When we were at the NFL draft, the horrible intro the ghost-life a football player lives in the NFL* after college, we got into a discussion with an NFL draftnik, a likeable guy who nevertheless fit the mold of a thousand Kiper clones who really do, after each pick is announced, instantly fire out an oral verdict on the decision and address an invisible camera located just off-center/front in their vision. There's hair gel and modified ducktail protomullets all over the place. It is a frightening vision of mid-Atlantic manhood, a collection of men who likely wear socks even when they don't have to** and who regard the college game as this nifty game of paddy-cake preceding the real, live, stinking-with-testosterone game of the enn-eff-ell.
We were talking about Rashard Mendenhall when he said:
"Illinois is gonna be good again this year," he said.
Bull, red flag; nail, only tool in belt, hammer.
"OMG WHAT THE HELL [NAME REDACTED] standard fussy baby fit about out Florida's former coach who only got us seven victories annually."
"At the college level it's all about getting talent. He does that. They'll be fine."
I was seconds away from telling him to choke on an old Outback bowl flyer of mine when I paused, told the Dark Passenger to take a step back, and then simply said, "I disagree." However, even as the finest meat in all of college football was sold by lottery to the highest bidder in the draft, the question bugged me like a bad burrito inching its malignant way through your guts: was he at least partially right?
After all, look as some of the coaches who have won national titles and tell me of their tactical genius without laughing, stuttering, or being flicked from the face of the planet into space by the vengeful finger of Angry Bearded God-man. Phil Fulmer? Jim Tressel? Lloyd Carr? Mack Brown? As much as we worship at the altar of the holy playbook and those who fill its pages with new, lacy innovations, maybe the Kiperbots had a point--college football may require some brainpower, but relatively speaking, not that much actual cerebral horsepower was necessary.
Meaning, in what we now know is the year we quit being a premenstrual little bitch and actually forgive [NAME REDACTED] for yielding mediocre results as a Florida coach...is it just that simple? Take a charismatic maniac, plug him in at the head position, and make sure you hire your coordinators out of the top ten list ripped straight from the prior year's statistics? Add cash, facilities, stir, and WHOOMP, there's your program?
The thought of a Kiperbot being this correct about anything related to college football frightens us and makes the wallpaper gnomes talk to us at night in scary voices. Perhaps you're wondering: what are wallpaper gnomes? We're wondering the same goddamn thing, man. The same goddamn thing.
*Hey, here, no guaranteed contract, give me those knees, piss in this cup, out in three years and looking for car dealership, new knees, and whatever comes next.
**This horrifies and saddens us like nothing else. The thought of white legs and black socks is the most emasculating thing short of being beaten senseless by the cast of The Gilmore Girls. If this just described your deepest fantasies, please keep that to yourself.