Fat paychecks make gaining celebrity status in sports all worthwhile, but that doesn’t mean the job is not without drawbacks.
For example, one remark by Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, said four times in 15 seconds, has taken on a life of its own. Soon, Tech will be forced to change its nickname from Red Raiders to Chubby Chasers.
Or haven’t you heard yet what Leach said in the wake of his team’s unexpected 22-point, home loss to Texas A&M last Saturday?
He said he and his staff failed to make “our coaching points more compelling than their fat little girlfriends. Now their fat little girlfriends have some obvious advantages. For one thing, their fat little girlfriends are telling them what they want to hear, which is how great you are and how easy it’s going to be. There will be some people inconvenienced, and if that happens to be their fat little girlfriends, too bad.”
In a different era, coaches were judged more on their actions than words. Somewhere along the line, the speech police beefed up patrols.
Kansas coach Mark Mangino said he had not heard Leach’s remarks. Consequently, he couldn’t judge the context. It’s obvious Mangino likes Leach. When asked about it, he didn’t want to talk about it, so as not to get himself into trouble, but he didn’t want to not talk about it, either. Not commenting might have made it seem as if Leach had done something seriously wrong.
This fat little columnist had to ask: Isn’t it bad for recruiting to say that about Tech’s co-eds because, for instance, it seems as if KU’s don’t share that description?
“I don’t want to get into all that now,” Mangino said. “There are pretty girls everywhere. Tech’s got their share, and KU has their share. We’re partial. We think KU has the best. ... He’s trying to have fun with it. He’s joking around. We’re really uptight in society. We’re really politically correct.
“I love watching (Penn State coach) Joe Paterno’s press conferences. We watch them on tape. I think they’re the best. Hey, he is the king of college football. He can say anything he wants. And I love it. He’s earned the right to do that. I sit there and I say, ‘Geez, if I said something like that, I’d have to apologize.’ He earned that right. We need a little of that. We’re too uptight in this society. We need to loosen up and have some fun and not everybody take everything so literally. I don’t want to get into the girls. We’ll leave that to Mike. I’ll focus on football. I’ve got my hands full doing that.”
Asked whether he urges his players to have girlfriends, Mangino laughed, shook his head and said, “This here is a democracy, to a point.”
He’s right. When it comes to how to play the game, all successful football programs are a democracy, to a point. That point is the letter “D,” and that’s where it stops. Democracy and dictatorship both start with the same letter.
But dating advice?
“We don’t talk to the players about who their girlfriends are and what they should look like,” Mangino said.
Red-shirt freshman safety Lubbock Smith has a good handle on whom to listen to, when: “I don’t listen to my girlfriend when it comes to football. I listen to my coaches.”