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MIKE RILEY HITS THE ROAD

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HIS PASSENGER'S GOT SOME BACKSEAT DRIVING TO OFFER

Statesman-Journal

When we last left off with Nebraska head coach Mike Riley, he was moving into his new office in Lincoln, only to fit that the previous inhabitant had left a few things behind.

We pick up with Coach Riley now, in an old convertible somewhere on I-80...

RILEY: Gol-lee, sir, good to get out on the road for a few days, clear my head and what-for. Been a heckuva hard first month out here in Nebraska, I reckon. Hail Marys and Hurricanes and hard decisions, I tell you what. Some might say passing on 3rd down and leavin' enough time on the clock for your opponent to win is bad coaching. I say it's just common courtesy. You don't take extra time you don't need, you're just holdin' up honest workin' people from gettin' on with their day, whether they're folks in the cafeteria line or people waitin' to pump gas or Weses Lunt. You do your business and move on, that's what I say. Burnin' the clock's something for Don Rickles at a watchmaker's convention. Burnin' the clock's how that fella from Spin City got himself stuck in 1955. Heck, son, you wanna visit 1955, don't go foolin' around cheatin' the Libyans and muckin' up a perfectly good DeLorean. Just visit Lincoln, ain't a thing changed 'round here in decades.

[long pause, the silence punctuated only by the sound of the wind, the wheels on the highway, and Lindsay Buckingham's "Holiday Road" on repeat at low volume]

RILEY: Their language's gotten saltier, though.

[I found out, long ago / Whoo-aaaaa-aoooo-oooah / it's a long way down / the Holiday Road]

RILEY: Lotta mean things they've been sayin' in letters lately.

[Holiday Roooo-oooo-oooo-oooo-oooo-oooo-oooo-oooad]

RILEY: I mean, heck, I appreciate a handwritten correspondence, who doesn't, but they've been using some words I wouldn't even play to win Scrabble. It's disrespectful - not to me, sir, I can take my lumps, but it's a disrespect to the fine paper and the hardworkin' stationers who made it for you to go fillin' it with all manner of nasty thoughts. You wanna write a letter, son, how 'bout you drop your mother a note? Or find yourself a rib-ticklin' anecdote you can share with Life In These United States? Instead you're takin' the time and the paper to send a ball coach a hand-drawing of him with his head up a-

BOX, in back seat: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

RILEY, almost swerving off road: HOLLERIN' HOUSHMANDZADEH

BOX: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

RILEY: CINNAMON ROLLS AND CHILI

BOX: [coughs] are we there yet

RILEY, rattled: aw, consarnit, son, I wasn't tryin' to bring you along, I thought I was grabbin' my box of Robert Fulghum books for the road! Figured I might get some reading done, pick up a few life lessons along the way.

BOX: I CAN FILL THAT ROLE FOR YOU, YOU KNOW WHAT *I* REALLY NEEDED TO KNOW THAT I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN?

RILEY: What's th-

BOX: RUN OUT THE DAMN CLOCK ON THIRD DOWN. AND IF YOU'RE GONNA BITE THE OTHER KIDS, DO IT WHEN THE TEACHER'S NOT LOOKING.

RILEY: Well, now, I-

BOX: I NEVER LOST TO ILLINOIS, AND BECKMAN'S GOT THE SCARS TO PROVE THE REST.

RILEY: Alright, now you're just bein-

BOX: JUST BEING NEGATIVE, IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE GONNA SAY, SMARTASS? I WARNED YOU NINE MONTHS AGO THAT THESE PEOPLE WERE GONNA TURN ON YOU, I JUST THOUGHT YOU'D MAKE IT PAST YOUR FIRST COLUMBUS DAY BEFORE IT HAPPENED. NOW CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, THERE WAS A GUY WITH A PLAN. HE MOVED TO A NEW TOWN, HE JUST KILLED EVERYONE WHO WAS ALREADY THERE. THAT'S WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING IN YOUNGSTOWN. NO ONE'S EVEN NOTICED. IT'S AWESOME WHAT YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH WHEN YOU WORK FOR TRESSEL.

RILEY: Listen, pal, you can cool it right this minute with all this killin' nonsense, I'm not gonna even think about killin' anyone.

BOX: YEAH, I KNOW, I WATCHED THE BYU GAME. IRONIC, I THOUGHT THEY WOULD'VE GOT YOU MORE IN THE MISSIONARY PO-

RILEY: [turns up radio to full volume] HOLIDAY ROOOOOO-OOOO-OOOO-AAAAAD

BOX: IF YOU THINK I CAN'T YELL OVER LINDSAY BUCKINGHAM THEN YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TO A FLEETWOOD MAC CONCERT WITH ME

RILEY: Now l've had just about enough of your negativity, buster. Sure, people are upset that we're in sixth place right now, and a lot of 'em are upset at me. I get that, they need someone to take their anger out on, and that's part of what you pay a head coach for. I just think they should trust in the program and the changes we're makin', and things'll work out soon.

BOX: THEY WERE MAD I KEPT LOSING FOUR GAMES EVERY YEAR, YOU'VE SURE GOT A HEAD START ON BREAKING THAT STREAK. TELL YOU WHAT, YOU WANNA DRIVE SOMETHING OFF A CLIFF, LET'S JUST GO FOR IT THELMA AND LOUISE STYLE RIGHT NOW. MIGHT AS WELL HIT BOTTOM WITH A BANG INSTEAD OF A 12-6 LOSS TO PURDUE. AT LEAST PEOPLE MIGHT WANT TO WATCH THAT.

RILEY, making U-turn: I'm turnin' this car around and puttin' you in the basement storage room with all those Osborne for Governor signs.

BOX: ARE WE CARRYING THE FIRE, PA?

RILEY: Wait, are you doing The Road now? I thought you were shootin' for Thelma & Louise.

BOX: THIS CAN BE ANY ROAD TRIP MOVIE YOU WANT. EXCEPT ONE.

RILEY: What's tha-

BOX: ASK ANYONE IN LINCOLN, THEY'LL TELL YOU, YOU AIN'T TOMMY, BOY