College Football Resource always seems to bring the scalpel to the discussion, posting careful, incisive, and spell-checked analysis to the table. (We guess we're the prison shiv-fast, cheap, and not entirely fair types.) This time it's in response to JoBu's now-moldy overview of the season, which featured quotes from other sportswriters' articles deifying coaches who, it turns out, fell a few steps short of coaching Valhalla despite winning national championships. (Or in Dennis Erickson's case, a few beers short of a 24-pack. )
Erickson: He likes beer.
The post is very thought-provoking, a rarity around here, so we thought we'd elaborate and build on a few things in a non-shitty, talking out your ass after three cups of java sort of way...
-Your post reminds of one crucial thing: coaches make this sport. More than any other. (Really, someday explain to me what a baseball manager or an NBA coach does for their paycheck, and I'll send you a whole shiny dollar in appreciation.) You've got 18-22-year olds with hyperdeveloped bodies and developing brains executing complex schemes involving 22 factors on every play for sixty minutes. In addition to coordinating this mess, you've got to have the charm to get people to come to your program in the first place. Add all the admin, media, and abiding by the NCAA's increasingly abstruse set of guidelines for how to run things, and you've got a lot riding on the personality and capabilities of a single person. Frankly, you have to be kind of crazy just to do it, which explains why Houston Nutt looks like he's going to attack someone half the time and Pete Carroll always has that blissed-out California Prozac glow about him. Even NFL coaches can delegate more and worry about less. Being a college football head coach is as close to a fiefdom as you'll find in sport. They're little kings, forever feuding with boosters, jousting with the opposition, and persuading youngsters to join the cause for a shot at glory. And like a lot of kings, they often lose their heads too soon if the kingdom fails to prosper.
If he were a king, he would have been Ethelred the Unready.
-We don't know if there's a coach to root for or against. (Or if there's any risk in doing so-it's not like you see any banner ads here. For now, we're strictly non-profit.) As a matter of fact, we're not sure there's rules to this. Generally, you either like someone based on the personality of their team or not. We're pretty clear on our biases here: we like coaches that rant, rage, make strange comments at press conferences, stoke rivalries, go for it on 4th down, and make humorous local advertisements for bucks on the side. (Tommy Tuberville, we will always love you for doing Kroger ads. Why? We're not sure, but seeing you hawking Hydrox cookies and lunchmeat just makes us giggle. Keep it up.)
Why? Because college football is fabulously unprofessional. Take the NFL as counterpoint. While we park it on the couch with the rest of America on Sundays, too, the pretense of grown men playing a game for a living wears on us. The sound of Merrill Hoge saying "The NFL is a league of men" while clenching his jaw and pointing at the camera like a professional wrestler, the sheer arrogance of a Bill Parcells press conference, anything about Brian Billick...it's too close to product for us. Streamlined, homogenized, and market-tested to death.
Hoge: gets a little too excited talking about "men" in "locker rooms."
And now take college football. Tommy's got his phone number in the Opelika phone book. Go ahead, look it up, it's there. The college analyst of choice isn't a blowhard like Merrill Hoge; it's Beano Cook, or Tony Barnhardt, or some other doughy, soft-spoken guy who paid his dues by working at the Nowheresville Register for ten years before getting the city paper job. Ditto for the coaches, who often just breezed in from Wichita or some D-II school in Pennsylvania. The facilities can be good, but even at big schools, quirk is the norm: checkerboard at Tennessee, old-school hashmarks at Notre Dame, and the Shoe at Ohio State. And fans in college football do things in the name of tradition that NFL franchises would ban outright (cowbells, anyone?) That individuality, that quirk, is what defines the sport for us. And heaven forbid we ever take it as seriously as pro ball.
Does he look like he's taking this seriously?
-We agree that the media goes overboard in praising coaches. But does a blog have any better chance at accuracy? Or legitimacy? In sports, I'm afraid not. Today's genius might be tomorrow's fool, and from our experience, there's very little trend or predictability in determining lasting success besides this: it's rare to have it. Ask Hal Mumme, Lou Holtz, Danny Ford, John Robinson, Steve Spurrier, or even Phil Fulmer or Jim Tressel about that. We're fans first, and that means what we say is often passionate, well-informed, and completely and utterly wrong.
So let us take this opportunity to say that while we do hope to occasionally inform, the purpose of this site would never be to help Bruce Feldman with our expertise. We can't do that because we don't have any to share. Period. (If you can, wow, then go man go.)
Hey, lack of expertise didn't stop the Ramones, though, which is why we do what we do: because the big guys can't type the word fuck as many times as they want and post pictures of Kellen Winslow, Jr's head superimposed on the Purple Rain album cover whenever they feel like it. It's thoroughly unprofessional, provincial, crude...and in tune with every thing we love about the sport.