Friday, December 17, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 12/17/04

“We’re not losing any cancer cures over there. So there’re fewer gas station attendants when they get back…. What’s the big deal?”

-- caller to a Nashville talk radio show, 12/14/04, on the lack of armor available for troops in Iraq.

Hell is on your doorstep; the latch is open and he’s peeking inside. Laocoon and Cassandra are on the Christmas card list this year. Suddenly, the idea of a bearded man running house to house under cover of nightfall doesn’t seem so comforting.

And the latest Demosthenes of the newschannels can’t talk me off the ledge. Seems like there are more bullets than targets these days, but most of the barrels point straight into the dirt anyway. And why not? After all, as the Secretary points out, armor doesn’t always work. He can at least prove that: he’s planted many soldiers’ limbs deep in the sand.

There’s a common man’s Star Chamber on the rise, an arbitrary grab-bag of promises and prayers that finds enemies where it can and when it will. My neighbor puzzles me. His priorities seem as widespread, and as helpful, as influenza. His head is a stone.

Let Pax Americana be fueled by the blood of Toby Keith. I used to cut the bourbon, now the bourbon cuts me. So I watch football. I watch the Don’s son try to cut the Gordian knot by recruiting enough beef to stock a meat packing plant. I watch the bottle get empty and the clock tick down, and if I can make it to the fourth quarter, it must be a pretty good game.

Roll Tide.

Friday, December 03, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 12/03/04

With losses to LSU, Tennessee, and Auburn for two consecutive years, it's tempting to declare this another annus horribilus in Tuscaloosa. But three other losses better explain this year's campaign -- namely those of Tim Castille, Ray Hudson, and, most damning, the Brodie. Before the season started, if you told me that Don's son would take this team to a bowl without benefit of the entire starting backfield, I'd suggest you fit yourself for a jacket that buckles in the back.

However, depending on the outcome of tomorrow's SEC title game between the Tigers and the Vols -- a match-up that offers Bama fans all the comfort of being asked whether you'd prefer dying of syphilis or gangrene -- the Crimson Tide will be headed to Nashville or (no, really, I'm not kidding) Dallas. The casino cognoscenti say Nashville's a lock.

And so is Shula. Although after what Our Lady of the Golden Dome did to her coach, it's hard to extend comfort to any of them these days. Beating Michigan at home and UT on the road wasn't enough to spare him the axe. Offering up a top draft player and a title game showing the same year isn't enough to save whoever coaches in Faulkner's back yard. So much for the past not being the past.

Shula seems on surer footing. And he has respective advantages over his two predecessors: His recruits are panning out. He leaves the partying to the fans.

And come the end of the year, we actually have something to party about. Not our wounded offense's performance (Shula is so blessedly boring that he makes Gene Stallings look like Urban Meyer), but their persistence. The progress is incremental, but it's visible. All boats rise together, as the pinkos say. And if your recruits make the grade, your defense plays their positions, and your coaches stick with what works, a school like Alabama will eventually have enough talent, will eventually be so fast and so big and so consistent, that posting the playbook on the Jumbo-tron wouldn't make a hell of a lot of difference.

Eventually seems like a long time though.

Roll Tide.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Friday, November 12, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 11/12/04


Get out your ugliest shoes, Pauline. We're going bowling!

Granted, Alabama will likely attend one of the lower tier bowl games, perhaps the Dow Chemical Flavoring Bowl or the Ad Hoc Bowl. But after two years of fake outs among the lava rocks at the Father Damien Memorial Ass Kicking, this'll do for now.

With last year's (co-)National Champion awaiting tomorrow, now's as good a time as any to mock the folly that is the BCS, this naked emperor with premium ad rates. Each year its acolytes assure us its infallibility, and each successive year they announce the changes installed to fix the problems they denied the year before. And when that fails, repeat your mantra: It's better than the bowl system.


What can this obscenity offer us? Not definitive winners, to be sure, but losers aplenty. If you follow a winning team throughout the season, all the BCS offers you is that your bowl game is likely meaningless. Perhaps the only thing more imbecilic than the BCS is the advocate of a play-off system.

Quick! Name one thing less relevant than college basketball's regular season.

Time's up. If you answered the Democratic Party, you're just bitter (or gloating). College football is a perfect mess. It is not the artwork pulled down to earth by the isolated flaw; it is the flaw, the felix culpa. To deny this is indefensible. College football needs the messy tribalism, the contested victories, the spurned coaches and delusional players. To paraphrase William James, O happy fault, O necessary sin of Maurice Clarett.

Roll Tide.

Friday, November 05, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 11/05/04

This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it -- that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail
November 1972

I’ve heard it said that these days are like being trapped in the dark, unable to adjust your eyes to your dim surroundings, tunneled, even. Clever but inapt. Rather, there’s too much light these days. It’s the vision you can’t adjust to, not the blindness. A man can see as far as he may endure, which presents its own problems.

What good is value without consequence? It’s time to look in the mirror and face facts: You live in an irrational nation. If you don’t know the answer, the question must not be important. If you don’t see the hole, you can’t fall in it. If you don’t hear the cries, someone must be laughing. If you kill a man, you must have had a good reason. You live in a void.

Furthermore, it turns out the unexamined life may be the only one worth living. Pick the right enemy, and you’ll do just fine. You’ve two choices: the fools or the failures. Both convinced they’re right, but one stronger because they don’t heave the burden of evidence before them. Either way, clean up your blast-beruffled feathers and fling your ass into the growing gloom.

So, partner, I don’t know what to tell you. We’re all loaded to the gills with righteousness and half of us are armed to the teeth. Everybody’s got the safety off. Eyeball your neighbor straight. If he asks your opinion on anything other than of men with numbers on their backs, be wary.

Roll Tide.

Friday, October 29, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report Fan Quiz for 10/29/04

1) Name the unluckiest coach in college football.

a. Mike Shula

b. Ron Zook

c. Pick ‘em

2) Name the member of Alabama’s starting backfield out for the season with a knee injury.

a. Croyle

b. Hudson

c. Castille

d. All of the above

3) Match the opposing coach with the defrocked Bama coach upon whom he squealed.

a. Fulmer (Tennessee) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ___ Dubose (recruiting violation)

b. Tubberville (Auburn) - - - - - - - - - - - - - ___ Price (stripper visitation)

4) Match the offensive coordinator with the most appropriate Christian orthodoxy.

a. Dave Rader ‘86 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ___ Roman Catholicism

b. Homer Smith - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ___ Unitarianism

c. Dave Rader ’04 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ___ Vatican II

5) To an SEC football fan, the number zero is:

a.the number of African-American SEC coaches prior to Sly Croom

b. the chance of a bowl appearance by MSU due to NCAA probation this year

c. the chance of an MSU bowl appearance this year anyway

6) Florida’s electoral votes will go to:

a. Bush

b. Kerry

c. Spurrier

7) William Morris, in his polemic “Why I Became a Socialist,” states that indifference in his own class demands a socialist state as a moral imperative. The middle class’s inability to establish roots in artistic tradition and inevitable embrace of material progress also troubles him. Therefore, when faced with 4th and 1 at midfield, Morris would most likely:

a. punt

b. run

c. pass

d. prefer baseball

8) Skynyrd:

a. rocks

b. totally rocks

c. totally fuckin’ rocks

9) Which one of these Joe Kines similes is decipherable?

a. “It’s like cutting a lady’s scarf with a sword.” (on tackling Arkansas QB Matt Jones)

b. "It’s like getting hit in the head with a ball peen hammer.” (on losing to UT)

c. “It’s like taking a pig slow dancing in front of the chickens.” (!?!?!?!?)

10) In Mobile, one RV leaves for Tuscaloosa at 3pm Thursday. A second RV leaves for Tuscaloosa at the same time from the opposite end of the state. Three more RVs leave from various locations at various times. A dozen more leave every hour on the hour for the next day. Calculate the amount of alcohol consumed in the Law Library parking lot.

Friday, October 22, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 10/22/04

Let’s clarify something: Alabama’s being only a touchdown underdog in tomorrow’s game says more about the (sizeable) betting pool in the state than of its team’s chances on the field. Thin all over and transparent in spots, the squad should not scientifically be able to win. But then, that’s what they said about the accursed Red Sox.

Why does the money flood the desert so? What emotion drives even the most rational homer to blow his payday on an artificially withered line? It’s a lure, I tell you! A damnable trap. And yet even as I say it, I’m reaching for my wallet and the worn scrap of paper on which I keep the Bird Dawg’s scrawled number.

Perhaps you need a history lesson.

Remember that time you were late for your post-lunch meeting with the boss? That guy who made you late, the guy in front of you at McDonald’s who stared at the menu for 10 minutes, the menu that’s stayed essentially the same for the past 54 frickin’ years? He’s a Tennessee fan.

That driver who cuts you off only to test out his new brake pads for the better part of rush hour? He’s a Tennessee fan.

You have a sister? That guy she dated in high school, the one who was few years older than her, told her he would call the night after and didn’t? Tennessee fan.

That guy with the three-wheels-and-a-cinder-block Mustang in his front yard? Kicks his dog? Tennessee fan.

The marketing pro who invented New Coke? Tennessee fan.

The legislator proposing a regressive sales tax initiative? Tennessee fan.

That record collector who prefers Wings to the Beatles? Tennessee fan.

The fifth dentist? Tennessee fan.

The undecided voter? Tennessee fan.

John Wilkes Booth? Lee Harvey Oswald? The guy who snuffed Franz Ferdinand?

Tennessee fan. Tennessee fan. Probably Heath Shuler.

Roll Tide.

Friday, October 15, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 10/15/04

Even though Cecil Hurt reported that this would be the last Football Report, I assure you, for good or ill, we roll on.

Homecoming weekend means playing Southern Miss, but not for much longer, especially since they keep getting better and we don’t. Change can be a scary thing. If your parents are alive and if they live in the same home you grew up in, write them a thank-you letter – don’t call or, if your sires are hip to the technique, e-mail; give them something tactile, something they can goddamn frame if they wish and hang on one of the walls you used to defame – today. They have saved you more trauma than you know.

Now, all that awaits you is a doorknob at your hip that should be at your head, a ceiling that used to be the sky, and at most the ghost limb of a bed you outgrew decades ago. Imagine entire rooms being amputated. Or worse, the whole house. The whole block. The town gone except for 288 cubic feet of dirt.

Of course, you remind yourself that you’re the one who’s changed, not the old homestead. And it could be worse. That’s the logic behind amputation in the first place, but where to draw that dotted line? You just hope not to awake on the table and hear the doc say, “It had to go. Everything. The whole she-bang. Your whole body’s a memory now.”

So you can’t go home again. But here’s hoping some memories do come back. Last year, Bama’s third string QB played within the plan and brought it home against the Golden Eagles. The plan’s changed, but not the rest.

Roll Tide.

Friday, October 08, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 10/08/04

"The first one was a matter of not seeing the defender. The second one was just a bad decision on my part."
Alabama quarterback Marc Guillon, on his two interceptions vs. South Carolina

"I was kind of surprised."
Alabama quarterback Marc Guillon, on being benched for the second half

One thing’s for sure. Marc Guillon may not be a one-in-a-million quarterback, but he’s at least 1 in 83,000 because he was the only person in Bryant-Denny Stadium last Saturday who didn’t see that coming.

But, to be fair, blindness was Guillon’s specialty last week. Safeties, linebackers, long snaps, open receivers – all may belong to the parable of the blind. Perhaps it’s nitpicking, but wouldn’t “not seeing the defender” count as a bad decision, too?

Coach Shula also has marks on that scorecard. Is he trying to be funny when, after offering up to entropy Our Blessed Saint of Rainbow City time and time again, he finally pulls a QB from the game at the half? Apparently he didn’t get the memo from Dave Eggers that sincerity is the new irony.

So it’s a blessing to play Kentucky this week, Kentucky, who lost to Ohio, better known by their proper name: Ohio-not-Ohio-State-Ohio; Kentucky, a basketball school; Kentucky, one hair’s breadth better than Vanderbilt; Kentucky, so unthreatening a program that I drink your bourbon without qualm; Kentucky, a respirator for Old South gentility; Kentucky, the crosshatching of great horses, great music, great alcohol, and dependably bad football. Kentucky, I cheer for you. Kentucky, I beg of you: Please lose.

And while losing to U of ONOSO should make the Wildcats a guaranteed W, the Bird Dawg and his devious computer have laid a seductive less-than-touchdown spread. I pray this is so much money-bait, but who can be certain with the Californian under center?

Dude, Roll Tide. Dude?

Friday, October 01, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 10/01/04

Croyle has been comforted by an outpouring of support from Alabama fans.Former Tide quarterback Joe Namath, who had his own knee troubles during his playing days, is one of those who have reached out to the young quarterback."Any time a legend calls and talks to you, it feels good," Croyle said.

Tuscaloosa News report, Sept. 30, 2004

Broadway: John Croyle’s boy?

The Brodie: Yes, sir.

Broadway: Surely these are trying times for you, Bobby Brady.

The Brodie: Indeed, sir. I appreciate Milton more. Satan and God, it’s a love story, really. Unhealthy love like that between those couples who wear matching jumpsuits.

Broadway: This comforts you?

The Brodie: No, but it’s useful. Milton, through Satan, says Hell is to be cast from the face of God. For those who have known Paradise and have been cast out, Hell is a lack. “I am Hell,” says Satan. To have your blessing removed is to be cursed. They are the same.

Broadway: Was it Blake who said all men despise that which they possess wholly?

The Brodie: Yes, sir. Carlyle echoed that idea, albeit in a streak of agnosticism.

Broadway: Carlyle! That fascist piker! You kids are irredeemable. That’s how you’ll survive this bear-trap we’re all in. Perhaps, like all optimists, I am a fool. Yet optimism cannot always be without merit. Would it surprise you to know I consider myself a Byronic hero?

The Brodie: It would not, sir.

Broadway: Is it that obvious? My point is that I do not hate myself for it, this role, this knowledge of my role. This blessing, this curse, I possess it wholly but I do not despise it. I am capable of changing my behavior but not the wellspring below it.

The Brodie: And of my role, sir, what should I make of it? Is this my role, the perpetual subjunctive?

Broadway: Let’s contemporize ourselves. The New York poet James Schuyler wrote “I can’t recall when I didn’t love you. God, it must have been awful.” Do you see? Memory is our promise to the past. We forget what we don’t need and use what we remember. Thus, if what-we-wish-to-happen and what-we-wish-to-have-happened are made of the same stuff, I choose the unknown. I shape it, day by day.

The Brodie: This sounds like too much recovery-speak. Moses was allowed, at least, to see the Promised Land.

Broadway: We all have our saviors, boy. And we’ve all been lost.

The Brodie: Roll Tide.

Broadway: Roll Tide.

Friday, September 24, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/24/04

J'accuse, Coach Shula!

Before the endless torrents of abuse fall from the cheap seats and demand our newly minted coach's head, let's clear up a few entries from the evidence locker.

  1. Alabama's offense played to the level of its competition, which, indicated by the final score, was not where you need to be to keep up with Mr Jones and Co. in Fayetteville tomorrow.
  2. No one hit Our Beloved Saint of Rainbow City. In fact, few people touched him all night. Just because Ray Ray had his bell rung is no reason to diss the O line. Saying that is akin to wearing a life jacket to a funeral because the deceased drowned.
  3. Shula's not an idiot. He doesn't even look like Terry Bowden. Many legit reasons underscore the Brodie playing one more series last week, and it's a lotto number if her gets injured.
And there it is. The lotto. The royal flush. The thunderbolt. The separated-at-birth-twins-meeting-in-an-airport-because-they've-signed-up-for-the-same-package-tour-to-Australia. Poor decisions and bad coaching can be covered up by good players (references: Dubose, Mike; Alexander, Shawn; SEC title), but there's exactly shit you can do about luck. You're all in and that bastard across the table has an eight floating down the river. There's nothing you can do about it. You, as they say in boxing, have lost.
Shula's not a bad coach. It's worse than that. He's unlucky.
But at least now we know. The bounces will always go the other way. The coin will always come up tails. The kick will always fall outside the uprights. But at least you know.
So take your three backs and your poor man's Brock Berlin, face the Hawgs, and win ugly.
Roll Tide.

Friday, September 17, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 09/17/04

Happy birthday, Hank Williams, and I'll try not to hold it against you that you're dead.

Before dealing with the no-win situation that awaits Alabama tomorrow, a breather's needed. The Executioner and the Golden One are finally set to fight this weekend. It's a bout that's been in the works for nearly a year and in Hopkins' mind all his life -- even though he's got the age 'advantage' on De La Hoya by nearly a decade.

The take on Hopkins is that he's his own man -- at the very least, he's his own manager, trainer, accountant, press agent, and probably worst enemy, too. Case in point: after the fight was signed, Hopkins went back to his old neighborhood in South Philly, not for a social visit, mind you, but because a local contractor had taken his money and not performed the job.

Hopkins, with the biggest fight and the biggest payday of his life within view, drives downtown, finds the contractor -- a hulking man easily a foot taller and twice his size -- and beats the shit out of him on a street corner.

Seeing this giant felled by a man half his size, the neighborhood guys figured Hopkins must be back in town.

I offer this tale not to glorify insane street-wise credit plans, but rather to illustrate that if you expect standard risk-reward thinking from one side of the ring tomorrow night, look elsewhere.

When asked about his plans after the fight, Hopkins says he'll run for mayor of Philadelphia "if they can overlook the felony conviction."

Should be fun. As for football, this is a hateful game with no upside, a chance to appear the fool or the bully. So be it. Take their damned lunch money and get ready for the Hogs!

Roll Tide.

Friday, September 10, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/10/04

from Letters to a Young Nickelback

Dear and Honoured Sir,

I viewed your performance on the playing field last Saturday night – and do forgive my dilatoriness – but I do not care for writing letters prior to the game’s imminence. Such shift in my focus early in the week gives weight to the more unfortunate implements of the weekend ritual prior to their acceptable place.

In review of your playing against Utah State’s squad, dear Herr Castille, one is reminded of the vim and brio youth may bring to the gridiron. Surely your equally young compatriots on the offense – Hall, Caddell, Knight, Brown (especially Herr Brown!) – showed promise, but I was most struck by your contribution. This is because I regard the defensive backfield as the most poetic of stations, marked as it is by solitude on the edge of glorious heroism or shame.

As I once told another youth in another time, this title, this uniform, this duty, betokens a vigilant employment over and above other elements of playing and, yes, I am glad that you have this steady expressible existence with you. In the coaches’ playbooks, you are undoubtedly represented by an X, a demarcation in space, a position fixed upon our globe. Do not let this be a burden on you. I remind you: there is beauty everywhere.

I trust you will remain solitary and courageous in the contest with the Rebels from your neighboring state. May the year that lies before you preserve and strengthen you.

As is customary among your team’s adherents, I bid you Roll Tide.

Friday, September 03, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 9/04/04

Prophets, collect your winnings. Alabama is a big time program sooner than expected: Even our third string players can outrun the cops.

As for tomorrow, the prophets in the desert have the Tide over the (other) Aggies by a sizeable margin, too big to mention in polite company. This hubris speaks more to their lack than our surplus, I think, and also to our people’s impracticality. For example, I get drunk on pints instead of fifths this time of year because my blood is already thinned with optimism.

With all our fabulous frosh healthy and the Brodie with a chip on his surgically repaired shoulder, even I’m not taking the points. It’s flat-out victory, friends.

That drug optimism is street legal and pushers hang out on every corner in these parts. A few houses down, the Mayor of Nashville was emptying the trunk of his municipal Saturn and offered his take on (even) Vanderbilt’s chances against Grampy Lou tomorrow while my dog pissed in his yard. Somewhere along the Raritan, brothers trade expletives and empty bottles while planning a victory party they may or may not be awake for. And near the Salt Flats, dangerous young men dream of proving the prophets wrong.

Above all else, football can serve as a great alarm clock.

Roll Tide.

Friday, August 27, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 8/27/04

My past is a stupid butterfly’s overseas voyage.
-- Czeslaw Milosz

This is the last week we have nothing to talk about. The Olympics – they know their place – are winding down just before the college football season kick-off game, Trojans vs. Hokies, which sounds like a night club game mentioned in the new bio of Joe Namath by Mark Kriegel.

It’s dangerous to tread this path. Namath is football. He’s the jump pass, the Orange Bowl, the back-to-back, the cheap shot, the bomb, the fur coat, the Playboy Mansion, the backyard toss to Bobby Brady, the clean oven, the panty hose, the variety show, and – more and more with each passing year – the Guarantee.

Now, understand me, Our Blessed Saint of Rainbow City is no Namath – no one is. He’s far more Bible than Broadway. He probably doesn’t have a furrier on speed-dial or llama-hair carpet in his den. And I doubt he’ll ever kick Lindsay Lohan out of a penthouse a la Joe Willie and Ann-Margret. But the boy is tough. And the boy can throw.

In space, there are places named after numbers. The sheer volume of needed nomenclatures became overwhelming quickly and thus we are left with such unromantic stars as 78779-N. Sports have places named after numbers, too. For the Brodie, his number’s called and we await.

Roll Tide.

Friday, August 20, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 8/20/04

Odd but true, our coach appeared last night on religious television, discussing football and the catechism with the Franciscans. It’s worth remembering that when the Holy See decided to expand his grace and profit margin into Southeast Asia, a dictum followed his acolytes that all portraits were to display the Son of Man with straight black hair. A friend of mine, given to wearing a shirt proclaiming "DANGER: Educated Black Man", keeps a rendering of the Last Supper in his dining room, the apostle Peter a twin for Lou Rawls.

"Who Made Who[m]?" asks Angus and his guitar. We find the saviors we need, and if Bird Dawg and his ilk were to need one, it would surely be Danny Sheridan bearing the cross.

Sheridan -- who speaks the unspeakable; who watches college football with the passion of a solar-powered calculator; who loves with the fidelity of a pie chart; who sees tradition as fodder for freeway construction; who understands algebra but not athletics; who portrays himself a Karl Popper-esque avatar of our new open society; who, in his dual role as both Cassandra and Orpheus, heralds the BCS scheme, this revenue bursting marketing ploy for ad-friendly unit shifters; whose life is scorecards and debt slips, solipsism and sycophancy, rare steaks and blood rites -- is the go-to guy in the world of sports capping, the man who can talk openly about our dirty laundry, a Dr Ruth for gamblers.

In short, he is the saccharin frosting on a cake of shit.

So when he calls our coach a Barney, you listen. And when he scoffs at the idea of tradition, you accept it. And when he blasphemes against Our Blessed Saint of Rainbow City, who wore an iron cage under his number 12 last season as, week by week, his arm pulled slightly farther from the rest of him and still he peeled himself out of the ground, rose again, and readied himself for the next play with nothing more than that empty tradition and half a playbook to look to, you remember that.

And we’ll see who has his cake and eats it, too.

Roll Tide.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 8/14/04

I'm no luddite.

Technology is a grand thing. All you fearful of Big Brother implants and supercomputer slave-drivers might as well stop reading here because from my p.o.v., H.A.L. was just a misunderstood workin' stiff trying to get the job done right and if that means a few protein-swilling carbon bags have to take a one-way trip through the airlock. . . Well, that's progress, compadre.

All in all, we're still in the black in this deal and reaping new profits all the time. Case in point: data mining. Search through the Crimson Tide's practice reports for this week -- pick a card, any card -- for the word hope. The average is over two per article (more hits when a coach provides a quote, your mileage may vary).

In descending order, hope is a dangerous commodity for generals, prisoners, and football coaches. For the first, it's as good as a bullet in an open field. For the second, it's mail forwarded to the wrong address. And for the last set, our set, it's worthwhile only in hindsight if it doesn't get you fired. Give me a good plan and I can forego hope every day of the week. Hell, there are whole continents living without it right now, seems silly to waste what little we have before the games have even started.

Still, with a team this young, hope is so pervasive it almost becomes physical, a reverse transmogrification less a miracle than a demand.

Roll Tide.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Countdown Edition -- Live from the belly of the beast.

Yes, friends, we're still in Tennessee -- to quote one coach in these parts, "the border's still open." And while the more rotund constituency of the SEC's coaching ranks might claim otherwise, trespass across that border continues without incident.

Here's a dirty little secret: most members of my clan step on a rainbow between the ages of 45 and 55. The one exception to this rule was my aunt Mat, who held a chokehold on life until her 98th via a steady diet of hot toddies. Mat was a USO girl. She danced with GIs stateside before they crawled across Europe ducking shells. Sometimes, the old girl allowed more than a foxtrot for a young feller about to cross the ocean. Her favorite story was of one soldier who was permitted beyond foxtrot-zone a few weeks in a row, each time claiming that he was sure his orders were coming in that week. Her punchline: "I wouldn't have believed him either, except he was so handsome!"

Point being that what we want to see is sometimes more real than what is there. Coach had a spring this year and no one on the roster's been arrested. This counts for success? Lord, how the times change.

But with a (mostly) soft schedule, a (relatively) strong recruiting class, and a (thoroughly) consistent coaching staff in place, it's possible to dream of bowling this year.

I shudder to think what dear Auntie Mat would have done to the Brodie in her prime.

Roll Tide.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

University of Alabama Football Report for 01/18/04

The day before I married his daughter, the man who became my father-in-law and I stood in the kitchen of the reception hall, a beachfront property owned by one of those great Southern women’s organizations whose litmus test is a proper birth certificate, and we watched the caterer massage a whole pig, tail to snout, working in a marinade, preparing to bury it under a wheelbarrow load of smoldering coal and hickory.

The caterer had a peculiar name beginning with the letter X. And according to pater-to-be, so did the caterer’s village, a small town in the Philippines barely the size of a family reunion. Naming signifies loyalty. The village’s name begins with X so will yours. The caterer’s family, neighbors, friends, enemies – everyone named with an X.

But here’s the kicker, friends: The village, the citizens, even the caterer, used to spell their names with an F instead. The X followed the caterer home one night in his youth. Impulsive or stupid, the caterer whose name began with F at the time committed some crime in the big city. No one knows exactly what, but certainly something befitting the impulsive or stupid.

The X followed him to the village, as did two of the big city cops. And when the cops arrived, they went straight – in a place so small, there’s no other way but straight, really – to the caterer’s house, dragging him out in his yard and forcing him to his knees. The caterer’s parents ran screaming after them, explaining to the authorities they had the wrong man, the wrong village even. The police were looking for the boy from the village beginning with the letter F. This village and this boy had names beginning with X.

Enraged, the police went to the next home, the caterer in tow, asking each villager, who had seen the spectacle in the yard, “What is this village’s name?” and “Who is this boy?” At each home, the name of the village, person by person, changed from beginning with the letter F to the letter X.

Eventually the head man of the village asked the police into his home. They railed at him, explaining how they’d followed the caterer, whose name now began with X, from the city and how they’d followed him to this village, whose name apparently also now began with X. The head man simply told them they’d made a common mistake. They had found the wrong village with a similar name.

But to prove their case, the police referred to an official government map, clearly illustrating the town’s name beginning with the letter F. The head man, smiling, said, “See? I told you it was a common mistake. Even the map is wrong.”

No one likes a rat.

Roll Tide.