Friday Follies

Few college football coaches are renowned for their verbal skills. Witty repartee and incisive commentary may occasionally escape from the likes of Mike Leach or Steve Spurrier, but most coaches prefer to communicate within the friendly confines of Coachspeak. Playing one game at a time, getting heads on straight, no "I" in team, and giving 110% make up the syllabus for Football Coachspeak 101.

Creativity is frowned upon. The idea seems to be that it is best to say something without really saying anything at all. Add to it that the most quoted coaches are actually those who are most prone to saying something incredibly stupid and we begin to understand the reticence to speak candidly. Accustomed to having every public sentence recorded, dissected, and analyzed, coaches avoid originality and retreat to the tried and true. For the fan eager for information, however, Coachspeak doesn't communicate anything at all.

How many times have we heard a favorite coach vow to "look at the film", "work like heck", and "get back to playing Tennessee football"? The most we learn about upcoming opponents is that "they have 85 players on scholarship" and "we'll have to play our best football to beat them" so we'll need to "get back to the practice field" and "give 110%".

In all honesty, we don't expect secret game plan information to be broadcast on the call-in show and we realize there are issues of tact and diplomacy that couch many answers. There's no reason, though, why the answers have to be the same week after week. Variety and individuality could spice things up a bit. With that in mind, we have some suggestions for creative answers and memorable quotes for coaches that will bring a renewed excitement to the pre-game show, the dressing room show, the call-in show, and the coach-is-running-to-the-locker room-at-half-time interview.

Cool Hand Luke

Paul Newman's turn in this 1967 movie classic provides for a host of quotable phrases. Imagine an interview that went like this…

Q: Tell us what you think about your tailback's performance today.

Coach: He's a natural born world-shaker.

Q: What did you see in him at halftime that led you to make him the got to guy for the second half?

Coach: He was smiling... That's right. You know, that, that old smile of his. He had it on his face right to the very end. Heck, if they didn't know it 'fore, they could tell right then that they weren't a-gonna beat him. That old smile. Oh, he was some boy. Cool Hand. He's a natural-born world-shaker.

Q: You must be proud of the way your senior DT stepped up today.

Coach: That's my darling. He grins like a baby but bites like a gator.

Q: There have been several incidents of your players here at State U having off season brushes with the law, how have you addressed that with the team?

Coach: Now, I can be a good guy, or I can be one real mean sonofagun. What we got here is... failure to communicate. You mess up one time, you got yourself probation. You run afoul of the rules twice you got yourself kicked off the team. You ain't gonna need no third chance, 'cause you gonna get your mind right. I am gon' ask them boys if they mind is right.

That's what she said

Although not particularly original, a coach could frequently pepper his responses with the classic nod to country double-entendre. How's this for knee-slapping fun?

Q: It was a tough night out there tonight, wasn't it?

Head coach: That's what she said

Q: It seemed like there was nothing going up the middle

Head coach: That's what she said

Q: Your QB really seemed to put it right where he wanted.

Head coach: That's what she said

Nonsense country expressions in the vein of Dan Rather

Election nights watching CBS were always puzzling. Life-long southerners would just turn to one another and shrug whenever Dan would babble one of his cornpone neologisms. While not exactly a form of clear communication, they could provide fodder for discussion if applied to the football field. The only downside is that this has been Bobby Bowden's shtick for a generation. Imagine one of your coaches talking like this.

Q: Coach, how do you see the SEC East shaping up so far?

Coach: This race is tight like a too-small bathing suit on a too-long ride home from the beach. I mean it's tighter than the rusted lug nuts on a '55 Ford.

Q: Does the outcome of the season have any impact on job security?

Coach: A football coaching job is shakier than cafeteria Jell-O."

Q: You're very familiar with the opposing head coach, having coached against him for many years now.

Coach: He swept through the South like a tornado through a trailer park. But I ain't skeered. Folks say I am burnt like newlywed toast, but don't bet the BINGO money on it just yet.

Q: Who's going to be starter at QB, the junior or the redshirt freshman?

Coach: Ye can't get a cigarette paper between'em.

Q: How about the third string kid?

Coach: His chances are slim right now and if he doesn't learn the playbook, slim will have left town.

Q: Coach, Florida is coming to town…..

Coach: If you're gonna make biscuits, you better be hungry. You don't haul off and take grandma to an auction. The boys're slicker than a deacon at a tent meeting, but here's only one Roy Acuff and 50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong.

Shakespeare

Our universities are institutions of higher learning. How fitting it would be for the most visible representative of the institution to exhibit attributes of refinement and culture by sprinkling his speech with quotes from The Bard?

Q: 5-6 last season. How do you recover from that?

Coach:

Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.

Q: You asked some coaches to move on after last season.

Coach:

I pray thee cease thy counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless
as water in a sieve.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind,
As man's ingratitude.

I hate ingratitude more in a man
than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness,
or any taint of vice whose strong corruption
inhabits our frail blood.

I must be cruel only to be kind;
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.

Q: Some say your better days are behind you.

Coach:

Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,
Till by broad spreading it disperses to naught.

Q: Pre-season practice is over. A big-time opponent comes to town this week. What do you say to your team?

Coach:

Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
Be great in act, as you have been in thought.

Q: So, to your critics you say?

Coach: I am not bound to please thee with my answers. I did never know so full a voice issue from so empty a heart: but the saying is true 'The empty vessel makes the greatest sound'.

Holy Grail

Although nearly impossible to work into conversations about football, the Monty Python classic is bound to entertain. Bonus points to the first coach to use these.

Q: Coach, some people are wondering why you stayed with the prevent defense during that last drive.

Coach: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Q: But, certainly there are some things you wish you'd done differently

Coach: No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

Hip Hop

A head coach could seal his place as the ace nationwide recruiter if he would only drop a few hip hop lyrics into his press interviews. Rap has East Coast vs West Coast, football has the West Coast offense and an East Coast media bias. Why couldn't one of the SEC coaches be the new M.C. and roll old school like L.L. Cool J.?

Q: Coach, would you say your comeback is complete with that big bowl win?

Coach:

Don't call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rockin' my peers
Puttin' suckers in fear
Makin' the tears rain down like a monsoon
Listen to the bass go boom
Explosion, overpowerin'
Over the competition, I'm towerin'
Records shock
When I drop these lyrics
That'll make you call the cops
Don't you dare stare
You betta move
Don't ever compare me to the rest
They'll all get sliced and diced
Competition's payin' the price

I'm gonna knock you out
Mama said knock you out
I'm gonna knock you out
Mama said knock you out

Or maybe Grandmaster Flash…

Q: Is there pressure in coaching college football?

Coach:

Dont push me, ‘cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to loose my head
Its like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

How about Kurtis Blow?

Q: Several of General Neyland's 7 Maxims mention "the breaks": Play for and make the breaks and when one comes your way - SCORE……If at first the game - or the breaks - go against you, don't let up... put on more steam….Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made. How did Tennessee do in that regard today?

Coach:

Clap your hands everybody
If you got what it takes
'Cause I'm Coach M.C. and I want you to know
That these are the breaks
Brakes on a bus brakes on a car
Breaks to make you a superstar
Breaks to win and breaks to lose
But these here breaks will rock your shoes
And these are the breaks
Break it up break it up break it up!

But I think he could flow with some of the new school if he had to. A little Jay-Z from a few years back?

Q: Another SEC championship. How did you stay hungry coach?

Coach:

I don't how to sleep, I gotta eat, stay on my toes
Gotta a lot of beef, so logically, I prey on my foes
Hustling's still inside of me, and as far as progress
you'd be hard-pressed, to find another rapper hot as me
I gave you prophecy on my first joint, and y'all lamed out
Didn't really appreciate it, ‘til the second one came out

Could the big man trip Snoop or Fitty? You know it. Maybe he needs to flaunt the success. Get a platinum grill. Some bling. Recruits would love it.

Q: How do you see the coming off season?

Coach:

Laid back [with my mind on my money and my money on my mind]
My flow, my show brought me the dough
That bought me all my fancy things
My crib, my cars, my pools, my jewels
Look ----- I go K-Mart and I ain't change
Napoleon Dynamite

The offbeat cult comedy film could be a goldmine for a whole new approach to interviews. John Heder created a unique character and an aspiring coach could provide an homage to the nerd king and his family. Imagine this for a call-in show.

Host: Coach, what is new about the philosophy at State U. this fall?

Coach: At State, we use the buddy system. No more flying solo. You need somebody watching your back at all times. Second off, you're gonna learn to discipline your image. You think I got where I am today because I dressed like Peter Pan over here? Take a look at what I'm wearing, people. You think anybody wants a roundhouse kick to the face while I'm wearing these bad boys? Forget about it. Last off, my students will learn about self respect. You think anybody thinks I'm a failure because I go home to Mrs. Coach at night? Forget about it!

Caller - Dave from McMinnville: Coach, what are you going to do to get ready for the SEC slate?

Coach: Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!

Host: How are you preparing for Coach Richt?

Coach: I drew this cool picture of him. I spent like three hours doing shading the upper lip. It's probably the best drawing I've ever done.

Host: Yeah... it's really... neat..

Caller - Boo boo from Opelika: What is it that makes you such a great coach?

Coach: Skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills. Fans only want coaches who have great skills.

Host: Coach, how was last weekend and the open date?

Coach: I caught you a delicious bass.

Caller - Jimmy from Frankfort: Coach, you're the greatest. I just want to say Go Team!

Coach: Yesssssss!

Host: How have you changed since you first started coaching?

Coach: Back in '82, I used to be able to throw a pigskin a quarter mile. I could throw a football over those mountains.

Host: Are you serious?

Coach: I'm dead serious.

Caller from Gainesville: Go Gators! Coach Meyer the best coach in the SEC.

Coach: Yeah right. Who's the only one here who knows the illegal ninja moves from the government?

Maybe we'll see a whole new breed of coaching interviews this coming season. Full of excitement and energy. Creative on and off the field in 2006. I am confident they'll look at the film, give 110%, work like heck, and get back to playing great football.


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