Monday, October 20, 2014

For a day, Mississippi is King of College Football

It was a bad nightmare.

Cowbells kept clanging so hard my brain wanted to jump out of my head.  An earlier rainstorm had made my clothes feel as if they were in the middle of the rinse cycle.  Oh, and my beloved Auburn Tigers had just been defeated.

So why was I smiling?

Maybe it was because of the father I saw hugging his young son, pure love coming from both of them.

Maybe it was due to the overwhelming look of happiness I saw on fan faces as they celebrated like it was V-E Day.

It could have been the young woman, either overcome with joy or booze or both, crying as she rang a cowbell bigger than her forearm.

I think, though, the reason for my smile is because I have been in their shoes and know the pure exhilaration of a program-defining victory.

Their neighbor to the east, especially in football, has long overshadowed the state of Mississippi.  While Auburn and Alabama have captured the nation’s attention, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have been considered also-rans. 

Well, until this year.

Mississippi State just does not win big games.  That was the sentiment heading into the clash between No. 2 Auburn and the No. 3 Bulldogs.  Auburn has more talent.  The moment is too big for State.  How will they handle all this hype? 

I mean, College Gameday was making their first ever appearance in Starkville.

It shouldn’t have been the Bulldogs that we were worried about.

Behind quarterback Dak Prescott, Mississippi State emphatically answered any and all questions.

The record crowd grew louder with each touchdown, inching closer to a victory of unseen proportions in this small western Mississippi town.

The mass celebration really began in the middle of the 4th quarter.  I have been in many great atmospheres, but listening to the crowd sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” to the beat of 55,000 cowbells ranks right up there.

You know the phrase “act like you’ve been there before?"  That didn’t apply in this case.  Mississippi had never been in this position before.  They came into the game with their highest ranking in the program’s history.  They left with a No. 1 ranking in the near future.

Walking down the seemingly endless ramp, fellow Auburn fans and myself were invisible to the raucous Bulldog faithful.  Instead of the usual trash talk, State fans were focused on their team, their fellow fans and, importantly, their university.

For a day, there would be no more “thank God for Mississippi” jokes.  With Ole Miss’ win against the mighty Crimson Tide a week earlier, the Magnolia State was on top of the college football world, both figuratively and literally.  All of the problems facing states like Mississippi disappeared just for a while.

Women wept, grown men hugged, cowbells clanged and this Auburn man couldn’t help but smile.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jay Jacobs Over-"Jews" It In Pearl Press Conference

AUBURN - In a move to make newly hired Bruce Pearl, a man of Jewish faith, feel welcome in Auburn, athletic director Jay Jacobs went out of his way to make Yiddish references in his introduction of Pearl as head basketball coach.

"Bruce is a real mentsh," Jacobs said to a confused, mostly protestant audience.  "He will fit in perfectly with the Auburn family, or 'mishpocheh' if you will."

Despite leaving Tennessee after being caught committing NCAA violations, Pearl is a popular hire among people on the Plains.  "I'm getting all verklempted thinking of when he agreed to become our new coach," Jacobs stated.

Pearl has been a successful coach in his career but does not come without baggage.  Pearl, along with officials from the Auburn athletic department, will meet with the NCAA soon to hopefully have the show-cause penalty lifted before it expires on August 23.

"Even with Pearl's past," Jacobs continued "I would have been a real shlemiel not to hire him.  He is a proven winner and he will work his tuches off to make Auburn a winner again."

Throughout the athletic department, employees were given orange and navy yarmulkes to wear and the flower arrangement at the front desk was replaced with an out-of-date Menorah.  

"We tried to tell Jay that Hanukkah was not occurring but he would have none of it," said Kirk Sampson, sports information director for Auburn University.  "Earlier, we caught him stepping on a glass and yelling 'OPA!' and we had to alert him that that was, in fact, Greek."

After the press conference, Jacobs could be heard praising Pearl's "shtick" on the sidelines and how he had "schlepped" all the way up north to meet with Pearl, who was working for ESPN.

"He assured me that everything would be kosher when it comes to following the NCAA rules," Jacobs said while looking up the term "War Eagle" in Hebrew.

When asked about Jacobs' comments, Pearl mumbled, "Freaking gentiles."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fixing U.S. Curling For 2018

That's it!  I am sick of waiting four years for curling to be highlighted and then watch the American men fail.  I'm tired of losing to guys named Sebastian and Eriksson.  It kills me when our skip chokes once again and the Americans are left conceding the match after the eighth end.  This is the United States of America we are talking about!  We can't dominate in a sport that you can drink beer while playing?  Countries like Sweden and Norway are coming into our "house" and laughing after another easy victory?  ENOUGH!  If we follow these steps, we will be a dominant force by the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang:

1. More Intimidating Athletes

Our players look like accountants and real estate agents.  No one will ever be intimidated by them.  My solution?  Bring in some current or recently retired NFL players, teach them the sport and then watch as they stand over the stone like a bad ass!  The U.S. honorary captain is Vernon Davis of the 49ers, so we already have a fan.  I am certain that Mr. Torger Nergaard of Norway will think twice before releasing the stone with Patrick Willis standing close by.  Anyone would be more intimidating than this guy.

2.  Ban John Shuster from Curling

Speaking of that guy, that is our current skip John Shuster.  He also served in that position in 2010.  Both Olympics have been epic failures for this guy.  He is Bill Buckner, John Starks and Dan Marino all rolled into one.  The most frustrating part of Mr. Shuster is that he starts playing well AFTER the U.S. is already eliminated from making the elimination rounds.  He's David Wright in the eighth inning of a 12-3 game.

3.  Full-Time Curlers

You want to know how to tell we don't take the sport seriously?  We make these guys go out and earn a living on their own while curlers in other countries compete full time.  We don't make LeBron get a summer job, do we?  You won't see Aaron Rodgers selling insurance during the off-season!  (Okay, bad example.)  Let's gather up some sponsors for these guys (I'm looking at you, corporations based in Minnesota) and make them full-time, at the rink 10 hours a day, curlers.

4.  Language Lessons

Sure, our players can talk all the trash they want in English but so can the other teams. Now, how awesome would it be if our players could tell a Finnish curler to "not choke on your balls" IN FINNISH?  That would have to freak them out a little bit, right?  Two hours a day will be spent on learning trash-talk phrases in every competitors' language.  This has to be worth at least 2-3 points a match.

5.  Get Our Fans Involved

I am picturing a cross between the Cameron Crazies of Duke and the soccer fans in the movie Green Street Hooligans.  Look, we as Americans are already known as the most obnoxious, loud and arrogant people on this planet.  We might as well use that reputation to help out our now bilingual, muscular curling team.  When the other team is about to release the stone, we can yell about their mother being the town whore.  Other team trying to talk strategy?  We chant as loud as we can about how their country is inferior to ours.  I can just imagine the scene: Russia vs. USA, gold medal match, 10th end and we need a point.  "GO STAND IN A BREAD LINE (CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP)."

If we do these things, I foresee a team of Vernon Davis, Ray Lewis, Patrick Willis and J.J. Watt bringing home the gold.  U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Russia To World: "We Thought You Were Joking!"

SOCHI - In a bizarre statement only three days before the start of the Winter Olympics, Russian President Vladmir Putin claimed during a press conference that Russia never actually thought the Winter Olympics would be held in Sochi.

"We thought it was a prank," Putin stated while petting his toy poodle Magnus.  "We are horrible people. Why would you ever agree to give us the world stage?"

Reports of unfinished hotels and lack of the basic amenities in some rooms have filtered out over the past 24 hours as media have flocked to the coastal town.  One reporter took to Twitter with anger after her hotel room did not have running water.

"What were you expecting?  We only figured out that these games were real like a week ago" said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The press conference, which was delayed for 10 minutes while aides for both Putin and Medvedev searched for phone books for the two to sit on so they could reach the microphone, took place in what used to be the janitor's closet at the Sochi Best Western.

"We all make mistakes," Medvedev continued "but this one is totally not on us. We thought you were joking. Why on earth would we host the Winter Olympics at the one place in Russia that doesn't get a lot of snow? That's just crazy talk."

When asked why, if they thought it was a joke, the Russian government built a large stadium in Sochi, Putin responded, "Oh that? That, um, is just for monster truck rallies."

A reporter from the BBC then asked whether the conditions at hotels will be better for the 2018 World Cup.

"What? That is also real? That can't be real. Now, these pecs? These are real!" Putin shouted while disrobing.

The press conference ended with both Russian leaders praising the work of the Russian people with "only weeks to prepare for the games" and Putin demanding the media to note that, even at just five foot seven, he is three inches taller than Medvedev.

"He's so short!" Putin exclaimed.