Thou art not conquered; beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death’s pale flag is not advanced there.
Romeo and Juliet (Act V, Scene iii)
The NCAA, in its infantile wisdom, has decreed that college football takes up too much of my time. New regulations affecting game clock operation will shorten actual time of an average game by estimates of half an hour. That equates to ten plays a game (per a PAC-10 coach) or two plays a game (per an SEC coach), and despite our West Coast brethren’s bluster as of late, this mathematical variation does not mean Southerners don’t know how to count. But it does mean we know how to play football and bleed at the same time.
However, the NCAA has agreed with my shrink that college football leaves me with too much idle time as well, as Alabama and every other school in the land will be playing a twelfth game during the regular season. Alabama, unlike other schools, will be doing so without luxury of an off week, which is no problem for me. Without my usual off-week agenda to worry about, I’ll have a few more Vicodin available for New Year’s when I really need them.
Neither of these changes benefit the student athlete, the supposed interest of the NCAA, but benefit television networks and their advertisers like nothing short of the new crime series CSI: Nudist Colony. The only more transparent and crass move would have been for the NCAA to outlaw Native American mascot names and replace them with shoe company logos. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your University of Illinois Fighting Adidas.
Lo, adjustments in college football’s space-time continuum are not the only changes in store for 2006. At the end of Bryant Drive, fans will notice a new face on an old hang out – and I don’t mean the long defunct Chukker. Bryant-Denny Stadium received a seven-figure style renovation over the summer: luxury boxes, high-def scoreboards, imported crimson marble accents. And aligning the new entrance plaza stand four larger-than-scale statues of the four National Championship coaches: Wade (1925, 1926, 1930), Thomas (1934, 1941), Bryant (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979), and Stallings (1992).
Best of all, at the end of the row sits an empty spot ready for a matching fifth. No pressure, Mike!