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THE COACHING LESSONS OF THE GOLDEN GIRLS

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WINNING THE SOPHIA PETRILLO WAY

1. ROSE IS COACHING FOOTBALL. We would have picked Dorothy Zbornak as the obvious football coach here, but Rose turns out to be brutally competitive in the manner that only someone from Minnesota who was never, ever allowed to feel anything directly would be. (This could explain why Minnesota football has, for the better part of 50 years, chosen passive-aggression over outright aggression as a strategy.)

2. ROSE USES SABAN TECHNIQUES. Or maybe Nick Saban uses Rose Nylund's techniques, since this episode aired in 1989 while Nick Saban was a DB coach with the Oilers. You laugh, but the man will take an edge wherever he can get it, and oh-- when, exactly, did Nick Saban decide to quit being a mid-level NFL assistant, and take the next step to being a head coach by taking the Toledo job?

Why, that would be in the year 1990. Just after this episode aired, actually.

[whooshing space noises]

[dramatic music]

Because she is psychotic, Rose has the whole team weighing in, and Sophia is reading them off and clearly auditioning for the part of strength coach. Dorothy notes: "Little bodies don't like it when big bodies fall on them." Dorothy is speaking Bret Bielema's language here, and obviously supports 100% hawg football.

3. ROSE IS EITHER AN OFFENSIVE GENIUS OR A COMPLETE DISASTER.

WishboneRose

Dammit Rose what are you even doing. First of all, that's either a bear front with the center covered by the nose tackle and some weird-ass safety/lb alignment, or that's the old 5-3 the Giants used in the 1930s to defend against the Wing-T. And if it's that, then Rose is clearly going head-to-head with a retired octogenarian coach not preparing his kids for the next level.

It's not as bad as it looks, though. Sure, Rose explains the play and it sounds completely insane: a TE motion wide, who then comes back into the middle of the zone when the QB fakes a screen to the wide receiver. OUT OF THE WISHBONE. Besides depending on your middle school linemen to hold a block for a minimum of eight seconds and counting on an eleven year old to throw an accurate pass under rush pressure, it makes sense.

Then again: Rose may have done something here. There's several run options built in here with a full wishbone backfield. There's play-action, and motion to show keys, and a fake screen that could become a very real one with the right blocking, and...y'all. We think Rose may have invented the package play two decades before it became common. If you can't believe Dana Holgorsen got offensive inspiration from an episode of Golden Girls, then you clearly don't belong here.

4. Sophia says you attack them on the ground, and then take to the air. This is based on sixty years of lovemaking, she says, and we're not altogether convinced this is not something a real Miami youth football coach has said in the course of their work. She comforts him with a cliche, notes that she is using a cliche, and also gives an underweight kid a meatball sandwich to make weight and get around a pesky rule about player size. Sophia in this episode is indistinguishable from the real-life coaching presence of Lou Holtz.

5. "Make way for the victors," says Sophia as a bunch of football players clad in yellow and blue file in and immediate enrage and offend every Ohio State fan watching this show. Sophia takes credit for the victory with the "Statue of Mussolini" play, described as "everyone piling on the star quarterback on the first play, and then he's out for the rest of the game." Sophia is a very good football coach, and the only Golden Girl who understands the point of football: winning at all costs, mob violence, skirting the rules as closely as possible, and petty dictatorship.