While I'm not that into college ball, it's pretty hard to ignore tonight's Rose Bowl. USC and Texas lock up tonight in Pasadena for what will probably be the polar opposite of that ''little old lady from Pasadena'' story that you always hear when you talk used cars. This will be huge muscle, big money, high stakes, maximum exertion, supreme athleticsm... you know, the whole nine.
This game also has all of the people currently playing college football that I can name without looking up. College football is more of a coach show than a player show, and they get more cheddar than is thrown at, say, your college history teacher.
They probably deserve it. I taught for a few years, and only God knows how I would have done if I had to put the kids in a bus and go take on the kids at Stoneham or Brockton twice a week in front of 70,000 test-crazy loyalists who were being fed $8 beers. MCAS says that I'd win Brockton and lose at Stoneham, but I'd still hate to have my fate determined by people who believed in Santa Claus 12 years ago.
Even in sports, things happen that shock me. One of them was the success of our very own New England Patriots. When Bill Belichick took over this team, they looked friggin' awful. Writers all around the country united in their disdain for the local team, and we looked to be what NBA fans call a ''consistent lottery team.''
Instead, we reeled off 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, and essentially ran the NFL like a dangerous pimp for all of this current century. I know children who have never seen anyone else win one. Our offensive linemen and safeties have more lucrative endorsement deals than franchise players like LaDanian Tomlinson or Randy Moss do. Winning all the time does that.
A huge factor in this was Tom Brady. After Mo Lewis big-manned Drew Bledsoe out of the way, the then-unknown Brady morphed into Joe Montana. Champagne Tom now rolls with an actress, meets the Pope, turns up atthe State of the Union address, has a bunch of commercials, and is the Sportsman of the Year.
The other thing that put us over the top was bringing in a genius to run the show. Belichick has, so far, destroyed anyone who has come up against him in a game of any consequence. He ran a 1940 play last week. His defenses work with rookies and unsigned free agents. If Bill Belichick was running Gulf War I, there would have been no need for a Gulf War II.
Belichick was a vast improvement over his predecessor. The team he took over had a sound defense, but they couldn't score with a blow-up doll. Bill got some breaks, but there can be no doubt of the mammoth effect his presence had on the team. It was like night and day.
So, you can imagine my shock when Pete Carroll became an instant dynasty at USC. Pete was laughably bad here, and his ''jacked and pumped'' is still the worst description of a team I've ever heard an athlete/coach use.. and that list used to include Parcells calling players ''she,'' and Butch Hobson saying ''We ran good.''
Once he hit USC, he started steady smashing everybody up. He has brought us 2 Heisman Trophy winners. He won the national title last year, beating Oklahoma like a government mule. He's favored to do so again tonight. While the Patriots were solid defensively during his time here, there was nothing showing in his performance that made many think that he'd rule college football shortly after.
Maybe he recruits really well, due to mothers liking him better than some angry Bear Bryant guy that seems to pop up at all those Southern schools. Maybe good players just figured out where California is. Perhaps there was a deal with Lucifer, as many have suggested is the case with Belichick (who was widely despised when he left Cleveland). Maybe some guys are just better suited to coaching kids than adults.
Either way, I'd suggest tuning in tonight. Texas has a ferocious defense. They also have Vince Young, who is a regular one-man-gang out there. USC has Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, who just may go 1-2 in the next NFL draft. This will be either a superb game or a stomping... both of which make great TV.
It may also be a swan song for the former Percy Carroll, who will almost certainly be offered several of the newly-vacant NFL head coaching gigs. He can pretty much pick his spot and name his price, provided he doesn't suffer a 55-0 stomping at the feet of the Texicans.... and probably even if that happens.
It's tough not to be happy for a guy who was pretty earnest about making my Sundays happy during his time here. It just didn't work out. It's a lot like dumping someone, ending up very happy with someone else... and seeing them 10 years later, perfectly happy in their own right. It worked out for everyone.
The converse of that is him taking the possibly-available J-E-T-S job, and bashing us twice a year for the next decade. I'd still bet Belly Check over Percy in any battle of football wits... but, as the Rose Bowl should prove, I've been wrong before.