Friday, July 25, 2008

University of Alabama Football Report for 7/25/08: The Making of a Quagmire at SEC Media Days

Day One: Never Hire a Carpenter with a Messiah Complex

Hoover, Alabama, should be proud of itself.

Not only is the Birmingham suburb home to one of the state’s more upscale residential areas and a nationally televised high school reality drama (?), but it has accomplished this while being mooned by Vulcan, Red Mountain’s pantsless icon of a steel industry gone bust.

Into the shadow of those rusty cheeks, the twelve teams of the Southeastern Conference have each sent a caravan of one coach and two players as sacrifice before the oracles of television, radio, print, and internet(s). In the modern time of daily—hell, hourly—online sports coverage, some have openly questioned the purpose of the event as little more than show ponying. However, with so many riders, a carousel may be necessary.

The latest national championship coach in the SEC is having a grand time. He has the look of a man riding the up escalator even when he’s walking flat earth. And if you think his Alabama jokes are funny, you should hear the ones he uncorks about blind people.

Things look more serious, or at least more serious looking, when the conference’s earlier national championship coach speaks. And of course he brings his true trophy with him, just as his trophy brings the Heisman.

Why do I have such distaste for Tim Tebow? I am not one to shun success; it is a wicked world and anyone with will enough to climb forward should be recognized for their efforts.

Mere rivalry cannot explain this; no one despises Bo Jackson. Is it because Tebow’s success appears so free of struggle? That his victories, through their ease, mock the costs they require? Were it not for sunglasses and mescal, I don’t think I could bear more than five minutes of his halo’s glow. There’s something about the guy that makes me want to break a commandment.

The world is wicked, though, and it is only a matter of time until someone with two boards and a handful of nails speaks to Tim Tebow in a language he can understand. Perhaps merely the heartbreak of his assured apocalypse is what rises such dread in me.

Or maybe it’s because he gets his jollies by slicing Asian cock.

Day Two: What We Talk about When We Talk about Torts

The sundry and sunbaked media types at SEC Media Days are, on average, a cynical lot. They’ve eaten far too much sausage after seeing how it’s made. And, while the early morning scheduling of these press events helps the print and television outlets with their respective deadlines, one senses that the larger motive is ensure that a segment of the old timers are at least mildly sober.

The star of the day is not our Great Leader, who arrived, in an attempt to foil a repeat of last year’s mobscene, rather stealthily at the hotel before taking his place behind the lectern. Nor is it the coach of the probable number one team in the nation Mark Richt or perpetual drama queen Houston Nutt.

Today’s spotlight falls on the frenzy—the obsession with football that, in a small sense, leads Alabama fans to crowd the upper decks for spring practice and, in a larger one, spurs fans across the South to dedicate the GNP of a European principality to its continued support and survival. The objective correlative of the frenzy today is a subpoena.

The subpoena derives from a Latin phrase meaning “under penalty” and originates from English common law procedures soliciting a witness’s appearance in those cases where the witness may wish to avoid cooperation with the court. The service of a subpoena is often charged to a processor rather than any standing member of the court. The potentially uncooperative witness served at Media Days, in the fulfillment of a threat dropped long ago by different litigant, was none other than Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer.

Fulmer initially denied he was served—until someone wisely informed him that stonewalling legal documents is a little different than firing Randy Sanders—and then confirmed the subpoena by calling it “B.S.”

And he’s right, of course. But it seems rude to complain of bullshit when you’re wearing the cowbell yourself.

Day Three: Nobody Follows Elvis

If you’re an asshole for long enough, eventually people get used to it. That, above all else, is the lesson of Steve Spurrier. The icecaps will melt before Les Miles’s act becomes half as entertaining as that of the current South Carolina coach. But for all the swagger and snark that accompanies a Spurrier sermon before the media, this point is often lost: the ol’ ball coach is a realist.

Spurrier is his own harshest critic. And if you work or play for Spurrier, he is your harshest critic too. That’s convenient one-stop shopping for a football team, and it helps that—to my knowledge—Spurrier the critic has never told anything but the truth as he sees it. And his eyesight’s pretty damn good.

I doubt he will ever win the division, much less the conference or the national championship, at South Carolina. And in terms of offensive innovation, Spurrier’s long since been replaced by the tinker toys of the spread (don’t even get me started about the A-11). Though he’ll never admit it, he must know that.

Perhaps that’s why his son is taking over the majority of play-calling duties this season. The Spurrier on today’s sideline is already a chairman emeritus.

Don’t take this for a sweetheart letter: oh, he’ll still knife you, but never in the back, amigo.

Roll Tide.