Welcome to the short season: four games in as many weeks to end a winner. The only problem is winning four games in his inaugural season is something no Shula offspring has proven he can do (yet?). But as a native of the state that perennially ranked 49th in education and 2nd in poverty, allow me to reiterate that mantra of childhood pride: Thank God for Mississippi.
Things may be turning around among the cotton fields though. MSU is already seeking a replacement for SEC football’s most loveable crook, and word had leaked that the Bulldogs are interested in the runner-up from the last big coaching search, Sly Croom.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should state I was rooting for Croom to come home to Tuscaloosa – Don Shula’s Steakhouse be damned! Croom played for Bear, yes. But more importantly, he played for a National Championship for Bear. Needless to say, Croom also played on a few SEC Championship teams. Our current coach can lay claim to neither.
Skeptics will say this is unimportant. But there’s a big difference between a coach becoming a winner and arriving as one – especially when fulfilling the promise of a four-game sweep.
Winning is weightless, yet losing possesses a terminal gravity that absorbs anything it touches. Once fallen into its depth, players’ best efforts and coaches’ best plans are crippled like so much light pressed inside a black hole.
An alumnus of Rutgers – the school that once ‘boasted’ the nation’s longest losing streak – told me last week, “I saw the Tennessee-Alabama game. Those close losses leave a bad taste in your mouth. Trust me, you’d rather lose by 40 points than like that.”
Lord! That we never develop such a palate.