

I am a lifelong fan of University of Kentucky sports–basketball and football being my major loves.  Our basketball Wildcats have a storied history of success, winning more games than any collegiate program ever.  Add to that eight NCAA titles and numerous Final Four appearances, and being a fan is easy and rewarding.  Football, though, is another story altogether.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about our football woes. This was during the throes of one of our many downward spirals. I touched on the strength of our fans.  It’s time to give us our due.

WOE IS US

For all our basketball success, our football fortunes have been star-crossed, at best.  Football is the yin to basketball’s yang.  We are the Yankees of basketball and the Cubs of football.  Worse, we are the Kentucky of football and not in the basketball sense.

I could catalog the failures of our gridiron Cats, but I won’t.  Let’s just say that my Cats haven’t had much success.  Really, we haven’t had any success compared to the successful college football programs.  We also have the misfortune of playing in the Southeastern Conference, home of such traditional football powers as Alabama, Florida, LSU and Auburn.  Even the SEC’s lesser lights like Ole Miss, Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas have proud football traditions.  I assure you that any fans of those schools would be enraged to hear them called lesser lights.  We UK fans would just nod and consider “lesser light” to be a compliment–a solid notch above doormat.

I’m writing this as a lament about UK football.  I’m here to praise it and us, its loyal fans.  I know the history as well as anyone. I remember losing a game on TWO pass interference penalties the covered almost an entire field as time expired.  We’ve lost as time expired too many times to count.  We’ve lost to teams that had no business playing an SEC team.  We can win 1 or 2 games and still be put on probation for recruiting violations.  Yes, we cheat, too, but we don’t even win.  One of our coaches, Bill Curry, referred to a portion our fan base as “the Fellowship of the Miserable.” Few of us disagreed.

We don’t stay for wins, and we don’t leave because of losses. Sure, one or two win seasons are tough. We gut them out. It doesn’t matter if brighter skies are not on the horizon. Let’s see other fans do that.

KEEPING IT REAL

We’re real fans, more so than the devoted following of our basketball team (of which I am certainly one).  It’s easy to cheer for a perennial winner.  What of a team which disappoints or, even worse, plays down to our lowest expectations?  We still show up to the games. We watch them on TV. We hold out hope, where no sane man would.  I have a friend who routinely predicts a 9 win season, even though that never happens. This, he maintains, will be our year.

Like all fans, we embrace victories as proof of our own superiority. Young men, barely out of high school, give us a sense of well-being. We call their success our own, as though we contributed to their efforts.  Kentucky fans, though, also embrace the losses. We are not a “we” win “they” lose crowd. However, we know that there will be games–many, in fact–which we cannot win. This does not dampen our enthusiasm.

We have no Bandwagon Fans. What are Bandwagon Fans? Anyone who becomes a fan of a team at the height of its success without another explanation such as geographic proximity. For example, if you became a University of Alabama football fan during the past four years, you are likely a Bandwagon Fan. Bandwagon Fans typically live far away from their chosen school and have no academic or family connection. They aren’t bad people, but they just aren’t as hard-core as some of us. If their team falls on hard times, they can just jump to another.

If anyone jumped on the UK Bandwagon, it was back in 1950 when we won the Sugar Bowl. If you’re that old, I’ll give you a pass.

Some of us, like me, are alumni.  As at all colleges, we alums have a special bond. It’s our school.  We’re honor bound to support our teams, regardless of the pain. Many are not graduates. UK has a statewide following, much like a professional sports team. This is certainly the case with basketball, where the fan base extends border to border. Our basketball fans include many folks who not only have never attended a game, they have never set foot on campus.

While the numbers are not as great, we have those folks in our football fan base as well. They have no school allegiance obligating this devotion. They’re fans, pure simple. One thing is certain. They didn’t develop their devotion through watching our Cats dominate.

There was time when we’d pack Commonwealth Stadium regardless of our Cats’ prospects. Times change and so have we. Like all fans, we have many other sports options.  Back in the ’80’s, you might have 2 or 3 games on TV over the weekend. Now, there are games on all day and night. Only the truest of the true Blue make it to every game now.  It’s like belonging a club.  We show up rain or shine, win or lose or just plain lose.  There’s something admirable about that.  Or sad.

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE REASONABLE

My wife and I look happy, even though it's likely that this was taken in the midst of a crushing defeat.

My wife and I look happy, even though it’s likely that this was taken in the midst of a crushing defeat.

For many college football fans, every season comes down to one game–a loss.  One loss scuttles the whole season.  That loss is the difference between contending for the BCS Championship and a disappointing one or two loss season. I can’t imagine that situation nor do I want to do so.

Even UK fans can have a season ruined by one game.  With us, it’s usually the Louisville game.  We really want to win that one. Some seasons, we only win a couple of games anyway. Losing to U of L just seems unfair. However, if the Cats finished, say, 9 and 3, we’d get over a U of L defeat.  Not so at schools like Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and others.  For those teams, the three losses would be catastrophic. While a UK coach might look forward to a multi-year contract extension, coaches at these schools would find their very value as human beings questioned.

I don’t want that. We already have enough of that with our basketball team. My dream is having a shot–a real shot–at the SEC Championship every few years. In the other years, we’d still be respectable–no more one win fiascos.  I don’t want to spiral into a funk with every loss.  We have basketball season for that.

It’s fun to upset teams. We beat LSU when they were No. 1. We won’t forget that. Or beating Tennessee with a wide receiver at quarterback. Or finally beating Steve Spurrier. Merely losing to UK can ruin a team’s season. If we were a great program, those instances would be little more than footnotes.

As I write this, the 2014 season is one week old.  My Cats are 1-0!  Our second year coach, Mark Stoops, impresses me. He’s not a Kentuckian, but he understands us. He preaches patience but knows the Cats can do better. Hey, that sounds like me! I wish him great success (just as I have his many predecessors).  However, I confess that the prospect of success scares me. We’ll no longer be Punter U. We won’t look at the schedule and immediately write off 3 or 4 games.  We might actually expect to win every game.  That’s a lot of pressure for a fan.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2014

Whither the Cult of Tebow?

Not surprisingly, the Patriots released Tim Tebow. I doubt this diminishes his popularity among his die-hard fans. If anything, it will give them a brief respite until he resurfaces in the Canadian Football League or among the army of TV talking heads.  His release is likely, however, to end the NFL chapter of one of the more bizarre sports stories of my life time.

Tebow’s popularity in the NFL far exceeded his collegiate fame, which was substantial.  At the University of Florida, Tebow played on two national championship teams and won the Heisman Trophy.  He threw and ran for touchdowns like no one before him.  As we have seen in the few years since he left Florida, this may have had more to do with the changing nature of the quarterback position than his unique skills. He was nevertheless an exciting and dynamic presence at Florida.

His Christianity was on full display at Florida, too.  He wore Bible citations instead of eye black, prayed on the field and spoke openly of his faith.  This, of course, caught the attention of Christians (especially those of an evangelical stripe).  Others found this overbearing–even obnoxious.  Regardless, we all wanted someone who played like him at our alma maters.  As a result, he was a polarizing figure, as is usually the case with popular athletes.  Many love them, and many love to hate them.

Despite his college success, Tebow was never viewed as anymore than a borderline NFL prospect.  Prior to the 2010 Draft opinions varied.  Draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. didn’t think Tebow could play quarterback in the NFL.  Former NFL Coach Jon Gruden disagreed.  His best shot, according to many, would be to change positions.  His future was brighter as a tight end or H-back.  After all, many college quarterbacks have made similar transitions in the NFL.  Tebow’s size, strength and athleticism would allow him to do the same.

Tebow had different plans.  So did the Denver Broncos who surprised the NFL by using a 1st round draft pick on Tebow in the 2010 draft.  Denver’s young head coach, Josh McDaniels, planned to play Tebow at quarterback, and Tebow had no intention of changing positions.  He and the Broncos were the perfect match.

I was one of the misguided few who believed Tebow would be an effective, if not star, NFL player. This only proves my inability to assess quarterback play. Several years ago, my alma mater–the University of Kentucky–had an outstanding QB named Andre Woodson. He was big, strong armed and smart. He also had poor footwork and a slow release. I thought some NFL guru would fix that. It didn’t happen. I don’t think he ever took a snap in a regular season game.  Even though Woodson and Tebow had many of the same throwing issues, I thought the Broncos got a steal.  For awhile, it looked like I might be right.

After a rookie season where he played sparingly, Tebow got his shot as a starter in 2011 under new coach John Fox.  With Tebow at the helm the last ten games, the Broncos went 7 and 3.  Tebow was hailed as a hero–perhaps a savior, if that is not too insensitive.  I felt vindicated until I watched him play.  Yes, the Broncos won, but Tebow’s play was wildly up and down.  Big plays were followed by inexplicably bad ones–overthrows, misread defenses and just plain bad throws.  “He just wins” was the defense.  The Broncos opted to sign Peyton Manning, another quarterback who wins, plus makes every throw a quarterback can make.

Tebow then spent one forgettable season with New York Jets where he couldn’t get on the field.  When he did play, he was ineffective.  His fans blamed Coach Rex Ryan.  After his release by the Jets, his old coach Josh McDaniels, now the Patriots’ offensive coordinator gave him another shot.  If anyone could make it work, McDaniels and the Patriots could.  They couldn’t.

There are 5 QB attributes : size; vision; arm strength; accuracy; and footwork. Of these, arm strength is the least important. Joe Montana didn’t have a cannon arm. Jeff George did. An arm needs to be strong enough. That’s it.  The other four attributes can be honed in the NFL but rarely are they ever discovered at that level of play.

Of these qualities, Tebow has one–size. His arm strength is below average as is his accuracy–too many off target throws floated to covered receivers. He also doesn’t see the field well. He holds the ball too long or runs when he should wait for a play to develop. He often throws off the wrong foot and his release is slow and mechanical. By the time he loads up a throw, his receivers are covered.

tebow

See how the ball is upside down? That little hitch can be what separates a college and pro quarterback.

Too harsh? No. Professional sports are perhaps the last meritocracy. If you can help a team win, there is a place for you. The need to win is immediate and construction projects are rarely taken on. Even when they are, the time line is short.

I should note that  I like Tebow or, more accurately, I like what he appears to be. He seems to be a nice, sincere young man. I don’t doubt that he is a devout Christian. None of that matters in the context of the NFL.

I grew up in the 1970’s. With maybe the exception of Muhammad Ali, the most popular American athlete was a running back for the Buffalo Bills. There were action figures of him sold to kids–my brother had one. He made movies. His games were broadcast on national TV. He made commercials. His name was–and is–Orenthal James Simpson. If you said “O.J.” or “the Juice” everyone knew the player to whom you referred. His name still resonates, albeit for entirely different reasons.  NFL teams would line up for the next O.J.  They would certainly hope he was a better human being than the original, but most teams would take their chances.  As a hard-core fan, I can tell you that I would rather have a team full of O.J.s than good people who can’t play.

(It is possible to so rotten a person that no NFL will want you, but it takes some doing.  Just ask Tebow’s former Florida teammate, Aaron Hernandez.)

On the same day Tebow was cut loose,  Vince Young and Matt Leinart were also released the same day.   They were also college stars and “winners.”  NFL quarterbacks? No. They just aren’t good enough.  They faced the same fate as Tebow.  This is where some Tebow fans will disagree with me.

Tebow fans fall into two categories.  One is the run of the mill football fan, those who like players who wear the correct uniform.  If you’re a Jet fan, and he’s a Jet, you like him.  The other group is those who liked, even loved, him because of his religion.  To this latter group, Tebow was more than a football and to be judged on something other than his skills.  This mushroomed Tebow’s popularity above that of the typical NFL player.

Tebow is hardly the first devoutly religious professional athlete.  For example, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch on Yom Kippur.  Since this predated evangelical Christianity’s current embrace of Judaism, he was hardly lauded for this stance.  Akeem Olajuwon drew questions about his observance of Ramadan while starring in the NBA.  Muhammad Ali drew much flak for his conversion to Islam.   Make no mistake, it is Christianity, not religion, which helped elevate Tebow above his peers.  This is where Tebow is different.

There is a strong feeling among many that Tebow should be a good quarterback.  Good people should do well.  One need look no further than another Florida quarterback to see that it doesn’t work like that.  Danny Wuerffel was Tebow before Tebow.  He played at Florida.  He is a devout Christian.  He won the Heisiman Trophy.  He also tried for years to succeed as an NFL quarterback.  Wuerffel was never more than a journeyman back up.  That doesn’t make him a bad person, of course, just a bad quarterback (at least by the exacting standards of the NFL).

Christians, like most religions, embrace persecution.  To be persecuted means that you are sacrificing of yourself for God.  We like that.  It makes us feel better.  It was easy for Christians to view Tebow as being a victim of persecution when he was criticized.  If a TV analyst said Tebow’s release was too slow, that analyst was wrong.  People even suggested that the Broncos won under Tebow because of God’s intervention.  When Vince Young, a star college QB with similar limitations, had the same success early in his NFL career, no one attributed it to God or even Young, for the most part.  Good defense and good luck were Young’s allies.  If anything, Young may have been persecuted.  Why wasn’t God on his side?

Tebow’s Christian fan base is perhaps unique in sports.  This is a group otherwise unconcerned with sports who cheer for him as though he was the first Christian to play pro sports.  Social media exploded with posts about Tebow’s greatness.  “He just wins” was the excuse for any of his poor play, as though the Broncos’ smothering defense drew its strength from Tebow’s mere presence.  I knew folks who didn’t know who John Elway is who became rabid fans of Tebow.  His jersey became the NFL’s best seller.

All of this was unfair to Tebow who has never seemed all that impressed with himself.  He just wants to be a quarterback in a league with no patience.  His best–and probably only–chance of making it in the NFL now is at a different position.  At this point, he is unwilling to do that.  That’s fine, and I can’t say that I blame him.  Football is a hard way to make a living.  One might as well have lofty goals.

So, what now for Tebow?  As football fans know, he faces a tough road.  Once a player is released, he joins the vast sea of players looking for a team.  Young, Leinart and dozens of other borderline players are his competitors but without the media circus that comes to town with Tebow.

Even Tebow’s most zealous fans must accept this:  He wasn’t cut because he’s too good a person or a Christian.  The NFL is chock full of Christians.  In fact, I’ve never heard of a team releasing a star player because he was too nice.  It didn’t happen here, either.

That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize that some take great pleasure in Tebow’s struggles, some because they just don’t like the teams he played on.  Others, in truth, dislike his religion and his display of it.  Even a cursory trip through social media will show people taunting like Edward G. Robinson in The Ten Commandments (“Where’s your God, now, Moses!?!?!?”).  Those are the likely the same folks who take pleasure in the failure of others as though it were actually a success for them.

If you are true Tebower, I suggest you take heart.   If Tebow’s calling is truly a higher one, he will find a better stage.  One can easily envision him on television pontificating about college or NFL football.  I suspect he’ll be fine.  I’m not so sure about his fans, though..

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

The Troll’s 2013 NFL Predictions

nfl

Like all right-thinking Americans, I am a football fan.  I am ready for another season of NFL action.  Here are my daring predictions for the 2013 NFL season:

Week 1:  A notable quarterback will run a keeper out of the read option only to learn (too late) that a large and swift defensive end has been waiting for this play since last February.  All NFL teams will wear a black arm patch in memory of the quarterback.

Week 2: The NFL Rules Committee will adopt the Torso Rule requiring all tackles be made between the belt line and shoulders unless the ball carrier grants permission for a hit in another area.

Week 3:  After studying the new tackling rules, NFL legend Jim Brown will come out of retirement and sign with the Browns.  Brown will find the new NFL much tougher than we he last played in 1965.  The 77-year-old Brown will be held to 66 yards rushing in his first game back.

Week 4: Rex Ryan will be fired after the Jets 55-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills.  Ryan will inexplicably bench Mark Sanchez after one play and replace him with a tackling sled.  The sled will lead the Jets to an early field goal, but will have difficulty mastering the playbook, although not as much difficulty as Sanchez.

Week 5:  After being released by the Patriots, Tim Tebow will still be looking for a new team.  Someone will say “All he does is win.”

Week 6:  Al Davis’s family will announce that they are moving his corpse to Los Angeles.

Week 7:  A player will get arrested for DUI.  He will have a frightening mug shot.

Week 8:  Fox’s Super Bowl Pregame show will start.

Week 9:  After the Redskins upset the previously undefeated Broncos 24-17, there are no remaining unbeaten teams.  The 1972 Miami Dolphins will act a bunch of assholes.

Week 10:  Scientists at NFL headquarters will transport the Jacksonville Jaguars back in time to 1972 where the Jags will crush the Dolphins 65-0 in what will be known as The Shut The Eff Up Bowl.

Week 11:  Although it is a bye week for Dallas, Tony Romo will nevertheless throw a late interception knocking Dallas out of the playoff picture.

Week 12:  A Pro Bowl player will be suspended after testing positive for a banned substance.  The player will apologize for using gorilla semen salve, claiming that it was prescribed for syphilis.

Week 13:  Eli Manning will throw an interception and look dull-eyed and stupid in a slow motion replay.

Week 14:  After public outcry, Fox rethinks Bill O’Reilly as Super Bowl play-by-play announcer and replaces him with less offensive Miley Cyrus.

Week 15:  Under cover of darkness, the Cleveland Browns will move to Baltimore again.  This time, no one cares–expect Baltimore.

Week 16:  In a touching halftime ceremony, the Bills retire O.J. Simpson’s prison number.  The NFL also  announces that no future imprisoned NFL player may ever wear the number again.

Week 17:  Ben Roethlisberger will be benched after displaying concussion-like symptoms.  After a thorough examination, NFL doctors will clear him to play, concluding that he’s just not that bright.

Week 18:  With the Patriots in danger of losing home field advantage in the playoffs, Commissioner Roger Goodell will issue a full pardon to Aaron Hernandez.  In a stirring, PCP-fueled performance, Hernandez will score 4 touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a win over Buffalo.  Unfortunately, Hernandez’s comeback will end on a bit of downer, as he shoots and mortally wounds Patriots owner Robert Kraft late in the 4th quarter.

Super Bowl:  The Patriots will beat Green Bay 31-28 on a last second touchdown pass by Tom Brady.  Packer linebacker Clay Matthews will freeze just as he is about to sack Brady to end the game.  After the game, Matthews will say:  “I had him.  Just had him.  Then I locked on to those dreamy eyes.  I just froze, man.  Damn, he’s beautiful.”

These are just the weekly predictions.  There are, of course, things that will happen every week.  These include the following:

  • An official will make a questionable call.
  • Robert Griffin III will hold a press conference to discuss his knee.
  • Jerry Jones will appear on national television.
  • Someone will suffer a concussion.
  • Ray Lewis will be mentioned during the broadcast of the Ravens’ game.
  • A broadcaster will describe a play in terms that make it sound only slightly less complex than the Moon Landing.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals will start at least one player with a checkered criminal history.
  • Rex Ryan will say something just bat-shit crazy.
  • Al Davis will remain dead.
  • Chris Berman’s success will continue to baffle Americans.

There you have it.  Mark my words.  Some or all of this will happen.  Maybe.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

Cheerleader God

raylewis

Ray Lewis shows God His Lombardi Trophy

I’m a big sports fan. Huge, actually. I’ve ruined substantial chunks of my life grieving over sporting events in which I had no stake other than as a fan. None of the players or coaches knew me nor did they care one way or the other about how their pitiable performances affected me. Nevertheless, though, I grieved.

You know who else is a big sports fan? God. That’s right. Capital “G” God. The Big Guy. The Alpha and Omega. The Big I AM. How do I know that about the unknowable? Athletes have told me. Repeatedly.

Ray Lewis says so. God glorified him (or vice versa–sometimes it’s hard to follow Ray) with a Super Bowl win. After the Ravens’ win, Ray said “It’s simple: When God is for you, who can be against you?” That is pretty simple. God is all-powerful, all-knowing and omnipotent. If He’s for you, who CAN be against you? Well, a lot of people, really. The other team, for instance. Their fans. Maybe people who just generally hate your team or you personally. Atheists, too.

Ray’s simple observation begs many questions, of course:

  • Was God against Colin Kaepernick?
  • Was God for John, but not Jim, Harbaugh? If so, why?
  • What did God think of Beyonce?
  • How about the guy in the suit that John Harbaugh screamed at? What sin did he commit?
  • What was God’s deal with the Harbaugh parents? For or against?
  • Why didn’t God see that holding call on Crabtree? Or did He see it but smite the officials with blindness, because he was for Ray?
  • Is possible that God was on the side of Michael Oher, the guy from the movie The Blind Side, and Ray just benefited from it?
  • Why did God turn out the lights in the second half?
  • What kind of God would allow Destiny’s Child to reunite?

If it were just Ray, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Other athletes are just as bad–or maybe it’s good. Boxers praise God–right after they beat the holy crap out of someone. “Thank you, God, for giving me the strength to inflict permanent brain damage on this other child of yours.” Basketball players do it. Baseball players. Everyone who wins has God on his or her side. Some invoke Jesus, which is really the same thing except with a decidedly Christian take.

That’s right. God picks sides. He’s picked the World Series, Super Bowls, NCAA Championships, fights–you name it. There isn’t enough hard drive in the Cloud to list all the athletes that have credited God for their wins. God plays favorites. No doubt. God is definitely a Calvinist when it comes to sports.

The uncomfortable flip side of this is that God clearly dislikes certain teams and athletes, too, not to mention their fans (like me). This is rarely acknowledged, with one notable exception. Former University of Kentucky football player Stevie Johnson is now a star wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. A couple of years ago, he dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass. Just dropped it. Stevie saw the hand of God in it.

twitter

Stevie Johnson’s ill-tempered tweet reflected a lot of fans’ thoughts.

Predictably, Stevie took a lot of heat for this. But, if you are a sports fan, haven’t you at least thought this before? Sure you have. Of course, I remember Stevie catching a touchdown pass to beat the University of Louisville. An act of God, for sure.

I’ll confess that I’ve prayed to God about sports. “Oh, mighty God, PLEASE let this free throw drop!!!” Of course, this type of prayer is fruitless, but I’ve done it. My life as a sports fan has proven and disproven the existence of God many times:

  • Jim O’Brien hits a last-minute field goal. Colts beat the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. No God.
  • Roger Staubach hits Drew Pearson with the original “Hail Mary” pass in the 1975 NFC Playoffs. God lives!
  • UCLA beats Kentucky for the 1975 NCAA Basketball Championship. No God.
  • Six months later, the Reds rally from 3 down to win the 7th game of the World Series. Big God!
  • Jackie Smith drops a touchdown pass against the Steelers. Cowboys lose the Super Bowl. No God.
  • Kentucky wins the 1978, 1996, 1998 and 2012 NCAA basketball championships. Big, big, big, big GOD!!
  • Christian Laettner hits a three to beat Kentucky at the buzzer in the 1992 NCAA Regional Finals. There is a God, and He hates me.
  • Billy Gillispie is hired as Kentucky’s basketball coach. God hates Kentucky.
  • John Calipari is hired as Kentucky’s basketball coach. God actually loves Kentucky but has a twisted sense humor (see Gillispie, Billy).
  • University of Kentucky Football: No God or at least not one that will let us be great at two sports.
Christian_laettner_1992

I, for one, refuse to blame God for this.

For brevity’s sake, I won’t list the other 200-300 examples. One can readily see that I have struggled to see God’s handiwork in my life as a fan. For others, look no further than this year’s NCAA Football Championship. Notre Dame has Touchdown Jesus, but Alabama whipped them like Samson breaking bad on a bunch of Philistines.

The problem is that for each instance in which I have been crushed by a sporting event, others have felt an equal and opposite reaction. Call it Newton’s Law of God In Sports. He loves one team and hates the other. Okay, maybe He doesn’t hate them. Only if you’re a member of the Westboro Baptist Church do you embrace the hating God. But, at the very least, He’s cruelly indifferent to the other team and its fans.

How does this happen? Do the other fans pray better? Are the players better people? If so, what can I do to help my team? If more of our fans pray will that tip the scales? Or is the quality of the prayers, rather than the quantity, that matters most? It’s hard to say, really.

What about Tim Tebow? By all accounts, he’s a fine young man, sincere in his faith and an all around good guy. He played quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2011 and won a bunch of games. Now, truth be told, he didn’t play particularly well, completing less than 50% of his passes. Yet, he won or, more accurately, his team won. Many folks attributed this to God. Tebow is a Christian, and God wins games for him. Many of my devoutly Christian friends manically cheered for him, as though he was the first Christian to ever play in the NFL (I don’t think he is, by the way). Then Tebow got traded to the Jets, because the Broncos preferred Peyton Manning at quarterback. Tebow barely played for the Jets and did nothing to help them win–to the extent the Jets did win. Did God turn his back on Tebow? Doubtful. Tebow just ended up on a team that didn’t want to play him. Like Tebow, Danny Wuerffel was also a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from the University of Florida and a devout Christian. He had no success in the NFL. Why? Because that’s sports, not God.

Now, you’re thinking: “What’s your point?” Here it is: God isn’t picking games. If he did, the parochial schools would never lose, and Bob Knight would have never won a game. God is God, which is a good thing, but one can only hope that He is occupied with more important things than Ray Lewis’s retirement and my desire to see a teenaged college student make a free throw.

I won’t even belabor the obvious such as the horrific injuries–and even death–suffered by athletes. If you’re a sports fan, you can think of an almost endless list of vile humans who have excelled in sports. What about cities like Chicago and Cleveland? What are they–the Sodom and Gomorrah of sports? If God is picking sides, surely he could cut them a break.

So, the next time you think God has picked your team or favorite player, remember that just means He’s back handing someone else. Eventually, He’ll show you the hands, too. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with praising God. Some believe that He demands it. It’s just that suggesting He won a game makes as much sense as crediting the military for it. After all, we should be thankful for our soldiers, too, but let’s be reasonable.

Okay, now God, UCLA has 11 NCAA basketball titles, and Kentucky has 8. Do you think you could see your way clear to…..never mind.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

The Way of Te’o

I’ve never had a fake girlfriend.  Oh, I may have dated someone I thought was my girlfriend, but that’s not quite the same, is it?  (Turns out she was several people’s girlfriend, but that’s another story). Of course, almost every man has had someone he wished was his girlfriend.  Men don’t really talk about that, because it’s unmanly, but trust me it’s true.  There’s really nothing wrong with that unless you start believing that she’s your real girlfriend.  Then, she becomes your pretend girlfriend.  That’s when restraining orders start getting served on you.

Until a few days ago, only football fans knew the name Manti Te’o.  Now, just about everyone knows his name.  Why?  He has a fake girlfriend.  Or should I say “had?”  You see, she died of leukemia, but not really.  She fake died, which fake people can do.  Te’o says he’s the victim of hoax. Made up girlfriend. Made up love.  Made up death.  If so, there are some sick puppies out there who are definitely NOT Manti Te’o fans.

Te’o is a football player for the University of Notre Dame.  He is Hawaiian.  I know this because of the random apostrophe in his name.  He’s a linebacker and an excellent one at that.  He is also a famous football player–so famous that he was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.  It’s easy to be a famous football player at Notre Dame, but winning the Heisman Trophy makes someone really famous.  Ask Johnny Manziel.  He beat out Te’o for the Heisman.  A year ago, no one had ever heard of him.  Now, he’s called Johnny Football and dates a model.   She’s a real person or so it seems.  I’ve seen pictures of her.  Then again, Te’o saw pictures of his girl friend, too.

manziel

Johnny Football’s girl. Heisman winners date real girls.

It is beyond my abilities to unravel the Te’o mystery.  Here’s what I know.  It was widely reported that his grandmother and girlfriend died on the same day last September.  Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to this, other than to note that it was bad deal.  Sports media beat it to death (forgive me for that).  I heard it about it every time I watched Notre Dame play, which was a lot because all their games are on TV.   Somehow, these deaths inspired Te’o to play better.  On January 16, 2013, Deadspin.com–sort of a snarky sports gossip site–ran a story that the girlfriend didn’t exist and not just because she was dead.  She wasn’t real.

Notre Dame’s athletic director held a press conference where he, too, said she wasn’t real.  Te’o was the victim of a hoax.  The AD cried, because Te’o will never “trust” again.  He didn’t say that Te’o would never love again, but that’s possible, too.  Te’o has weighed in and agreed that he is a victim. Now, he claims that it was just an Internet relationship.  They never met, but he loved her.  Okay.

As more details pour out about this, it is all very confusing.  Now, Te’o and his school claim that it was all an Internet relationship–that the two never actually met.  What did Te’o know and when did he know it?  Why did he keep quiet if, as he claims, he knew it was a hoax on December 6, 2012?  It’s a bizarre story.

Naturally, the whole weird tale got me thinking about me.  What if I had a fake Internet girlfriend?  Could I have one?  What would it be like?  What would we do?  I don’t think I would do well with a fake girlfriend for a number of reasons:

  • I had a difficult time getting along with real girlfriends.  Fake ones probably are no different.
  • I try to keep this blog PG-13.  Enough said about that.
  • Te’o said he talked to her on the phone for 8 hours a day.  I can’t imagine anyone having anything to say that I could listen to for 8 hours.  The first 8 hour phone call, and I’m out.
  • I would like to actually see my girlfriend on occasion.  Call me weird.
  • I’m not an All-American football player, so I might be exactly the kind of guy who would need to date someone on the Internet.  Regardless, at some point, I’m at least going to Google her name.
  • One of the best things about a girlfriend, as I recall, is that they smell good and nice to touch.  Without that, I’d lose interest.
  • If a beautiful woman contacted me on the Internet and said she was interested in me, I would immediately assume it was a scam.  It’s not like I ever had that problem in real life.
  • I’m married and have been for some time.  Fake girlfriends probably don’t go over any better than real ones.
  • I’m sure a fake girlfriend would eventually want a fake marriage.
  • Fake divorce would follow a fake marriage, but I’m sure the fake wife would still get half my stuff.
megan

My fake girlfriend is happy when she gets to work on my car.

So, I’m out of the fake girlfriend game.  That’s a good thing, I suppose, but it doesn’t stop me from pondering about how this could happen to someone.  If you’ve seen the documentary Catfish, you know it can happen.  I will confess, though, that some of the scenes in Catfish seem contrived to me.  Maybe not. Maybe this kind of stuff is just so weird that it’s unbelievable.

Common sense seems to be one’s best protection.  Here are some things that should be red flags:

  • Your girlfriend’s Facebook profile lists Hogwarts as her high school.
  • She lists Manti Te’o as a reference on her resume.
  • She calls with her condolences when your grandmother dies–and while she’s in a coma herself.
  • She claims to be a cheerleader at Faber College.
  • Every time you want to get together, she is either in a bad car wreck or has leukemia.
  • She says she’ll “just die” if you don’t win the Heisman, then she does.
  • She’s smokin’ hot, but trolls the Internet looking for a boyfriend.

These are just a few things which come to mind.  More importantly, though, is how to tell if someone else has a fake girlfriend.  In Te’o’s case it’s pretty easy now.  What’s not so easy is trying to sort out the truth from the fiction now.  I don’t know this young man and doubt that I will ever meet him.  But I’m a lawyer, and I know a thing or two about lying.  No, not me lying–other people.

When someone lies, it’s like looking at someone with a go-funny eye.  At first, you’re not quite sure what’s up, but something is off.  Then, you get it–“he’s got a go-funny eye!”  That’s how a lie works.  You hear it, and it’s not quite right.  Something is off about it, but you’re not sure what.  It might take some digging, but you can figure it out if you have time and patience.

As a father of three sons, I also know a thing or two about lying.  (That’s right.  Your kids will lie to you.  Sorry to bust your bubble).  As I write this, my sons are 20, 17 and 10.  I’ve learned to challenge anything that sounds the least bit implausible.  For example, a few months ago, one of my sons claimed that he was robbed of ten dollars outside his school.  Was I terrified?  No, because I didn’t believe it.  I had him come to my office and explain the story in detail.  Go-funny eye.  The time line made no sense.  Why would they steal $10 but not his phone?  He swore it was true, until several hours later when he admitted he lied.  He needed $10.  Why go to such lengths for $10?  How should I know?  I’m his father, not his psychiatrist.

I suspect that Te’o is in the same position. He’s telling a story now that just doesn’t fit.  Someone pulled one over on him.  Instead of facing the embarrassment of that, he perpetuated it.   If he did, he lied.  Something about the “he’s just a victim” story sounds wrong.  Not all of it–parts of it are no doubt true.  There are parts that just don’t sound right.  Go-funny eye.

Men my age like to call college age men “boys” or “kids.”  Te’o isn’t a kid.  He’s a grown man.  If he perpetuated this story after he knew it was a hoax, he is responsible for that.  It seems that no one at Notre Dame challenged Te’o on his story. Certainly, none of the journalists who swooned over his tale of woe did.  Maybe he just thought he’d get away with it.  Usually, that’s the point of a lie.

Like I said, he’s a grown man–with a fake girlfriend.  The more cynical of us note that defensive players don’t win the Heisman.  Maybe pulling at heart-strings would help.  Now, he’s the butt of jokes (I’ve come up with some good ones myself) and a media onslaught.  Of course, Te’o may be telling the truth.  If so, truth is again stranger than fiction.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

The Sporting Life of Me

I like sports. Maybe I love sports. Loving something like that (or is it those?) seems odd to say out loud, but it’s possible that I do. Why? I’m not sure, but I know this much: It isn’t because I was ever good at any of them.

If you’ve read any of my sundry blog posts, you know that I will opine on almost any topic–politics, religion, TV, movies, fighting girls, self-help and, yes, sports. These things interest me, and I like to write–and talk–about such things. One might call me self-centered. One might be correct about that, too. I assume that others will be interested in these subjects since they interest me. Mostly, I believe that others are, or at the very least should be, interested in what interests me. If not, they must be interested in me, generally. With that in mind, let’s talk sports.

I’m not an athlete. I never was. Oh, I tried my hand at various sports. Never, though, did I find my game.

BASEBALL

I played a lot of baseball growing up. I wasn’t particularly good, but I played. I had one God-given skill and that was speed. I was pretty fast. That was helpful, to some extent. I also have decent hand-eye coordination–decent, not excellent. I couldn’t hit very well nor did I have a good arm. In my 20’s, a doctor told me that it was likely that I had torn muscles in my shoulder when I was young, which would explain chronic pain and weakness. I use this now as an excuse to explain my overall mediocrity. I am now convinced that I tore my shoulder when I was 4 years old.

My baseball career, as it were, can be summed up in one game when I was 14 years old. My team faced a pitcher who threw side arm. I couldn’t hit him neither could my team-mate batting in front of me in the order. In the last inning of an extra inning game, we both had struck out four times. There were two outs, and I was on deck. Since we both had the dreaded Golden Sombrero (four Ks), I silently prayed that my team-mate would get out so that I would not end the game for us. He did. On strikes. I was happy. There may be no “I” in team, but there damn sure is one in “strike out.”

I was also volatile and difficult to coach. I would argue with my coaches. I would argue with opposing players. I would argue with my team-mates. These may seem to be attributes of the modern athlete; however, they are best reserved for the modern, outstanding athlete. The borderline, average teenager in the 1970’s did not benefit from such behavior. One time, I even got into an argument with my coach’s father during a game. Not a good move.

I combined lack of skill and bad attitude with laziness. If I needed to work on something, I preferred to just sit around and hope I improved. Oddly enough, it didn’t work.

BASKETBALL

I also played basketball or, more correctly, tried to play. To say that I was not a good basketball player is to say that William Shatner is not a good singer. The speed which I flashed playing baseball disappeared with a basketball in my hands. I couldn’t go to my left at all. I could barely go to my right. But, could I shoot? No. Try as I might, my jumper was always an awkward “push” shot. It would have looked good in the days of the two hand set shot.

My lack of skill limited my play to pick up games, except for a brief period in elementary school when I played what we called “Little League” basketball in my home town. I played for Loyall Christian Church. Although I did not attend church there, they sponsored our team. I played three years and might have scored 10 points total. Honestly, that’s probably a stretch. I do know that my high game was four points. Wow.

The highlight of my organized basketball career was a fight–not involving me, of course. My Dad had an older kid walk me to my games at night (Dad was often on the road for work during the week). One night, we encountered a hoodlum of some renown. My guardian slapped the cigarette out of the hood’s mouth, picked it up and took a long drag off it. He then flicked the butt off the hood’s chest. I can still see those ashes exploding against his chest in the dark. Why did he do this? I think it was just to make a point. Okay, that’s not really a fight, but I was just 7 or 8 years old, and I thought it was cool.

I would occasionally play pick up games, usually quite poorly. The only time I ever recall playing well was in a one on one game with a friend in high school. For reasons now obscure, I had mouthed off about how I could beat him. I don’t why I did that since he was taller than I was and, by all appearances, more athletic. He challenged me to a game to 20 by ones. Something possessed me and, for that one game, I could really play. I couldn’t miss a shot. My awkward, two-handed J hit nothing but net. The game winner was made after a quite accidental cross-over dribble off my knee. My opponent slipped and I nailed a jumper from about 15 feet. My friend was wowed. I used up all my basketball luck in one game.

I also played in the occasional pick up game in college. Again, poorly. My friends tolerated me, because…well…they were my friends. I’m sure it pained them to watch me. Sometimes, I would play against girls. They were also better than I was. Perhaps the highlight of my college career was a violent body check/pick laid on me by a University of Kentucky football player. He was about 6′ 4″, 350 maybe. No front teeth and he wore a down vest to play basketball. After his bone-pulverizing pick, I predictably collapsed in a pathetic heap. He then screamed obscenities at me, rightfully questioning my manhood.

I used to play basketball with my kids. Then, they got better than me, too.

GOLF

I also tried golf. There weren’t a lot of golfers when I was growing up in Harlan County, Kentucky. Some people belonged to the Harlan Country Club. I heard that they played golf up there on a 9 hole golf course. Other than the occasional miniature golf game (they had miniature golf in Evarts), I didn’t touch a golf club until I was in my 20’s.

I thought golf would be a good game for me. It didn’t require much (or any) athleticism. I imagined myself strolling the links with fellow hot shots, playing and making lucrative business deals. Sadly, my golf play resembled nothing so much as Spaudling Smails in Caddyshack. Here are some of the reasons golf didn’t work:

  • I discovered that most people didn’t enjoy playing with someone in a blind rage the whole time.
  • People would give me pointers which I desperately needed; however, I HATE pointers, advice, helpful hints or whatever the hell you want to call them.
  • I broke my pitching wedge beating it against a tree after sailing an approach shot over the green.
  • I broke my 9 iron. By running over it with my car. On purpose.
  • I bent my putter. Throwing it.
  • I would curse loudly and often.

Ultimately, I abandoned the game because I was just terrible at it. Terrible. The only thing I liked about it was that one could drink alcohol while playing. In my case, it didn’t affect my game at all. Now, I often think about what my father said of golf: “If a man has enough time to play golf, he should do something productive instead. Like work.” That gives me some comfort. Some. I don’t do much productive, either.

BOWLING

I tried other sports. Bowling, for instance. Sucked. Like golf, I can tell you all the fundamentals one must embrace to excel, but I can’t execute any of them. Once I stopped drinking, I found out that the only reason I ever bowled was for the alcohol, anyway.

BILLIARDS

How about pool? I love shooting pool. I can visualize every shot on the table. I can’t execute any of them. I’ve broken a couple of pool cues over my leg. I used to have a nice pool table, but I gave it away. It taunted me every time I walked by it. Again, though, one could drink beer and play. It had that going for it.

YO-YO

In the 1970’s, there was a yo-yo craze. That’s right–yo-yo. Everyone had a yo-yo, me included. The craze even reached Harlan County. Every hay-shaker and hill jack in the county was walking the dog, rocking the baby and going around the world. Me? I cracked myself in the mouth once trying to go around the world. Split my lip. Sometimes, I would walk the dog, and the yo-yo would pop up and hit me in the forehead. It was just sad.

EVERYTHING ELSE

My mediocrity knew almost no limits. Ping pong, darts, dodge ball, volley ball and softball all mastered me. PE in high school was a struggle, because there were no games at which I excelled. Our PE teacher was an affable enough fellow who went on to a successful career as a college football assistant coach. He was affable, that is, until he had a psychotic episode of yelling and screaming about something. He once hit a kid with a desk. He was better, though, than the head football coach who someone once aptly described as a “shaved ape.” They brought to mind the old Woody Allen joke: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

Of course, it was a right of passage that one take PE. At the time, I suspected that it was because of a homoerotic desire to force us all to shower. I guess that was wrong, but–hey–I was 14. It made sense at the time.

One sport I never tried was football. I was WAY too small and have an aversion to being hit. I also don’t like injuries of any kind. When I grew no one played soccer. I never ran track or swam competitively or played Frisbee. I like to think that I could have excelled at any of those if I’d only tried.

Later in life, I met many people who didn’t grow up with me. Someone would ask if I played basketball, and I could say, “Oh, yeah. I was pretty damn good, too.” Or I could say I was baseball star. Fortunately, when you reaches a certain age, people don’t challenge you or invite you to join their teams. If they do, you can alway claim some injury like a torn rotator cuff or unresolved sports hernia prevents it.

Now that I’ve written this, I think I know why I love sports. It’s precisely because of my incompetence. Perhaps, I live vicariously through these athletes. Perhaps, I admire their expertise. It could be that they represent all that I wanted to be. Or maybe it’s because I REALLY love watching TV. I am very good at that.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

I’m Seriously Not Joking: Call Me Barnhart!

The vast emptiness of Commonwealth Stadium, November 3, 2012. I’d fill this bad boy.

I was inspired to originally write this post after my good friend, Roger, and I sat through the entire, sorry University of Kentucky/Western Kentucky University football game earlier this season. Today, November 4, 2012, UK announced that it will have a new football coach next season. So, I again announce my candidacy for what is now a vacancy. UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart can now consider this an open letter to him.

The Western game 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.

Roll forward several weeks and our beloved Cats stand–or kneel–at 1 and 9. The latest loss was ignominious 40-0 pounding by Vanderbilt. The last time Vandy stomped us like that, Teddy Roosevelt was President and football was literally played with a pigskin.

We’ve also been eviscerated by Arkansas and Missouri for their first conference wins. We did play well for a half against South Carolina and most of the game against Georgia. We took a beating from Florida when we tried an ill-conceived game plan of playing without a quarteback. Mississippi State bludgeoned us, too.

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. The inevitable coaching change is now upon us. Names like David Cutcliffe of Duke and Sonny Dykes of Louisiana Tech have been floated. What about an old warhorse like Phillip Fulmer?

My thought earlier this year 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. Gene Chizek is on his way out at Auburn. He’s looking at two wins at AUBURN! He has to be bad.

Just hire the worst we can find and accept our fate. My friend, Roger, had an 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. Again, I officially declare myself a candidate. Not only a candidate. The only candidate.

QUALIFICATIONS

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.

CONTRACT

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.

RECRUITING

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.

There has been a lot of talk about UK needing a recruiting. Once I saw, I understood:

The UK Football Recruiting Room, where top high school talent can enjoy a fine meal and then run the calories off on the track.

While I agree this is pathetic, I won’t demand huge money for a new one. Here is my basement:

My basement. Plenty of sitting area, 60 inch plasma TV. What recruit wouldn’t be impressed?

Recruits can laze around on the couch watching TV with my teenage son. It will be just like being in someone’s home.

COACHING

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.

MEDIA/FAN RELATIONS

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.

RESULTS

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.

Our one win was against Kent State. I’m pretty sure this is now the low point in the history of their university, surpassing the whole National Guard thing.

I still hold out hope that we can beat Samford–assuming they are really bad. Regardless, we all have something to look forward to now. Go Cats!

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012